Gestational Diabetes Raises Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Findings shed light on causal relationship between diabetes and the deadly cancer

FRIDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Women who develop gestational diabetes are at increased risk of pancreatic cancer later in life, according to a study published online Aug. 16 in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

Susan Harlap, M.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues analyzed pregnancy records from 37,926 Israeli women who gave birth from 1964 to 1976 in Jerusalem. According to information from the Israel Cancer Registry, there were 54 cases of pancreatic cancer in the cohort during a follow-up period of 28 to 40 years.

Among women with insulin-dependent diabetes, there were no cases of pancreatic cancer, but five women with gestational diabetes went on to develop pancreatic cancer, giving a relative risk of 7.1 for women with gestational diabetes. The time from diabetes in pregnancy to diagnosis of pancreatic cancer ranged from 14 to 35 years.

"The results suggest that gestational diabetes mellitus could be an important risk factor for pancreatic cancer," the authors conclude. "The prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus is reported to be increasing, not surprisingly, given the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the U.S.… If the results of the current study are confirmed, then it would be expected that the incidence of pancreatic cancer could increase."

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