Prescription drugs administered to help treat an enlarged prostate gland could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
A study involving 55,000 men was carried out by the University of Edinburgh and University College London (UCL) across 11 years.
They looked at how taking 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors impacted the health of all participants. They found evidence to suggest the drugs increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by a third.
The 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors medication is commonly given to men who have an enlarged prostate. The researchers stressed they are still safe to take, but recommended people may require an additional health check to discuss their medication.
“These findings will be particularly important for health screening in older men who are already typically at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. We will now continue our studies to better understand the long-term outcomes so we can better identify patients at greater risk,” said senior author Professor Ruth Andrew, of the University/British Heart Foundation Centre for Cardiovascular Science at the University of Edinburgh.
Dr Li Wei, Associate Professor from UCL School of Pharmacy and first author of the study, added: “By studying real world data from different ethnic populations across the UK and Taiwa, we found that men being treated with dutasteride or finasteride for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) have a roughly 30% increased risk of developing diabetes.
“This demonstrates the importance of how routinely collected healthcare data can be used to identify significant clinical links. It is important that all patients are made aware of the risks and benefits of their medications. In this instance, men should be alerted to the increased risk of diabetes if they are taking these particular medicines for BPH, and should speak to their doctor if they are concerned.”
The findings have been published in the British Medical Journal.

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