, Volume 57, Issue 6, pp 1576-1585
Date: 17 Feb 2012

Diabetes Mellitus and the Incidence of Colorectal Cancer: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access



The purpose of this study was to determine whether diabetes mellitus is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.


Relevant studies were identified in MEDLINE and EMBASE (up until November 1st, 2011). Inclusion criteria were original, peer-reviewed publications, with case–control and cohort studies (for studies on diabetes mellitus and colorectal cancer). Summary relative risks with 95% confidence intervals were calculated with a random-effects model.


Twenty-four studies including eight case–control and 16 cohort studies, with a total of 3,659,341 participants, were included in this updated systematic review and meta-analysis, and all involved diabetes mellitus and colorectal cancer risk. Meta-analysis of the 24 included studies indicated that diabetes was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, compared with no diabetes (summary RR of colorectal cancer incidence = 1.26, 95% CI = 1.20–1.31), without heterogeneity between studies (P heterogeneity = 0.296). Sub-group analyses found that these results were consistent between case–control and cohort studies and among studies conducted in different areas. The association between diabetes and colorectal cancer incidence did not differ significantly by sex and sub-sites. Insulin therapy was also positively associated with risk of colorectal cancer (summary RR = 1.61, 95% CI 1.18–1.35), with evidence of heterogeneity between studies (P heterogeneity = 0.014).


Our findings further support a relationship between diabetes and increased risk of colon and rectal cancer in both women and men, and insulin therapy for diabetes may increase this risk.

Longying Deng and Zhifu Gui contributed equally to this work.