(NaturalNews) The FDA has begun investigations into whether the widely used diabetes drug pioglitazone (marketed as Actos) may increase the risk of bladder cancer.
Actos is already known to carry a risk of "serious side effects on the liver," writes Phyllis A. Balch in the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition. Nevertheless, the drug has remained one of the top-prescribed diabetes drugs because although it also increases patients' risks of heart failure, it is only half as likely to produce heart attacks as its primary competitor Avandia (rosiglitazone).
Following years of controversy, the FDA recently prohibited the prescription of Avandia except as a last resort in cases where all other diabetes drugs and treatments have failed.
According to a five-year study by Actos manufacturer Takeda Pharmaceuticals, patients taking the drug had a non-statistically significant, 20 percent higher risk of bladder cancer diagnosis. The risk was higher among patients who had been taking the drug for more than two years, and was highest among those who had been exposed to the highest levels.
Although the results of this study did not reach statistical significance, they were enough to spur the FDA to investigate further. Two prior clinical trials and a laboratory study in rats have also pointed to a link between the drug and bladder cancer.
Rates of Type 2 diabetes continue to rise worldwide with worsening diet and an ensuing higher prevalence of obesity. Studies have linked higher consumption of red and processed meats, eggs and fruit juice with a higher risk of the disease. Higher intake of coffee, fish, garlic, brown rice, turmeric, omega-3s and certain micronutrients have been linked with a lower risk.
In addition to eating a balanced diet, more exercise and more time in the sun (leading to higher vitamin D levels) are among the most reliable ways to reduce diabetes risk.