Diabetic? If you use this medication, you’re at risk of…

Diabetes medication causes bladder cancerThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 29.1 million Americans have either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. This year’s World Health Day focused primarily on beating diabetes, which continues to be a worldwide problem. Drawing attention to this condition will hopefully help bring the number of cases down.

Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease, and lifestyle habits comprise a large contributing factor for its onset.


For diabetics, changing lifestyle habits can go a long way in managing the disease, but for many, medications are prescribed. A new study suggests that a common diabetes medication can actually raise a person’s risk of bladder cancer.

Diabetes medication raises the risk of bladder cancer

Researchers from the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada have found that the diabetes drug pioglitazone may increase the risk of bladder cancer. The bladder cancer risk rises with the increase in drug dosage, along with the duration of the medicated treatment. On the other hand, there was no increased risk of bladder cancer associated with a similar drug known as rosiglitazone.

In 2005, a clinical trial unexpectedly showed an imbalance of bladder cancer cases with pioglitazone, compared to a placebo. Since then, there has been a growing concern and controversy behind the use of pioglitazone, as different studies have found conflicting results.

The research team aimed to determine the pioglitazone-related risk of bladder cancer by comparing diabetics on pioglitazone to patients taking other diabetes drugs. The researchers found that pioglitazone did result in an increased risk of bladder cancer.

The researchers looked at data from 145,806 patients in the U.K. who were being treated with diabetes medication between 2000 and 2013. It’s important to note that contributing factors for bladder cancer – including age, sex, duration of diabetes, smoking, and alcohol consumption – were not taken into account.

Pioglitazone was associated with a 63 percent increase in the risk of bladder cancer, and the risk increased with dosage and duration of treatment.

Study lead Dr. Laurent Azoulay said, “In absolute terms, the risk of bladder cancer remains low. But doctors and patients should be aware of this association when assessing the overall risks and benefits of this therapy.”

Tips to prevent bladder cancer

Although there is no surefire way to prevent bladder cancer, there are steps you can take in order to reduce your risk. Some prevention tips for bladder cancer include:

  • Not smoking
  • Limiting exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Eating lots of fruits and vegetables

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