SGLT2 inhibitor drug use in patients with diabetes appears to reduce cancer risk, according to a retrospective analysis by Taiwanese researchers.
Epidemiological evidence suggests that diabetes increases the risk of cancer. It is thought the combination of hyper-insulinaemia, chronic inflammation and hyperglycaemia could increase the growth of tumours. Consequently, it may be possible to reduce this risk with anti-diabetic treatment. A recent meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials, suggests that SGLT2 inhibitor drugs could lower cancer risk compared to placebo. However, the extent to which these drugs might reduce the risk of cancer in practice is less clear.
The current study, published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, retrospectively compared cancer development among SGLT2 inhibitor users. The team matched these patients with a group not prescribed these drugs. The primary outcome was cancer development and the analysis adjusted for several potential confounders.
SGLT2 inhibitor use and cancer risk
A cohort of 325,990 SGLT2 inhibitor users with mean age of 58.6 years (42.2% female) and 325,989 non-users was identified.
SGLT2 inhibitor users had a significantly lower cancer risk (adjusted hazard ratio, aHR = 0.79, 95% CI 0.76 – 0.83) than non-users. The risk of cancer was also higher among males (aHR = 1.35, 95% CI 1.30 – 1.41) and in patients aged 50-64 and older than 65 years.
Researchers also noticed that this risk reduction was dependent on the duration of SGLT2 inhibitor use. Short-term use (60-140 days) was actually linked to a higher cancer risk (aHR = 1.30, 95% CI 1.21 – 1.39).
In addition, while cancer risk was generally lower, there was a significant increased risk of pancreatic cancer (aHR = 1.51, 95% CI 1.22 – 1.87) which was consistent with the findings of a recent case study.