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For years, healthcare experts have believed that there was a small risk of developing bladder cancer when patients use the diabetes drug ‘pioglitazone’, based on several studies using both animal and human participants. However, new research has revealed that there is actually no link between this medication for diabetic patients and bladder cancer.
The research team, which led the study for over a decade, found that participants in the study who used the pioglitazone (otherwise known as Actos) for over two years, they did not demonstrate any increased risk of the bladder disease.
Actos, or pioglitazone, helps to reduce the amount of glucose in the blood. As patients with type 2 diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin, the cells of their body respond less to the insulin that is produced. Since insulin is also the hormone that stimulates cells to remove glucose from the blood, the reduced amount of insulin in
The study analysed 1.01 million people with type 2 diabetes from across the world, spanning locations as far as British Columbia, Finland, Manchester and Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The scientists found that although a total of 3.248 cases of bladder cancer were identified throughout these participants, only 117 individuals had had contact or exposure to the pioglitazone drug.
This most recent study differs from other studies carried out on the effects of the drug in the past. A study carried out at the University of Pennsylvania showed a twofold to threefold increased risk of bladder cancer amongst diabetic patients who used pioglitazone for five years or longer when compared with patients who took another common medication (in this case, sulfonylurea) for their diabetes.
The authors of this study say that these results are definitive because they have taken extraordinary steps to eliminate all bias, including their choice to draw participants from a large, international pool of patients.