The study examined the association between diabetes, HbA1c, and cancer risk in the UK Biobank, using data from 476,517 participants (54% women), followed for an average period of 7.1 years. Diabetes was defined on the basis of baseline self-reported diagnosis of diabetes and/or use of diabetes medication, while HbA1c measured at baseline was categorized as low (<31 mmol/mol), normal (31-<39 mmol/mol), increased risk (39-<48 mmol/mol), and high risk for diabetes (≥48 mmol/mol). Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the association of diabetes and cancer at different anatomical sites, with adjustment for cancer-specific risk factors.
The study found that diabetes was associated with increased risk of cancers of the stomach, liver, bladder, endometrium, and lung among smokers, and with decreased risk of prostate cancer. Compared with the normal HbA1c category, the increased risk category was positively associated with risk of cancers of the colon, liver, bladder, and lung among smokers, and the high-risk category was associated with increased risk of cancers of the esophagus, liver, pancreas, and bladder, and with decreased risk of prostate cancer. Based on the study results the authors suggested that both diabetes and/or elevated HbA1c are associated with risk of cancer at several anatomic sites.