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Diabetes Linked to Increased Risk for Head and Neck Cancers — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
July 25, 2014

Diabetes Linked to Increased Risk for Head and Neck Cancers

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by William E. Chavey, MD, MS

Patients with diabetes might face nearly a 50% increased risk for head and neck cancers, according to a retrospective, case-control study in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery.

Using Taiwanese health databases, researchers studied nearly 90,000 patients diagnosed with diabetes in 2002 and 90,000 matched controls without diabetes. During follow-up through 2011, head and neck cancers were diagnosed in 0.71% of diabetes patients and 0.50% of controls. After multivariable adjustment, diabetes patients showed a significant increase in the risk for head and neck cancer (hazard ratio, 1.48), owed mainly to increases in cancers of the oral cavity, oropharynx, and nasopharynx.

The authors note that the mechanisms underlying the association "remain unclear" but may involve "shared genetic risk factors, [diabetes]-related metabolic morbidities (e.g., hypertension and dyslipidemia), obesity, aging, and sex." They conclude that their findings underscore the necessity of monitoring diabetic patients for head and neck cancer.

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