Older breast cancer survivors might be at risk for diabetes

Postmenopausal women who have survived breast cancer might have a new disease to worry about: diabetes.

In a study conducted in Ontario and published in Diabetologia, researchers looked at data on about 25,000 breast cancer survivors that were over 55. They also analyzed 125,000 women of the same age who never had breast cancer.

The researchers found that, after about five years, almost 10 percent of all the women in the study developed diabetes. The group of women who had survived breast cancer had a 7 percent higher risk for diabetes two years after the cancer diagnosis. Ten years after the cancer diagnosis, this same group had a 21 percent risk for diabetes.

For breast cancer survivors that had undergone chemotherapy, diabetes risk decreased over time--they had a 24 percent higher risk during the first two years after cancer diagnosis, and 8 percent higher risk 10 years after the cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe, of Women's College Hospital and Women's College Research Institute in Toronto, commented in a news release:

"It is possible that chemotherapy treatment may bring out diabetes earlier in susceptible women. Increased weight gain has been noted (after receiving) chemotherapy for breast cancer, which may be a factor in the increased risk of diabetes in women receiving treatment."

Lipscombe also notes that because chemotherapy suppresses estrogen, this might explain the increased risk of diabetes.

Source: Courier Journal

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