Epidemiologist Juhua Luo at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington received a $414,600 grant from the National Institutes of Health to examine the relationship between two common diseases, type 2 diabetes and breast cancer, providing answers that could improve cancer treatment.
Other studies have found that women who have type 2 diabetes in addition to breast cancer have a worse prognosis for their cancer compared to women who do not have diabetes as a pre-existing condition. The study by Luo, assistant professor in the school's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, will be unique in that it will use novel and improved approaches to examine which factors could contribute to the poor prognosis, such as biological effects, cardiovascular disease and variations in treatment.
The study will be the first to analyze data from a large and well-established group of women to answer these questions. Luo will use the NIH's Women's Health Initiative, a 15-year study that examined the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women.
Luo's research will also examine the influence of the drug metformin on breast cancer prognosis. Metformin is used to treat diabetes but is attracting interest in its potential anticancer effects.