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New Study Links Diabetes Drugs to Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Whitney | March 21st, 2013

Diabetes DrugsThe FDA is reviewing results of a recent study after concerns were raised about the association between some types of diabetes drugs and a higher risk for pancreatic cancer. The unpublished study was performed by academic researchers and was based on a small number of pancreatic tissue samples from patients who had been undergoing treatment for diabetes prior to their deaths.

Study points to specific class of diabetes drugs

The class of drugs examined in this study was incretin memetics, which include medications like liraglutide, sitagliptin, linagliptin, alogliptin, saxagliptin, and exenatide. Brand names of these drugs include Byetta, Victoza, Januvia, Onglyza, and Nesina. Researchers found pre-cancerous cellular changes in a small number of tissue samples from the patients that took this particular class of drugs to treat type II diabetes.

Although the FDA is investigating the link at this time, the agency stresses that they have not found a definitive link between these medications and pancreatic cancer. They are advising patients currently taking medications in this class to continue their prescriptions and talk to their doctors about any concerns. The FDA will make their findings public once their review is complete.

New research follows previous study linking drugs to pancreatitis

This recent research closely follows on the heels of a previous study linking use of the same class of drugs to an increased risk of pancreatitis. Previously, the FDA had added warnings to labels for Byetta in 2007 and Januvia in 2009, alerting users to a possible association between the medication and pancreatitis. A recent study reported at the FDA website showed that patients who took exenatide and sitagliptin could double their risk for acute pancreatitis.

Manufacturers of the drugs are refuting the findings, stating the diabetes drugs are both safe and effective. Merck has stated they are confident of the safety of sitagliptin specifically, which is found in the company’s products, Janumet and Juvisync. A spokesperson for the company said no compelling evidence has been discovered at this time to establish an association between sitagliptin and pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

Other options for treating type II diabetes

For those who are concerned about the possible side effects of some drugs used to treat type II diabetes, there is another option available. The Center for Medical Weight Loss works with type II diabetes patients every day, helping them achieve a healthy weight and lifestyle that helps them effectively manage and even reverse their condition. Dr. Michael Kaplan, chief medical officer and founder of the center, explains, “We see diabetic patients all the time who lose weight and no longer need insulin.”

The Center for Medical Weight Loss uses programs customized to each patient that incorporate a diabetic diet, daily exercise, and personalized counseling. According to research published in major medical journals, patients at the clinic typically lose 11.1 percent of their body weight in just 12 weeks on the program. The majority keep the pounds off for one year or more.

There are currently more than 450 centers around the country helping patients lose weight and effectively manage their diabetes. Enter your information in the boxes at the right to find a center near you. Introductory offers are available to first-time visitors at select locations.