More recent, better designed studies have weakened links between antidiabetes medications and cancer risk
© 2019 Diabetes UK Background: An increasing number of studies have investigated associations of antidiabetes medications with cancer risk. Antidiabetes medications are classified by their mechanisms of action on tissues and organs. They potentially act as both causative and confounding factors in the temporal association of diabetes and cancer. Aim: To present the current evidence regarding both the carcinogenic and anti-carcinogenic effects of antidiabetes medications on cancer in humans. Methods: A review of the scientific literature. Results: The most conclusive evidence shown of an association of antidiabetes medication with a specific cancer was for that of the thiazolidinedione pioglitazone with bladder cancer. Currently, there is inconclusive evidence regarding a possible association of incretin therapies, drugs of the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor class, with the risk of pancreatic cancer. Insulin, sulfonylureas, metformin and sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 inhibitors appear not to be associated with increased risk of any cancer. Sparse evidence suggests possible protective effects against cancer incidence of metformin, sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones, incretin-based drugs and sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 inhibitors. Conclusion: The conflicting evidence regarding associations of antidiabetes medications with cancer risk is apparently attributable to both methodological issues and to the complexity of the subject. More recent and better-designed studies have weakened the evidence for links between antidiabetes medications and cancer risk.
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School of Medicine