Diabetes and gastric cancer: more evidence needed

A number of possible links between diabetes and cancer have been suggested in recent years.  This systematic review looked for observational studies reporting gastric cancer in association with diabetes.

The reviewers extracted data from 21 observational studies found by searching MEDLINE, EMBASE and reference lists.  They found no statistically significant link between diabetes and gastic cancer.  Although they report that women showed a significantly higher risk, the confidence interval was close to the line of “no difference”,

Appraisal hints

Readers of this paper are advised to consider the following:

  • There were important differences between individual studies.  The meta-analysis may be invalid.
  • Remember that any observed association may be due to a common factor that causes both diabetes and cancer, such as obesity.
  • Consider the impact of individual patient characteristics.


Ge Z, Ben Q, Qian J, Wang Y, Li Y.  Diabetes mellitus and risk of gastric cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Sep 19.


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I am an information scientist with an interest in making knowledge from systematic research more accessible to people who need it. This means you. I've been attempting this in the area of Evidence-Based Health Care since 1995. So far the results have been mixed. For some reason we expected busy clinicians to search databases and appraise papers instead of seeing patients. We also expected publishers to make the research freely available to the people who paid for it.. Ha! Hence The National Elf service.

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