Study Shows Alarming Correlation between Diabetes and Lung Cancer

lung cancer and diabetesIn the past, diabetes has been linked to numerous other health issues ranging from heart disease to kidney failure. A recent study by a research group at West Virginia University, conducted over an 11-year period and published on May 22, has potentially added lung cancer to the list. For postmenopausal women with diabetes, lung cancer is a serious threat, being 27 percent more likely for them than other women.

The study focused on 8,154 postmenopausal women with diabetes. Over the 11-year period of the study, more than one-fourth of these women contracted lung cancer. However, the researchers made several interesting observations. The correlation between postmenopausal women with diabetes and lung cancer only existed for those women who received treatment for their diabetes. Additionally, if these women participated in insulin therapy, their risk for lung cancer skyrockets to 71 percent more likely to develop than for women without diabetes. They also concluded that there was no increase in risk of contracting lung cancer based on how long the women had diabetes.

Because women with type 1, or insulin dependent, diabetes require external insulin injections to survive, they are forced to undergo insulin therapy, which essentially involves injecting diabetes sufferers with insulin. Therefore, postmenopausal women with type 1 diabetes are stuck with the 71 percent increase in risk. Depending on the severity of their diabetes, those women with type 2, or insulin resistant, may not have to deal with insulin therapy, thereby cutting their risk of lung cancer. However, any postmenopausal women with diabetes who receive treatment in any form, include various forms of medication, are at the 27 percent increase in risk level for lung cancer.

Although the researchers used the term postmenopausal to describe the patients in their study, postmenopausal women outside of their age range, 50 to 79 years of age, are not part of their results. Therefore, even though there is almost certainly increased risk for lung cancer among postmenopausal women younger than 50 or older than 79, the exact percentages of increased risk may differ slightly.

The study, though, is only the first of many to come, experts suggest. Many large studies need to be done both to confirm the results of this one and to explore the problem further and acquire more details regarding exactly why this correlation exists. It is, as of yet, unknown exactly which forms of medication and insulin therapy result in the greatest increase in risk for postmenopausal women with diabetes to contract lung cancer. Other studies have been conducted, but their relatively small scope have not been sufficient to provide meaningful results.

The research team, which includes Juhua Luo, Ph.D., and his colleagues at West Virginia University, published their surprising findings in Diabetes Care, a medical journal sponsored by the American Diabetes Association to increase information on diabetes and provide medical practitioners with improved ways to treat their patients. Concerned postmenopausal women with diabetes, therefore, can contact their medical practitioners about this study and more accurately determine their risk for contracting lung cancer in the future.

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