diabetes drugs

  1. Mainstream press misses link between diabetes drug Actos and cancer

    A few weeks back, I slammed the diabetes drug Actos, despite new research (covered in TIME and The New York Times) that it decreases your risk of developing diabetes.

    Turns out, I should have come down harder on that darned drug.

    In fact, this week researchers published a report that found an association between Actos and cancer. Plus, this isn't the first study to uncover a link between Actos and increased cancer risk.

    I‘ll give you all the grisly details in a moment. But first, let‘s back up a few months...

    Proof that mainstream reporters eat whatever‘s fed to them

    A month ago, Actos sounded like a wonder drug. Everywhere you looked the mainstream press kept repeating the same statistic...men and women with pre-diabetes who took Actos lowered their risk of developing full-blown diabetes by 72 percent.

    Sounds impressive, right? Actos may prevent diabetes!

    But remember the key flaw I told you about (and the mainstream press conveniently omitted)?

    The study was exceptionally small. In the end, we're talking  about a total difference of 35 people! Considering that 300 million pre-diabetics live in the U.S., how could any doctor give Actos to just one of them based on such slim evidence?

    And here‘s the icing on the cake...

    Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Actos, actually conducted this shaky study. In my book, it was purely a PR scheme to boost sales. Actos‘s patent expired in January of this year. But Takeda Pharmaceuticals struck a deal to delay entry of generic versions of the drug until August 2012. Was this their last-ditch effort to boost sales before the generics hit the market?

    Or maybe...

    Was it their last-ditch effort to boost sales before something far worse hit the fan. such as a link between Actos and cancer surfacing...?

    Researchers link Actos and cancer

    The FDA tries to keep tabs on all prescription and OTC drugs once they hit the market.

    So when you take a drug, even a drug like Tylenol, and have a bad reaction, you‘re supposed to report it to the FDA. Similarly, when you go to see your doctor and talk about your bad reaction to a drug, your doc should report it to the FDA.

    The FDA keeps track of all these "adverse reactions" -- no matter how small -- in a massive database. This is called the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting Program. The FDA compiles and publishes the data annually.

    But in the case of Actos...

    A group of Italian researchers analyzed all the adverse events reported to the FDA between 2004 and 2009 for 15 diabetes drugs on the market, including Actos and metformin.

    When they analyzed the reporting odds ratio (ROR), they found a "definite risk" linking Actos and bladder cancer. The risk of bladder cancer and the other diabetes drugs was "much weaker."

    The researchers aren't sure why Actos may increase your risk of developing bladder cancer. But they think it may have to do with certain receptor cells in your body. You see, Actos works by opening receptor cells so they will become more responsive to insulin. But this may also encourage them to turn cancerous.

    Now here‘s what troubles even more...

    Actos may be linked to even more problems

    The FDA‘s Adverse Event Reporting System isn‘t perfect. (I know. It‘s shocking, right?)

    You see, it‘s completely voluntary. It stands to reason there could be more cases linking Actos and cancer that we don't know about.

    For example, say Joe Smith from Indiana began taking Actos in 2004 for diabetes. Then, out of the blue, he got bladder cancer in 2008. Maybe his doctor never thought to connect Actos to his bladder cancer. None of this business about bladder cancer had hit the press yet.

    Now, let's say Joe is one of the lucky ones and went on to survive bladder cancer. He‘s no longer in treatment. Now we know about the Actos and cancer link. But his doctor never reported it to the FDA back in 2008 because back then, no one did.

    Hopefully, this new study will start to spread some awareness. Just don't count on the FDA to move quickly. They have known about the possible link between Actos and bladder cancer for at least a year.

    In fact, last year the FDA began to take a closer look at Actos after receiving early results from a long-term study by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. That study showed patients with the longest exposure (or highest cumulative dose) to Actos had in increased risk of developing bladder cancer.

    It will be interesting to see if TIME or The New York Times follows up on their Actos report, won‘t it?

    (I‘m not holding my breath. Before sending this week‘s GUIDE TO GOOD HEALTH off to my editor, I ran a quick Google search. At that point, The NYT still hadn‘t run anything about the new data linking Actos and cancer. That‘s a full three days after the research hit the newswire. I‘m betting they just let it slip on by.)

    Well, maybe TIME Magazine will run something in its next issue. After all, the mainstream press is our last unbiased bastion of truth. (Yeah right.)

  2. Manage your blood sugar safely, without Avandia side effects

    Last month, the FDA restricted sales of the diabetes drug Avandia because of Avandia side effects. From now on, you can only get it if you‘ve tried every other drug on the market without success. Or, if you‘re already taking Avandia, you‘ll be allowed to continue to take it as well. (Hopefully, this one doesn‘t apply to you.) But you‘ll have to attest that you understand the serious risks involved...namely that taking Avandia side effects may include increase risk of  having a heart attack and stroke.

    And that risk is nothing to sneeze at. According to a recent New York Times article, "One study estimated that from 1999 to 2009, more than 47,000 people taking Avandia needlessly suffered a heart attack, stroke or heart failure, or died."

    Sensibly, the European Union banned Avandia all together.

    The good news is, in many cases, natural methods can help control your blood sugar. Visit and  search the NorthStar Nutritionals blog and search on blood sugar support and diabetes. You‘ll find numerous articles about how to naturally lower your blood sugar.

    One recent article tells you how men and women with diabetes lowered their fasting blood sugar levels by up to 29 percent in just 40 days without drugs or major changes in their diet. How‘d they do it? Just click here to find out.

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