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Diabetes and prostate cancer: Is there a link? While diabetes has been linked to an increased incidence of cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, and pancreas, the same such relationship is not as clear with prostate cancer. In fact, diabetes may be associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer compared to men that do not have diabetes. Some research has shown that diabetic men may be as much as 14% less likely to develop prostate cancer compared to men without diabetes, however poorly controlled diabetes may increase risk of a more aggressive prostate cancer.
Another controversial topic has been the impact of diabetes on risk of recurrence or severity of prostate cancer. Results have been mixed with some studies finding no link between diabetes and prostate cancer severity and recurrence, while at least one study demonstrated increased severity when the two diseases occur together.
Does diabetic control affect aggressiveness and prognosis?
Most of the previously mentioned research compared diabetic men with prostate cancer and those without prostate cancer. Researchers looked at 247 diabetic men from a large cancer database who had a hemoglobin A1c measured in the last year before having a radical prostatectomy.
The researchers found that men with more poorly controlled diabetes had a more aggressive prostate cancer as predicted by Gleason score. The Gleason score is a clinical grading system that can predict prognosis of prostate cancer. Patients in this study, however, were not found to have an increased risk of metastases or recurrence based on the hemoglobin A1c test.
The take home message from this is that while you may have a decreased risk of prostate cancer if you have diabetes (but an increased risk of stroke and heart attack), you may have a more severe prostate cancer if you do not keep your diabetes under good control. If you do develop prostate cancer, you do not appear to be at increased risk of having your cancer spread or coming back. It is important to remember that this was one small study and larger more definitive studies will need to be done on diabetes and prostate cancer before this information can be verified.
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.
Bansal D et al. Type 2 diabetes and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases 2013 Jun; 16(2):151-58
Kim HS et al. Glycemic control and prostate cancer progression: Results from the SEARCH database. The Prostate 2010 Oct 1; 70(14):1540-46