Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Cancer and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

An association between anti-platelet drug use and reduced cancer prevalence in diabetic patients: results from the Vermont Diabetes Information System Study

Chris E Holmes1*, Maria E Ramos-Nino2 and Benjamin Littenberg3

Author Affiliations

1 Hematology and Oncology, University of Vermont, Given Building Second Floor, Burlington, VT 05401, USA

2 Department of Pathology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA

3 University of Vermont, 89 Beaumont Avenue, S459, Burlington, VT 05405, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2010, 10:289  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-289

Published: 15 June 2010



Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of several malignancies. Both diabetic patients and patients with cancer have an increase in platelet reactivity and platelet activation has recently emerged as a potential mediator of cancer progression. Drug therapies, such as aspirin, that reduce platelet reactivity reduce both cardiovascular and cancer risk.


We performed a cross-sectional analysis to assess the association between history of cancer and current anti-platelet drug use in a primary care population of adults with diabetes enrolled in the Vermont Diabetes Information System.


Self-reported characteristics, medical history, and a complete medication list were recorded on 1007 diabetic adults. Fifty percent of diabetic patients used an anti-platelet drug. In unadjusted analysis, no association was seen between anti-platelet drug use and cancer history (OR = 0.93; P = .70). Platelet inhibitor use was associated with a decreased patient-reported history of malignancy in a multivariate logistic regression adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, comorbidity, and number of medications (OR = 0.66; CI 0.44-0.99; P = .045). Similar odds of association were seen in both males and females, and for aspirin and non-aspirin platelet inhibitor therapy.


Our data suggest an association between anti-platelet drug use and reduced cancer prevalence in patients with diabetes. Given the potentially large implications of our observations in the diabetic population, further studies are required to determine if this association is causal.