The links between insulin resistance, diabetes, and cancer

Curr Diab Rep. 2013 Apr;13(2):213-22. doi: 10.1007/s11892-012-0356-6.


The growing epidemic of obesity has resulted in a large increase in multiple related diseases. Recent evidence has strengthened the proposed synergistic relationship between obesity-related insulin resistance (IR) and/or diabetes mellitus (DM) and cancer. Within the past year, many studies have examined this relationship. Although the precise mechanisms and pathways are uncertain, it is becoming clear that hyperinsulinemia and possibly sustained hyperglycemia are important regulators of not only the development of cancer but also of treatment outcome. Further, clinical decision-making regarding the treatment of choice for DM will likely be impacted as we learn more about the non-metabolic effects of the available hyperglycemic agents. In our review, we endeavored to synthesize the recent literature and provide a concise view of the journey from macro-level clinical associations to specific mechanistic relationships being elucidated in cell lines and animal models.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / pathology