It’s the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States. Called a “silent killer” for its symptom-free early stages, it’s unfortunately often not caught until it’s advanced.
Once someone gets a diagnosis, the chances of survival are generally pretty slim. Pancreatic cancer is an awful killer.
And your diabetes medication could be increasing your risk of developing it, according to a new study in the journal Gastroenterology.
UCLA researchers pored over FDA database entries of adverse events reported among patients using the drugs sitagliptin (brand name Januvia) and exenatide (brand name Byettta) between 2004 and 2009.
What they found is downright disturbing: a six-fold increase in the odds of pancreatitis (compared with four other diabetes therapies). They also found that patients taking the drugs may be more likely to end up with pancreatic cancer: a 2.7-fold increase associated with patients taking sitagliptin and a 2.9-fold increase in the rate of pancreatic cancer linked to patients taking exenatide.
They also found an increase in thyroid cancer risk with exenatide use.
The researchers were compelled to look into the pancreatic cancer connection after animal studies showed that the drugs caused abnormal growth of ducts in the pancreatic gland that carry digestive juices to the gut. They worried that if this happened in humans, it could translate to an increased risk of cancer. And, sadly, it looks like they could be right.
Both sitagliptin and exenatide enhance the action of a hormone called GLP-1, which lowers blood sugar. Now, here’s the kicker: Previous UCLA research, published in 2009, has suggested a link between these types of drugs and pancreatitis. Of course, nobody has done anything about it.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of “modern medicine” asking us to trade one disease for another. Why should you be asked to trade your diabetes in for a risk of deadly cancer? Especially when natural medicine offers so many safe and effective alternatives. The mainstream needs to stop pretending that those alternatives don’t exist.
Of course, I’m not holding my breath for that to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, I’ll keep uncovering the news they don’t want you to know.
Ms. O’Brien has written for Nutrition & Healing, Healthier Talk and a variety of other natural and alternative health outlets. She believes in the power of natural medicine and her goal is to open people’s eyes to the benefits of alternative and integrative medicine.
Christine is passionate about helping people help themselves without having to turn to harsh drugs or invasive surgeries.
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