Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Diabetes May Raise Risk for Head and Neck Cancer

By Larry Hand
Medscape Medical News

July 29, 2014 -- The risk for head and neck cancer is higher in people with diabetes than in those without diabetes, according to a new study.

That risk is greater for people 40 to 65 years old.

Kuo-Shu Tseng, PhD, from Tainan University of Technology in Taiwan, and colleagues compared the records of 89,089 people newly diagnosed with diabetes with those of people who didn't have diabetes. They got the data from a Taiwan's Longitudinal Health Insurance Research Database, which has claims information on 23.3 million beneficiaries between 1996 and December 31, 2011.

They found that the risk of head and neck cancer was almost 50% higher for the diabetes group. To put that in perspective, the risk is low, and just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you’ll get head and neck cancer. It just means that the chance is a bit higher than for someone without diabetes.

The study was published online July 24 in JAMA Otolaryngology.

People ages 40 to 65 in the diabetes group had a significantly higher risk of developing head and neck cancer, and men had higher risk than women.

The most common site of head and neck cancer was the mouth (57.1%) in the diabetes group. The next-most-common cancer site was the nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat behind the nose.


The researchers write that theories for the link between diabetes and head and neck cancer include genetic risk factors and long-term exposure to high levels of insulin in the blood, which has already been linked to breast cancer.

A weakness of the study is that several suspected risk factors for head and neck cancer, such as people's histories of using alcohol, smoking tobacco, and physical activity, weren't available in the database.

This research was supported by the Taipei Medical University and Chi Mei Medical Center Research Fund. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
jennie brand miller

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner