Incidence of Bladder Cancer in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Treated With Metformin or Sulfonylureas

  1. James D. Lewis2
  1. 1Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  2. 2Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  1. Corresponding author: Ronac Mamtani, ronac.mamtani{at}


OBJECTIVE Previous studies evaluating the effect of metformin on cancer risk have been impacted by time-related biases. To avoid these biases, we examined the incidence of bladder cancer in new users of metformin and sulfonylureas (SUs).

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS This cohort study included 87,600 patients with type 2 diabetes in The Health Improvement Network database. Use of metformin or an SU was treated as a time-dependent variable. Cox regression–generated hazard ratios (HRs) compared metformin use with SU use, adjusted for age, sex, smoking, obesity, and HbA1c level.

RESULTS We identified 196 incident bladder cancers in the metformin cohort and 66 cancers in the SU cohort. Use of metformin was not associated with decreased bladder cancer risk (HR 0.81 [95% CI 0.60–1.09]). This association did not differ by sex (P for interaction = 0.20). We observed no association with duration of metformin relative to SU use (3 to <4 years of use: 0.57 [0.25–1.34]; 4 to <5 years of use: 0.93 [0.30–2.85; ≥5 years of use: 1.18 [0.44–3.19]; P for trend = 0.26).

CONCLUSION Use of metformin is not associated with a decreased incidence of bladder cancer. Similar methods should be used to study other cancers that have previously been identified as potentially preventable with metformin.

  • Received June 24, 2013.
  • Accepted December 18, 2013.

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This Article

  1. Diabetes Care
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