Cancer, obesity, diabetes, and antidiabetic drugs: is the fog clearing?

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Abstract

Abstract | The prevalence of obesity, of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and of cancer are all increasing globally. The relationships between these diseases are complex, and thus difficult to elucidate; nevertheless, evidence supports the hypothesis that obesity increases the risks of both T2DM and certain cancers. Further complexity arises from controversial evidence that specific drugs used in the treatment of T2DM increase or decrease cancer risk or influence cancer prognosis. Herein, we review the current evidence from studies that have addressed these relationships, and summarize the methodological challenges that are frequently encountered in such research. We also outline the physiology that links obesity, T2DM, and neoplasia. Finally, we outline the practical principles relevant to the increasingly common challenge of managing patients who have been diagnosed with both diabetes and cancer.

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