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Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 578285, 7 pages
Review Article

Diabetes and Thyroid Cancer Risk: Literature Review

1Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, No. 7, Chung Shan South Road, Taipei 10002, Taiwan
2National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan

Received 30 January 2012; Revised 30 March 2012; Accepted 20 April 2012

Academic Editor: Chien-Jen Chen

Copyright © 2012 Shyang-Rong Shih et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Diabetic patients have a higher risk of various types of cancer. However, whether diabetes may increase the risk of thyroid cancer has not been extensively studied. This paper reviews and summarizes the current literature studying the relationship between diabetes mellitus and thyroid cancer, and the possible mechanisms linking such an association. Epidemiologic studies showed significant or nonsignificant increases in thyroid cancer risk in diabetic women and nonsignificant increase or no change in thyroid cancer risk in diabetic men. A recent pooled analysis, including 5 prospective studies from the USA, showed that the summary hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) for women was 1.19 (0.84–1.69) and was 0.96 (0.65–1.42) for men. Therefore, the results are controversial and the association between diabetes and thyroid cancer is probably weak. Further studies are necessary to confirm their relationship. Proposed mechanisms for such a possible link between diabetes and thyroid cancer include elevated levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, insulin, glucose and triglycerides, insulin resistance, obesity, vitamin D deficiency, and antidiabetic medications such as insulin or sulfonylureas.