New research into the inhaled corticosteroids used in the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has revealed a link to an increased risk of the development and progression of diabetes mellitus . It is thought that more than 70 per cent of patients with COPD using inhaled corticosteroids to treat their condition.
The research, by scientists at McGill University and the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, found that inhaled steroids were linked to a 34 per cent rise in the rate of onset and progression in the rate of diabetes, while the most inhaled doses actually increased the risk by 64 per cent of diabetes onset and 54 per cent of diabetes progression.
Samy Suissa, lead researcher, said that “High doses of inhaled corticosteroids commonly used in patients with COPD are associated with an increase in the risk of requiring treatment for diabetes and of having to intensify therapy to include insulin .”
He added “Therefore, patients instituting therapy with high doses of inhaled corticosteroids should be assessed for possible hyperglycemia and treatment with high doses of inhaled corticosteroids limited to situations where the benefit is clear.”
The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, examined data from over 380,000 patients that had received treatment for respiratory diseases, out of which 30,167 of the patients developed diabetes during the five and a half years follow-up, while another 2,099 progressed from oral hypoglycemic treatment to insulin.

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