Experts have found that a commonly used diabetes drug could double the risk of bladder cancer.
Pioglitazone is taken by around 20,000 people in the UK. It is used to control blood sugar levels in sufferers of Type 2 diabetes.
But Canadian researchers, from the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, found that pioglitazone increases the risk of bladder cancer whilst comparable drug rosiglitazone did not.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, they looked at the NHS medical records of more than 115,000 people over 40 newly treated with diabetes drugs, and followed them for an average 4 and a half years.
They found that those who had ever taken pioglitazone were at an 83 per cent increased risk of developing bladder cancer. Those who had taken it for two years or more were at an 88 per cent increased risk.
However, they did note that in absolute terms the risk of getting bladder cancer was still small in those taking the drug. Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, said:
“We would reassure people that overall the risk of developing bladder cancer while taking pioglitazone is low and to stress that although taking the drug in the circumstances outlined has been associated with bladder cancer it has not been shown to cause bladder cancer.
"We advise that people taking pioglitazone should continue to take it and discuss any concerns they have with their health care professionals."
"We would also like to highlight that the associated risk of bladder cancer only applies to people who have been taking the maximum dosage of the drug – that is 45mg once a day for two consecutive years.
"Their study has shown no associated risk for people taking the lower doses of either 15mg or 30mg daily.”
Bladder cancer is associated with aging. Most cases occur in older adults, with the average age at diagnosis being 68 years of age. Rates of bladder cancer are four times higher in men than in women.
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