Diabetes drugs raise risk of cancer death

Thu, 09 Feb 2006
A fairly common type of diabetes drug may lead to an increased risk of dying from cancer, according to a Canadian investigation. Patients suffering from type 2 diabetes who take the diabetes drug sulfonylureas seem to face a greater risk of a cancer-related death when compared to others who take metformin.

The investigatory study was carried out by the University of Alabama. The senior investigator, Dr Johnson, was reported to have said, "Our study on this relationship is very preliminary; it is still uncertain whether the increased risks of cancer-related mortality we observed are related to a protective effect of metformin or deleterious effects of sulfonylurea and insulin."

Sulfonylureas are a type of diabetes drug that boosts the production of insulin. Meformin, on the other hand, uses the body’s previously existing stores of insulin and making them more effective. Diabetes and cancer, as the investigating team noted, have often been linked together. The study group investigated by the team consisted of over 10,000 new users of the two sets of drugs, with an average age of 63.

Cancer-related mortality was found to be higher amongst sulfonylurea users.
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