Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and risk of cancer in patients with diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Yiming Zhao, Yongjian Wang _, Hanyu Lou and Lizhen Shan

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:81027-81039. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17515

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Yiming Zhao1,*, Yongjian Wang1,*, Hanyu Lou1 and Lizhen Shan1

1 Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, the Second Affiliated Hospital Zhejiang University College of Medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

* These authors have Contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Yongjian Wang, email:

Keywords: alpha-glucosidase inhibitor, diabetes mellitus, cancer risk, meta-analysis, systematic review

Received: January 25, 2017 Accepted: April 17, 2017 Published: April 28, 2017


Several studies have shown that anti-diabetic medications may modify the risk of cancer. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (AGIs) on the risk of cancer in patients with diabetes mellitus. We conducted a systematic search of Medline, EMBASE, and Web of Science databases, up to September 30, 2016. Random-effects model was used to estimate the summary odds ratios (ORs) with 95% CI. Twenty-five studies (14 cohort, 7 case-control, and 4 randomized controlled trials) involving 1,285,433 patients with diabetes were included. Meta-analysis of observational studies showed that the use of AGIs was associated with a lower risk of developing cancer (OR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.78-0.96), especially gastrointestinal cancer (OR = 0.83, 95% CI 0.71-0.97). There was considerable heterogeneity across the studies introduced partly by the quality of included studies and adjustment for potential confounders. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials did not reveal any significant association between AGIs and cancer risk. Meta-analysis of observational studies indicated that AGIs may decrease the risk of cancer in individuals with diabetes.

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