Study linking diabetes drugs to pancreatic cancer

1 0 Permanent Link

A ChanDiabetes blood sugar testingnel 4 Dispatches programme on tonight (10th June 2013) will be looking into the possible negative side effects of a popular range of diabetes drugs, known as GLP-1  or DDP4 inhibitors (drug names include exenatide and sitagliptin).  One of the potential issues raised will be its link to pancreatic cancer after hundreds of people in USA are suing manufacturers alleging that the drugs have caused pancreatitis and in some cases pancreatic cancer.

Professor Peter Butler at the University of California Los Angeles has also said that he identified changes in the pancreases of animals who received the GLP-1 based drugs.  In addition, eight organ donors who take the drug, were found to have abnormal changes to their pancreas, including pre-cancerous lesions.

Our medical specialists tell us that, overall, pancreatitis is a recognised but low risk in all GPL1 agents.  This is not new information and the risks were recognised when the drugs first came on the market.  The cancer risk is much more controversial and so far the link to pancreatic cancer has mainly been found in animal studies but the link in humans is less clear.

One consideration has to be that patients on GLP-1 –type diabetes drugs who stop treatment will then have to be given insulin to control their diabetes which carries its own risks.

Patients who are concerned about this should not stop their medication and should consult their own specialists .

In light of this news, we hope that further randomised, impartial studies into these drugs and their possible link to pancreatic cancer will take place.

Type 2 Diabetes has been linked to pancreatic cancer for some time but it’s not clear as to whether it is a contributing factor or a symptom of the disease.  More research into these drugs will hopefully uncover further information about the relationship between diabetes and pancreatic cancer. 

For the BMJ comment see:

One comment

  1. The USA is known to be a very litigious society and if cases are being brought it will be with some expectation of success. This is a worrying situation for those of us with both pancreatitis and diabetes. For those with chronic pancreatitis and a slight increase, approx 2% of it going cancerous adding in a drug such as this is worrying. The medical profession are very cagey on telling us the high death rate of us with pancreatitis being subjected to an ERCP – camera down the throat to look at the pancreas. If I was invited to talk to medics about this procedure and asked them not to do it and then thanked as I could say what the Conference speaker could not to his own professional audience. What chance is there that the medical profession are going to stand up and admit this increased risk? Personally pump therapy offers a flexible safe treatment for us without these risks so why do we have to be inflicted with these ‘designer drugs’ by people who think they know what is best for us. Why does no one ask the diabetic? This will become part of standard treatment for which we will be penalised for not following the regime and not given freedom of choice. It will be too late when the risk of cancer is proven. How sad that the patients wishes are ignored again and their fears and choices not listened to. We were all forced onto human insulin, for which I cannot take and use Humalog instead of Humalin, it will be the same here. We all deserve choice!! Especially the adults who can make an informed choice.

Comments are closed.