Of genetics, diabetes, and prostate cancer risk

We know from a number of older, epidemiologic studies that there seems to be an inverse association between diabetes status and prostate cancer risk. In other words, people with diabetes seem to be less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, real scientific evidence for such an inverse association has never been established.

Waters et al. set out to see if they could establish such ascientific evidence by investigating whether it could be explained (at least in part) by common variations in the genomes of men who had diabetes and prostate cancer.

They tested men with and without prostate cancer for 17 diabetes risk variants by using 2,746 cases and 3,317 controls from five racial-ethnic groups in the so-called multiethnic cohort study of diet and cancer. However, they found no immediate evidence that any of the 17 known alleles known to confer risk for diabetes were statistrically associated with risk for prostate cancer. They also showed that the sum of all the risk alleles implied no statistically signifciant risk for prostate cancer either.

Unless such evidence can be identified by more sophisticated genetic analysis — using techniques like re-sequencing and fine mapping of relevant alleles — there is no immediately apparent genetic reason for the apparent inverse risk association between diabetes and prostate cancer.

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