Diabetics May Face Increased Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: Study

According to the findings of new research from Taiwan, diabetics may face an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, due to high levels of blood glucose. 

In a study published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on January 2, researchers from the National Taiwan University Hospital found a “strong linear dose-response association” between fasting blood glucose concentrations and the risk of pancreatic cancer, suggesting that diabetics are naturally at a higher risk of the potentially deadly form of cancer.

Researchers looked at nine studies that included data on 2,408 patients with pancreatic cancer, indicating that the higher the fasting blood glucose level in diabetics and prediabetics, the higher the risk of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

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The study authors said that the findings present even more impetus to get diabetes under control early.

“Every 0.56 mmol/L increase in fasting blood glucose is associated with a 14% increase in the rate of pancreatic cancer,” the researchers determined. “As prediabetes can be improved or even reversed through lifestyle changes, early detection of prediabetes coupled with lifestyle changes could represent a viable strategy to curb the increasing incidence of pancreatic cancer.”

The findings come amid continuing concerns about a potential increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer among users of certain diabetes drugs, known as incretin mimetics, which include Byetta, Victoza, Januvia and Janumet. Side effects of the medications have previously been linked to an increased risk of users developing pancreatitis, which some experts suggest may cause some users to eventually develop pancreatic cancer.

Byetta (exenatide) was the first member of the incretin mimetic class approved by the FDA, introduced by Amylin Pharmaceuticals in 2005 as a twice daily injection. Bydureon is an extended-release version of Byetta. Victoza (liraglutide) is a similar injectable diabetes drug introduced by Novo Nordisk in 2010 as a longer-acting daily injection.

A growing number of pancreatic cancer lawsuits have been filed against the makers of all four drugs following a number of studies that linked side effects of Januvia, Janumet, Byetta and Victoza to an increased risk of pancreatitis, which plaintiffs allege causes the development of pancreatic cancer in many cases.

There are currently more than 500 Byetta lawsuits, Januvia lawsuits, Janumet lawsuits, and Victoza lawsuits pending in the federal court system, which all involve allegations that the drug makers failed to adequately warn about the risk of pancreatic cancer associated with incretin mimetics.

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