Diabetes Drug Raises Cancer Risk

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thiazolidinedioneHere is news of another stain on the reputation of the pharmaceutical industry. U.S. researchers have uncovered a health breakthrough that shows a diabetes drug ups an individual’s risk of bladder cancer. That drug is taken by more than 15 million Americans.

Newly published online by the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute,” the study shows this popular group of drugs used to combat diabetes leads to a greater risk of bladder cancer. The class of drugs is called “thiazolidinedione,” or TZDs for short. About two in 10 U.S. diabetics will be prescribed a drug from this class.

PLUS: What we all used to think about these drugs.

Well, there is not-so-good news for TZDs, as they have been found to make patients up to three times more likely to develop this cancer than people who took another common diabetes drug, “sulfonylurea.” It is obviously of great importance that patients know of such dangerous side effects.

According to a press release by the University of Pennsylvania (where the research took place), the scientists say patients are already at slightly higher risk of bladder cancer. So this makes the situation even worse. Overall, about 30 in 100,000 people get this cancer. Among diabetics, the rate rises to 40 in 100,000.

Looking at a sample of 60,000 patients with type 2 diabetes, researchers found that those taking “pioglitazone” or “rosiglitazone” (both TZDs) for over a half-decade had a two or three times greater risk of bladder cancer. This translates to 170 in 100,000 people taking this drug getting bladder cancer. That is obviously far higher than the numbers above.

While rosiglitazone isn’t usually prescribed anymore due to heart-related problems, pioglitazone is right now the ninth most-prescribed drug in America. Doctors and patients alike might want to reconsider, or at least talk about potential side effects. In fact, in France and Germany, the drug is off the market. Here in the U.S., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about the bladder cancer risk. Basically, the new study piles on the negative news.

“We believe our study will help doctors and their patients weigh the potential benefits and risks when selecting between different diabetes medication,” the authors said in the release.

As usual, Doctors Health Press stresses that patients stay informed, especially of all drugs and supplements they take. Here is another reason why.