Relationship between Diabetes and Diabetes Medications and Risk of Different Molecular Subtypes of Breast Cancer. Academic Article uri icon


  • Type II diabetes and certain diabetes treatments have been observed to impact breast cancer risk. However, their associations with different breast cancer molecular subtype defined by estrogen receptor (ER)/progesterone receptor (PR)/HER2 status are unclear.We conducted a retrospective multi-center population-based case-case study consisting of 4,557 breast cancer cases to evaluate the impact of type II diabetes and diabetes medications on the risk of different breast cancer molecular subtypes [ER+/HER2-, ER+/HER2+, triple negative (ER-/PR-/HER2-), and HER2 overexpressing (H2E, ER-/PR-/HER2+)]. Using ER+/HER2- cases as the reference group, we estimated ORs and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each subtype using polytomous logistic regression.Compared with those without a diabetes history, women with type II diabetes had a 38% (95% CI, 1.01-1.89) increased odds of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Current and longer term recent metformin use (13-24 months of treatment within the 24-month period prior to breast cancer diagnosis) was associated with elevated odds of TNBC (OR = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.07-2.22 and OR = 1.80; 95% CI, 1.13-2.85, respectively).The odds of having a triple-negative rather than ER+/HER2- breast cancer is greater for women with type II diabetes, and particularly for those who were users of metformin. This finding is supported by some preclinical data suggesting that diabetes may be more strongly associated with risk of triple-negative disease.Our study provides novel evidence regarding potential differential effects of type II diabetes and metformin use on risk of different molecular subtypes of breast cancer.©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.

publication date

  • December 2019