Post-menopausal breast cancer survivors, particularly those who have had chemotherapy, have a greater risk of developing diabetes than women who have never had breast cancer, according to a new Canadian study.
Researchers compared the incidence of diabetes in more than 125,000 women 55 and older using data from Ontario from 1996 to 2008.
Breast cancer survivors had a 7% increased risk of developing diabetes starting two years after diagnosis, and a 21% increased risk after 10 years, Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe of Women's College Hospital in Toronto and her colleagues found.
There are a number of possible reasons why this is so, Lipscombe said, including weight gain common in patients receiving chemo treatment for breast cancer, and the nausea-suppressing drugs that are known to cause blood sugar spikes.
But the researchers are not sure what accounted for the growing risk in survivors who had not received chemo.
They can only point to an association between diabetes and cancer, which might be due to "risk factors common to both conditions," such as insulin resistance.
In fact, among all the women in the study, the researchers found that 9.7% of them developed diabetes over a mean followup of 5.8 years.
The findings are published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
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