Glucagon-like peptide-1 analogues and risk of breast cancer in women with type 2 diabetes: population based cohort study using the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink

Objective To determine whether the use of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogues, compared with the use of dipeptidylpeptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, is associated with an increased risk of incident breast cancer in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Design Population based cohort study.

Setting Clinical Practice Research Datalink, UK.

Participants 44 984 women aged at least 40 years, who were newly treated with glucose lowering drugs between 1 January 2007 and 31 March 2015, with follow-up until 31 March 2016.

Main outcomes and measures Time varying use of GLP-1 analogues compared with use of DPP-4 inhibitors, with exposures lagged by one year for latency purposes. Time dependent Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals of incident breast cancer associated with use of GLP-1 analogues overall, by cumulative duration of use, and time since initiation.

Results The cohort was followed for a mean of 3.5 years (standard deviation 2.2), with 549 incident events of breast cancer recorded (crude incidence 3.5 (95% confidence interval 3.3 to 3.8) per 1000 person years). Overall, compared with use of DPP-4 inhibitors, use of GLP-1 analogues was not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (incidence 4.4 v 3.4 per 1000 person years; hazard ratio 1.40 (95% confidence interval 0.91 to 2.16)). Hazard ratios gradually increased with longer durations of use, with a peak between two to three years of GLP-1 use (2.66 (95% confidence interval 1.32 to 5.38)), and returned closer to the null after more than three years of use (0.98 (0.24 to 4.03)). A similar pattern was observed with time since initiation of GLP-1 analogues.

Conclusions In this population based cohort study, use of GLP-1 analogues was not associated with an overall increased risk of breast cancer. Although it is not possible to rule out a tumour promoter effect, the observed duration-response associations are likely the result of a transient increase in detection of breast cancers in GLP-1 analogue users.

Reference: BMJ 2016;355:i5340

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