Diabetes Drugs Affect Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Metformin linked to lower risk in women; sulfonylureas, insulin associated with higher risk

TUESDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term use of the diabetes drug metformin is associated with a lower risk of pancreatic cancer only in women, while long-term use of sulfonylureas and insulin are associated with a significantly higher risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a study published online Jan. 31 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Michael Bodmer, M.D., from the University of Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues investigated the correlation between use of diabetes drugs and pancreatic cancer from 2,763 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 16,578 matched controls (mean age, 69.5 years old; 46.2 percent male).

The researchers found that, although long-term use of metformin (≥30 prescriptions) did not affect the risk of pancreatic cancer overall (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.87; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.59 to 1.29), long-term use was associated with a lower risk in women (aOR, 0.43; 95 percent CI, 0.23 to 0.80). A significantly increased risk of pancreatic cancer was seen with long-term use of sulfonylureas (≥30 prescriptions: aOR, 1.90) and insulin (≥40 prescriptions: aOR, 2.29).

"Use of metformin was associated with a decreased risk of pancreatic cancer in women only, whereas use of sulfonylureas and of insulin was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer," the authors write.

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