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What Diabetes Drugs are Linked to Cancer?

July 01, 2019

More than 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and another 80 million are labeled as prediabetic, meaning if they don’t change their lifestyle, they will end up with the disease.
Diabetics are generally tied to a lifetime of drug use to manage their condition, but what happens when those drugs cause further problems for the body?
Bladder Cancer Concerns
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release in 2016 that states medication containing pioglitazone could carry with it an increased risk in developing bladder cancer. According to the FDA, diabetes medications containing pioglitazone include Actos, Actoplus Met, Actoplus Met XR, Duetact and Oseni.
The press release says that studies did not definitively conclude that pioglitazone – which works for type 2 diabetes patients by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin – increases the risk of bladder cancer, but the FDA believes there has been enough research to suggest a possible link.
Pancreatic Cancer Risk
Researchers at UCLA have found an increase in pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer in people with type 2 diabetes who take the following drugs:
Januvia
Janumet (a combination of Januvia and metformin)
Byetta
Victoza
Bydureon
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that is often a precursor for pancreatic cancer.
Studies conducted in the United Kingdom found that insulin not produced by the body may also bring an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. However, others say the findings would not cause them to recommend a change in treatment for people using insulin.
Doctors believe the link between diabetes medications and pancreatic cancer comes from how these medications work. They reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics but can overstimulate the pancreas, which results in inflammation.
Healthy bodies produce a proper amount of insulin to help with digestion, as it converts glucose into energy for the body to function. Hormones make sure the body is producing the correct amount of insulin to accomplish this task. In diabetics, these hormones deactivate and halt insulin production, which results in a buildup of sugar in the blood. When the pancreas is damaged to the point where it cannot produce insulin as it is designed to, a person is diagnosed with diabetes. Taking certain prescription drugs can also add to this process, so you can see how it could overstimulate the pancreas.
Another factor that makes researchers less confident that specific diabetes medications can cause cancer is that patients typically don’t follow healthy habits to begin with. A poor diet and lack of exercise are two major causes of diabetes, and those factors can also lead to other health problems, including cancer.
However, while many of these drugs are linked to possible increases in cancer, the drug companies are not formally warning users of such risks on labels or in other correspondence to potential users.
If you or someone you love is diabetic and was later diagnosed with bladder or pancreatic cancer, a thorough examination of your case is required. A drug company’s negligence should not be tolerated, and we can hold them responsible. You could be entitled to damages to cover medical bills, transportation, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Stewart & Stewart’s attorneys aren’t afraid to hold the drug companies responsible, and our lawyers are some of the most experienced at handling drug cases in the Indianapolis area. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you – call 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.