Diabetes and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis

Br J Cancer. 2012 Oct 23;107(9):1608-17. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.414. Epub 2012 Sep 20.


Background: The potential of an increased risk of breast cancer in women with diabetes has been the subject of a great deal of recent research.

Methods: A meta-analysis was undertaken using a random effects model to investigate the association between diabetes and breast cancer risk.

Results: Thirty-nine independent risk estimates were available from observational epidemiological studies. The summary relative risk (SRR) for breast cancer in women with diabetes was 1.27 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.16-1.39) with no evidence of publication bias. Prospective studies showed a lower risk (SRR 1.23 (95% CI, 1.12-1.35)) than retrospective studies (SRR 1.36 (95% CI, 1.13-1.63)). Type 1 diabetes, or diabetes in pre-menopausal women, were not associated with risk of breast cancer (SRR 1.00 (95% CI, 0.74-1.35) and SRR 0.86 (95% CI, 0.66-1.12), respectively). Studies adjusting for body mass index (BMI) showed lower estimates (SRR 1.16 (95% CI, 1.08-1.24)) as compared with those studies that were not adjusted for BMI (SRR 1.33 (95% CI, 1.18-1.51)).

Conclusion: The risk of breast cancer in women with type 2 diabetes is increased by 27%, a figure that decreased to 16% after adjustment for BMI. No increased risk was seen for women at pre-menopausal ages or with type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors