Myth: Breast Cancer More Fatal Than Diabetes – Diabetes Twice As Deadly

In 1994, Universal Press Syndicate published a report stating that diabetes is twice as deadly as breast cancer in women. Linda Geiss, a researcher in Atlanta, wanted to find out if this statistic was accurate.

By examining death certificates, Geiss discovered that diabetes is twice as fatal as breast cancer.

A contributor to these statistics is the fact that the population with diabetes tends to be older than the non-diabetes community. Geiss learned that the risk of death from either disease is similar in women under 65 years old, but older women are three times more likely to die from diabetes than from breast cancer.

Geiss and a colleague also found that men and women with diabetes are ten times more likely than those without the disease to die from influenza or pneumonia. Death rates among the diabetes community increase 5-15% during flu epidemics, especially among those over age 65 and those with heart disease. Geiss discovered that only 1/3 of people with diabetes are immunized against influenza, and just 1/6 are protected against pneumonia.

This information was presented at the 55th Annual ADA Meeting and Scientific Sessions in Atlanta in June 1995.

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