The type 2 diabetes drug pioglitazone (Actos) has once again been linked with an increased risk of bladder cancer in diabetic patients.
New research by scientists from the University of Alberta, Canada, found that adults with type 2 diabetes treated with the Takeda Pharmaceuticals-produced medication were more likely to develop bladder cancer compared to diabetics who had never used the drug .
For the study, the research team carried out a systematic review and analysis of clinical randomized trials and observational studies involving over 2.6 million type 2 diabetes patients who were treated with either pioglitazone or sister drug rosiglitazone (Avandia). Both are part of a class of medicines for the treatment of type 2 diabetes called thiazolidinediones .
They found that in all of the studies and trials, Actos use was associated with an elevated bladder cancer risk, with risk ratios among users ranging from 1.22 to 4.30.
“Although the absolute risk of bladder cancer associated with pioglitazone was small, other evidence-based treatments for type 2 diabetes may be equally effective and do not carry a risk of cancer,” the scientists said.
“This study quantifies the association between pioglitazone use and bladder cancer and may help inform decisions around safer use of pioglitazone in individuals with type 2 diabetes.”
They also noted that rosiglitazone showed no significant impact on bladder cancer risk in the some of studies, and that as a result, it remains unclear if the association with this form of cancer applies to all thiazolidinediones, or just pioglitazone .

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