Special Alert: This Diabetic Drug Could Cause Cancer

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This health e-letter concerns a warning recently issued by the FDA. The health bulletin concerns a very popular diabetes drug. The drug is called Actos and has garnered Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceuticals close to $5 billion in worldwide sales. However, U.S. drug regulators have recently published an alert saying that Actos can increase the risk of bladder cancer if used for more than a year, In fact, The Food and Drug Administration said it is adding this information to the label for the drug after reviewing the preliminary five-year results of an ongoing 10-year study.

This announcement comes after France and Germany suspended sales of Actos last week due to similar worries about a possible risk to bladder cancer. The FDA said that studies showed that patients who had the longest exposure to Actos, and those taking the highest cumulative dose of the drug, had an increased risk of bladder cancer.

About 2.3 million patients filled a prescription for the drug from January to October of 2010, the FDA said. The FDA said it will continue to evaluate data from the ongoing ten-year epidemiological study, and will also review the results from a French study, which prompted the suspension of Actos in France.

For those with diabetes, high levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, can cause health problems. These problems include heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, nerve damage, digestive problems, eye disease, and tooth and gum problems. Diabetics help prevent health problems by keeping their blood glucose levels on target.

Sometimes, diabetics may need medicines to reach blood glucose targets. If your body no longer makes enough insulin, you’ll need to take a form of insulin. Diabetes pills help people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes keep their blood glucose levels on target. Several kinds of pills are available. Each works in a different way. Many people take two or three kinds of pills. Some people take combination pills. Combination pills contain two kinds of diabetes medicine in one tablet. Some people take pills and insulin. Regulating blood sugar can sometimes be a complicated procedure!

If you are worried about your blood sugar, remember that you need to choose foods wisely and be physically active to avoid the prescription side effects of taking diabetes medications. Learn what the G.I. Index is and get your doctor’s advice about keeping your blood sugar at normal levels.