Diabetes, metformin and cancer risk in myotonic dystrophy type I

Rotana Alsaggaf, Ruth M. Pfeiffer, Youjin Wang, Diane Marie M. St. George, Min Zhan, Kathryn R. Wagner, Sania Amr, Mark H. Greene, Shahinaz M. Gadalla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Myotonic dystrophy type I (DM1) is an autosomal dominant multisystem disorder characterized by myotonia and muscle weakness. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cancer have been shown to be part of the DM1 phenotype. Metformin, a well-established agent for the management of T2D, is thought to have cancer-preventive effects in the general population. In our study, we aimed to assess the association between T2D, metformin use and the risk of cancer in DM1 patients. We identified a cohort of 913 DM1 patients and an age-, sex- and clinic-matched cohort of 12,318 DM1-free controls from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a large primary care records database. We used Cox regression models to assess cancer risk in T2D patients who were metformin users or nonusers compared to patients without T2D. Separate analyses were conducted for DM1 patients and controls. T2D was more prevalent in DM1 than in controls (8% vs. 3%, p < 0.0001). DM1 patients with T2D, compared to those without T2D, were more likely to develop cancer (hazard ratio [HR] = 3.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.18–10.97; p = 0.02), but not if they were treated with metformin (HR = 0.43, 95% CI = 0.06–3.35; p = 0.42). Among controls, we observed no significant associations between T2D and cancer risk in either users or nonusers of Metformin (HR = 1.28, 95% CI = 0.91–1.79; p = 0.16 and HR = 1.13, 95% CI = 0.72–1.79; p = 0.59, respectively). These results show an association between T2D and cancer risk in DM1 patients and may provide new insights into the possible benefits of Metformin use in DM1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-792
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • CPRD
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • metformin
  • myotonic dystrophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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