Metabolic syndrome and cancer risk

Eur J Cancer. 2008 Jan;44(2):293-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2007.11.005. Epub 2007 Dec 4.


Objective: The purpose of this population-based study is to explore for the first time the link between metabolic syndrome and cancer risk using information from the health information system of the Cancer Registry.

Methods: Referring to all pharmaceutical prescriptions between 1 January 1999 and 31 December 2005, coded with the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification, all subjects aged 40 and over resident in Milan, which were simultaneously prescribed with antihypertensive, hypolypemic and hypoglycaemic drugs, were considered affected by metabolic syndrome. New cancer cases among cohort subjects were identified trough the local Cancer Registry and standardised incidence ratios (and corresponding 95% exact confidence intervals) were computed.

Results: Overall 16,677 subjects were identified corresponding to 45,828 person-years; among them 823 incidents cancers occurred. Significantly increased risks for pancreatic cancer in males--SIR 178 (114-266)--and colorectal cancer in females--SIR 133 (101-170)--were observed. Non-significantly increased risks were also observed in women for liver, gallbladder and biliary tract, breast and endometrial cancers.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that the risk for several cancers increases in subjects affected by metabolic syndrome. The pharmacological control of the syndrome seems to be inadequate for reducing cancer risk, even though both a high competitive mortality effect and short duration of follow up have to be considered.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Risk Factors