Women with type 2 diabetes taking metformin or statins are not less likely to develop epithelial ovarian cancer than any other type 2 diabetes patient, a large Finnish cohort study reports.
The study, “The role of metformin and statins in the incidence of epithelial ovarian cancer in type 2 diabetes: a cohort and nested case–control study,” was published in BJOG: an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology.
People with type 2 diabetes are thought to also have increased risk of developing different cancers. This could, in part, be due to increased body weight that often accompanies diabetes. A recent analysis showed increasing body weight in premenopausal women was associated with increased risk for developing ovarian cancer.
Although the risk for developing cancer among diabetics is highest for those taking insulin, some studies suggest there may also be an association between cancer risk and other anti-diabetic drugs, such as metformin or statins.
Metformin is an oral, anti-diabetic medication that is often prescribed as the first-line treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes. But it also has anti-tumor effects and some studies have suggested that metformin use is linked to lower incidence of different cancers.
Statins are lipid-lowering drugs primarily used to treat cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetes patients. Because people with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, patients are often treated with statins. But the medicines also possess anti-cancer properties.
In the current study, researchers included 137,643 women age 40 and older who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between 1996 and 2011. They obtained the data from the FinDM database, which includes registries of nationwide health and drug information.
After a mean follow-up of 5.4 years, 303 women were diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer. The incidence of ovarian cancer was highest in women between 60-69 years and in those living with diabetes for between 5-8 years.
Compared with other forms of oral anti-diabetic medication, metformin use (66% or individuals) was not associated with reduced risk of ovarian cancer. Similarly, there was no evidence that people who took statins (52.5% of individuals) were at reduced risk for developing ovarian cancer. The most commonly prescribed statin was simvastin.
Although studies suggest that both metformin and statin have anti-cancer properties, this study does not show any protective effects against developing ovarian cancer in people with type 2 diabetes who are taking either of these medications.