Epidemiological evidence of a relationship between type-1 diabetes mellitus and cancer: A review of the existing literature



This review explores the epidemiological evidence relating to type-1 diabetes (T1DM) and cancer incidence and mortality. Mortality rates among those with T1DM are higher in every age group compared with the general population; the majority of this mortality is due to factors related to the consequences of diabetes, such as cardiovascular and renal disease. For over 100 years, researchers have explored the relationships between diabetes and cancer and although there is now a large body of work on the subject, consensus has not been reached. Such research has tended to focus upon type-2 diabetes, with the result that very little is known about T1DM and cancer. As incidence of T1DM increases, by around 3% annually among children, the need for further research into its impact upon cancer incidence and mortality increases. Within this review, findings varied by study method utilised, T1DM definition used and study region and outcome measure explored. None of the case–control studies found a statistically significant link between the two diseases, whereas both of the meta-analyses did. Cohort studies produced mixed results. There were also mixed findings among research that defined T1DM in the same way (e.g. defining individuals with the disease as those diagnosed with diabetes before 30 years of age). The review found a number of studies which explored cause-specific cancer mortality among those with diabetes; such studies also had mixed findings. This inconsistency within results suggests the need for further research to understand better the potential relationships between T1DM and cancer.