The role of metformin and statins in ovarian and breast cancer in women with type 2 diabetes.

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Auditorium 4 of Oulu University Hospital

Topic of the dissertation

The role of metformin and statins in ovarian and breast cancer in women with type 2 diabetes.

Doctoral candidate

Licentiate of Medicine Elina Urpilainen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu Graduate School, PEDEGO

Subject of study

Medicine

Opponent

Docent Minna Tanner, Tampere University Hospital/University of Tampere

Custos

Professor Ulla Puistola, Oulu University Hospital/University of Oulu

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The use of statins is associated with lower mortality from both ovarian and breast cancer in women with type 2 diabetes

The results of this doctoral dissertation suggest that the tailoring of glycaemic and hypercholesterolaemia treatments might have significant impact on ovarian cancer and breast cancer development and patient survival.

Patients with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and hypercholesterolaemia, both of which are widely treated with statins. In this study, it was observed that statin use had an association with decreased mortality from breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The use of the antidiabetic drug metformin was not observed to be associated with mortality from ovarian cancer, but mortality from causes other than cancer appeared lower among breast cancer patients who were metformin users. The use of metformin or statins was not found to be associated with the risk of ovarian or breast cancer in women with type 2 diabetes. The use of insulin, however, appeared to be associated with a higher breast cancer risk.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Finnish women, with nearly 5,000 breast cancers diagnosed in Finland every year. Approximately 500 ovarian cancers are diagnosed yearly, and the prognosis of this type of cancer is poor. Less than half the women with ovarian cancer live five years past their diagnosis. The source population for this study was drawn from the Finnish nationwide diabetes database, which includes information on over 200,000 women with type 2 diabetes.

The data from the diabetes database was combined with data from the Finnish Cancer Registry. In previous cell-line studies, both metformin and statins were observed to have favourable effects on ovarian and breast cancer cells. According to these studies, both drugs restrict the growth of cancer cells and sensitize them to chemotherapy.

The results of ongoing clinical trials will give more information on whether the use of metformin or statins can improve the prognosis of cancer when used as a part of cancer treatments also in patients without type 2 diabetes.
Last updated: 4.12.2019