Purpose: The metabolic abnormalities that accompany diabetes mellitus are associated with an increased risk of many cancers. These associations, however, have not been well studied in American Indian populations, which experience a high prevalence of diabetes. The Strong Heart Study is a population-based, prospective cohort study with extensive characterization of diabetes status.
Methods: Among a total cohort of 4,419 participants who were followed for up to 20 years, 430 cancer deaths were identified.
Results: After adjusting for sex, age, education, smoking status, drinking status, and body mass index, participants with diabetes at baseline showed an increased risk of gastric (HR 4.09; 95% CI 1.42-11.79), hepatocellular (HR 2.94; 95% CI 1.17-7.40), and prostate cancer mortality (HR 3.10; 95% CI 1.22-7.94). Further adjustment for arsenic exposure showed a significantly increased risk of all-cause cancer mortality with diabetes (HR 1.27; 95% CI 1.03-1.58). Insulin resistance among participants without diabetes at baseline was associated with hepatocellular cancer mortality (HR 4.70; 95% CI 1.55-14.26).
Conclusions: Diabetes mellitus, and/or insulin resistance among those without diabetes, is a risk factor for gastric, hepatocellular, and prostate cancer in these American Indian communities, although relatively small sample size suggests cautious interpretation. Additional research is needed to evaluate the role of diabetes and obesity on cancer incidence in American Indian communities as well as the importance of diabetes prevention and control in reducing the burden of cancer incidence and mortality in the study population.
Keywords: American Indian; Cancer; Diabetes mellitus.