Australia

Diabetes gives women bigger cancer risk

New research shows women with diabetes face a greater risk than men of also developing cancer. (AAP)

New research shows that women with diabetes have a higher chance than men of also developing a range of cancers.

Women with diabetes face a greater risk than men of also developing cancer, Australian researchers have discovered.

Researchers from The George Institute for Global Health reviewed health data from 20 million people around the world and found women with diabetes had a six per cent greater chance than men of developing any type of cancer.

Their chances of developing kidney, oral and stomach cancers and leukaemia were all found to be significantly higher than men.

However, women with diabetes had a lower chance than men of developing liver cancer.

Women with diabetes were also 27 per cent more likely than women without the chronic condition to develop cancer.

The difference between men with and without diabetes was 19 per cent.

Dr Sanne Peters, a co-author of the data review published on Friday in the journal Diabetolgia, said a possible reason women with diabetes face a higher risk of developing cancer was because they can often be pre-diabetic for two years longer than men.

Pre-diabetes can be hard to detect, meaning many women go undiagnosed and untreated.

"Historically we know that women are often under-treated when they first present with symptoms of diabetes, are less likely to receive intensive care and are not taking the same levels of medications as men," Dr Peters said.

An estimated 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, while two million are diagnosed with pre-diabetes and at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The George Institute researchers based their findings on data from 47 studies carried out in Australia, Britain, the United States, Japan and China.

Other studies have shown general links between diabetes, cancer, heart disease and dementia, but the George Institute researchers said until now, it was unknown whether men and women with diabetes faced the same increased risks.

Dr Peters said more research was needed to understand why the cancer risk factors differ between the sexes.

"The differences we found are not insignificant and need addressing," Dr Peters said.

"The more we look into gender specific research, the more we are discovering that women are not only undertreated, they also have very different risk factors for a whole host of diseases, including stroke, heart disease and now diabetes."

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