Diabetes and weight loss are high risk factors for pancreatic cancer

A study that followed over 150,000 individuals for 30 years found that people with recent-onset type 2 diabetes and weight loss of 1-8lbs were over 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer compared to those without diabetes or weight loss. For those who lost more than 8lbs, the risk increased to almost 7 times.

Recent-onset diabetes referred to patients who had been diagnosed within the last 4 years and weight loss was reported at the study enrolment and every 2 years thereafter. The analysis included 112,818 women (mean age 59.4 years) and 46,207 men (64.7 years) from two different studies on healthcare professionals.

The association between these combined risk factors and pancreatic cancer were stronger in participants who were older, had a healthy body weight (BMI less than 25) prior to weight loss and in those whose weight loss was unintentional. The risk was still present with either weight loss or diabetes, but stronger when both occurred.

Why it matters: Recent-onset diabetes and weight loss in combination, is a high-risk factor for pancreatic cancer, which is mostly diagnosed at advanced and incurable disease stages. Patients who experience both symptoms could benefit from follow-up screening to facilitate early diagnosis strategies.

Source: JAMA Oncology