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Association between type 2 diabetes and cancer incidence in Taiwan: data from a prospective community-based cohort study



Evidence of a role for type 2 diabetes in overall cancer risk and risk for specific types of cancer is limited in ethnic Chinese populations. We therefore investigated whether there is an association between diabetes and cancer incidence in Taiwan.


This study recruited a total of 3602 adults aged 35 years or over (average 54.9 ± 12.3 years, 52.8% women). Participants with fasting glucose ≥126 mg/dL, or taking hypoglycemic medications, were classed as having type 2 diabetes. Cancer incidence was established through regular follow-up interviews and medical records. Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to examine associations for diabetes with risk of all-cause and site-specific cancers.


During a median of follow-up of 10.5 years, 275 individuals developed cancer, including 157 digestive cancers and 31 urinary cancers. Younger participants (aged < 55 years) with diabetes had a greater risk of all cancers [adjusted relative risk (RR) 3.42; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.78–6.57], digestive cancers (adjusted RR 2.88; 95% CI 1.15–6.94) and urinary cancers (adjusted RR 13.4; 95% CI 2.70–66.3) compared with individuals in the same age group without diabetes.


Our results clearly demonstrate that middle-aged individuals of Chinese ethnicity with diabetes have a greater risk of all-cause cancer and specific subtypes of cancer.

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The study was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 103-2314-B-002 -135 -MY3, NSC 102-2314-B-002 -080 -MY2 and NSC 100-2314-B-002 -113 -MY3).

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Correspondence to Kuo-Liong Chien.

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The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest in this study.

Ethical standard

The study was approved by the Institute Review Board committee of the National Taiwan University Hospital.

Human and animal rights

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects for being included in this study, which was governed by National Taiwan University Hospital.

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Yang, WS., Chen, PC., Lin, HJ. et al. Association between type 2 diabetes and cancer incidence in Taiwan: data from a prospective community-based cohort study. Acta Diabetol 54, 455–461 (2017).

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  • Cohort study
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer