Diabetes May Indicate Risk of Bladder Cancer

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Bladder cancer risks may be slightly higher in men with diabetes

July 3, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) People living with diabetes have a lot to think about. Managing the disease has its challenges. And with diabetes comes the risk of other health issues.

A recent analysis of earlier studies has found that men with diabetes had a slightly increased risk for bladder cancer. 

dailyRx News spoke with a nationally renowned cancer expert who suggested these findings shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

"Stay on top of managing your diabetes."

Zhaowei Zhu, MD, PhD, of the Shanghai Jiaotong University in Shanghai, China, led this study, which is known as a meta-analysis.

Dr. Zhu and colleagues analyzed 36 different studies conducted between 1970 and 2012 to assess the association between diabetes and bladder cancer.

"Among these 36 studies, 18 studies did not demonstrate a significantly increased risk of bladder cancer in patients with [diabetes mellitus], and the rest [of the] studies reported a significantly increased risk of bladder cancer in individuals with diabetes," the authors reported.

Of the studies that found a positive association between the two diseases, men with diabetes were found to have a 38 percent increased risk of bladder cancer. 

No association between diabetes and bladder cancer was found in women.

After looking at how long an individual had diabetes, the authors found that people who had the disease for five or fewer years were at the highest risk. As a result, the authors concluded that "...those with newly diagnosed diabetes should be on high alert to bladder cancer."

The authors then reported that one of the studies showed that "...the risk of bladder cancer was highest in those with diabetes for 16 years or more."

Ralph de Vere White, MD, director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and distinguished professor of urology at the University of California, Davis, told dailyRx News, "The fact that there are so many different results would leave one to believe that, yes, there may be an association, but no, that it is not the major problem facing a diabetic."

Dr. de Vere White continued, "When one considers that half the men and women diagnosed with bladder cancer have a history of smoking, quitting smoking is the best way lower the risk not only of bladder cancer, but all cancers."

The study authors suggested that additional studies should be conducted to look more closely at this association.

"Even if one accepts that male patients with diabetes may have a slightly increased risk of bladder cancer, I don’t believe that we should perform more studies to prove the association or give diabetic patients one more thing to worry about. Clearly patients with diabetes have more pressing issues to deal with," Dr. de Vere White said.

This study was published June 26 in BMC Cancer, an open access journal.

Funding information was not provided. No authors disclosed any conflicts of interest.

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Review Date: 
July 3, 2013
Last Updated:
July 30, 2013