Diabetes but not insulin increases the risk of lung cancer: a Taiwanese population-based study

PLoS One. 2014 Jul 3;9(7):e101553. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101553. eCollection 2014.


Background: The trend of lung cancer incidence in Taiwan is unknown, and the association between type 2 diabetes/insulin use and lung cancer is rarely studied.

Methods: The trends of lung cancer incidence in 1979-2007 in the Taiwanese general population were calculated. A random sample of 1,000,000 subjects covered by the National Health Insurance in 2005 was recruited. A total of 494,002 men and 502,948 women and without lung cancer were followed for the annual cumulative incidence of lung cancer in 2005, with calculation of the risk ratios between diabetic and non-diabetic subjects. Logistic regression estimated the adjusted odds ratios for risk factors.

Results: The trends increased significantly in both sexes (P<0.0001). The sex-specific annual cumulative incidence increased with age in either the diabetic or non-diabetic subjects, but the risk ratios attenuated with age. In logistic regressions, diabetes was associated with a significantly higher risk, with odds ratios (95% confidence interval) for diabetes duration <1, 1-3, 3-5 and ≥5 years versus non-diabetes of 2.189 (1.498-3.200), 1.420 (1.014-1.988), 1.545 (1.132-2.109), and 1.329 (1.063-1.660), respectively. Such an association was not related to a higher detection with chest X-ray examination. Insulin use and medications including oral anti-diabetic drugs, statin, fibrate, and anti-hypertensive agents were not significantly associated with lung cancer. Age, male sex, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were positively; but dyslipidemia, stroke and higher socioeconomic status were negatively associated with lung cancer.

Conclusions: Diabetes is significantly associated with a higher risk of lung cancer, but insulin use does not increase the risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Dyslipidemias / complications
  • Dyslipidemias / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Taiwan / epidemiology


  • Insulin

Grant support

The study was supported by the National Science Council (NSC102-2314-B-002-067) of Taiwan. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.