Treating Diabetes Can Reduce Breast Density on Mammograms Interview with:
Dr. Zorana Andersen

Department of Public Health
Center for Epidemiology and Screening
University of Copenhagen What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Andersen: Diabetes is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, but exact mechanisms are unknown. The role of insulin has been debated. High mammographic density (MD) is one of the strongest predictors and a biomarker of breast cancer risk. Few studies have linked diabetes to mammographic density, finding none or weak inverse associations, but none had data on diabetes treatment. We examined whether diabetes and diabetes treatment are associated with mammographic density in a prospective cohort study of Danish women above age of 50 years. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Andersen: Women with diabetes, as well as clinicians working with diabetes and breast cancer and breast cancer screening, would have interest to know how different diabetes treatment can affect breast density, and hereby possibly breast cancer risk. For example, diabetic women taking insulin may possibly benefit from informing radiologists at breast cancer screening about their insulin use, due to increased breast density and increased risk of masking bias. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Andersen: We would like to extend this study by follow-up of these women for breast cancer, to estimate effect of different diabetes treatments on breast cancer risk, and if there is a relationship between diabetes and breast cancer, to examine whether mammographic density is mediator of this relationship. Secondly, intend to reproduce the findings of this study in a bigger sample, with improved data on breast density and diabetes treatment, by data on specific diabetes treatment from Danish Prescription Registry. Finally, we would like to see results of our study reproduced in other studies. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Andersen: As there is currently ongoing debate on the role of insulin on the risk of cancer, including, breast cancer, we would like to emphasize that the findings of this study do not elucidate whether insulin increases or decreases breast cancer risk, only how it affects breast density. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation. “Diabetes treatment can reduce mammographic density: An important risk factor for breast cancer.”  8 March 2016.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Dr. Zorana Andersen (2016). Treating Diabetes Can Reduce Breast Density on Mammograms

Last Updated on March 9, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD