Popular diabetes drug can trigger pancreatic cancer

May 1st, 2009 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 1 (IANS) A drug widely used in the treatment of Type-2 diabetes may trigger low-grade pancreatitis in some patients and a greater risk of pancreatic cancer in long-term users.
Pancreatitis simply means inflammation of the pancreas. Located in the upper part of the abdomen, behind the stomach, the pancreas plays an important role in digestion. Inflammation is a response of tissues to injury or irritation; characterized by pain, swelling, redness and heat.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) found that sitagliptin, sold in pill form as Januvia, caused abnormalities in the pancreas that are recognized as risk factors for pancreatitis and, with time, pancreatic cancer in humans.

Januvia (Sitagliptin) is a member of a new class of drugs that enhance the actions of the gut hormone known as glucagon, which has been shown to be effective in lowering blood sugar in people with Type-2 diabetes.

“Type-2 diabetes is a lifelong disease - people often take the same drugs for many years, so any adverse effect that could over time increase the risk for pancreatic cancer would be a concern,” said Peter Butler, the study’s lead investigator.

“A concern here is that the unwanted effects of this drug on the pancreas would likely not be detected in humans unless the pancreas was removed and examined,” he said according to an ULCA release.

An observed connection between Byetta, a drug used to treat Type-2 diabetes that is related to Januvia in its intended actions, and pancreatitis has already been reported, prompting a Food and Drug Administration warning.

The study has been published in the online edition of Diabetes.

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