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Actos (Pioglitazone) Linked to Bladder Cancer

Posted Jun 15 2011 8:28pm
Trying to stay on top of all the information coming out daily is a near impossible task.  It's been likened to attempting to drink out of a fire hose or hydrant.  Add to that an irascible Internet connection via satellite (I even had troubles onboard ship while in Vancouver's delightful Canada Place) and it's painful.

However, I also have to accept blame as I was at home w/excellent cable Internet access last September when the FDA first announced that they were investigating a possible link between Actos (pioglitazone) and bladder cancer .

But I was dealing with that miserable satellite Internet connection when the European Medicines Agency announced last Tuesday that they had noted an association between pioglitazone and bladder cancer after comparing over 155,000 French men & women taking some form of pioglitazone to 1.3 million diabetics not given pioglitazone for 3 years.  Two days later, the French government pulled pioglitazone off the market.  The Germans followed suit the next day .

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that our own FDA just announced today concurrence of a possible link between pioglitazone and bladder cancer based upon the same data.  But as with all observational data that is re-analyzed, this only offers an association but no proof of causation.  Thus, while the greatest risk of bladder cancer was noted in those who'd taken pioglitazone for at least 2-3 years, the FDA cautiously added a warning for use greater than 1 year to all product labels. 

What's this mean for you & me?  Before you abruptly stop taking pioglitazone, talk w/your family physician (as always).  What other options do you have?  What's your personal risk for bladder cancer?  If you've had environmental exposure to several compounds associated w/bladder cancer, you might want to consider switching.  Certainly, bloody urine needs further evaluation, especially if it's painless in a smoker.  And in the end, focus on nutrition & exercise as ideal & free risk-free solution to diabetes.

By the way, thank goodness for complimentary WiFi inside the Vancouver International Airport (YVR)!

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