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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2015, Article ID 183928, 10 pages
Review Article

Type 2 Diabetes and Breast Cancer: The Interplay between Impaired Glucose Metabolism and Oxidant Stress

1San Raffaele Rome University, IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Research Center, Via di Val Cannuta 247, 00166 Rome, Italy
2Department of Systems Medicine, Medical Oncology, Tor Vergata Clinical Center, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Viale Oxford 81, 00133 Rome, Italy
3Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, Tor Vergata Clinical Center, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Viale Oxford 81, 00133 Rome, Italy

Received 8 January 2015; Accepted 28 May 2015

Academic Editor: Amina El Jamali

Copyright © 2015 Patrizia Ferroni 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.


Metabolic disorders, especially type 2 diabetes and its associated complications, represent a growing public health problem. Epidemiological findings indicate a close relationship between diabetes and many types of cancer (including breast cancer risk), which regards not only the dysmetabolic condition, but also its underlying risk factors and therapeutic interventions. This review discusses the advances in understanding of the mechanisms linking metabolic disorders and breast cancer. Among the proposed mechanisms to explain such an association, a major role is played by the dysregulated glucose metabolism, which concurs with a chronic proinflammatory condition and an associated oxidative stress to promote tumour initiation and progression. As regards the altered glucose metabolism, hyperinsulinaemia, both endogenous due to insulin-resistance and drug-induced, appears to promote tumour cell growth through the involvement of innate immune activation, platelet activation, increased reactive oxygen species, exposure to protumorigenic and proangiogenic cytokines, and increased substrate availability to neoplastic cells. In this context, understanding the relationship between metabolic disorders and cancer is becoming imperative, and an accurate analysis of these associations could be used to identify biomarkers able to predict disease risk and/or prognosis and to help in the choice of proper evidence-based diagnostic and therapeutic protocols.