Insulin resistance and cancer: epidemiological evidence

Endocr Relat Cancer. 2012 Sep 5;19(5):F1-8. doi: 10.1530/ERC-12-0142. Print 2012 Oct.


Epidemiological research into insulin resistance has focused on excess body weight, type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), physical activity, and coffee consumption. These common modifiable factors have also been suggested to play a role in the process of carcinogenesis via associations with insulin resistance. Findings of systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses have generally supported an association between excess body weight and DM with an increased risk of colon cancer in males, and of liver, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers. Inverse relationships between these cancers and physical activity and coffee consumption have been shown, both of which are known to reduce the risk of DM. Interventions directed at or involving these variables should contribute to decreasing the risk of insulin resistance-associated cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Overweight
  • Risk Factors