Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and most patients who suffer from the condition are encouraged to lose weight. However, a type of commonly used diabetes drugs can actually increase body fat in people, according to new research published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
The body fat increase was associated with a class of type 2 diabetes drugs known as thiazolidinediones, or TZDs. Drugs in this class include Actos (pioglitazone), Actoplus Met (pioglitazone and metformin), Duetact (pioglitazone and glimepride), Avandia (rosiglitazone), Avandamet (rosiglitazone and metformin), and Avandaryl (rosiglitazone and glimepride).
The medical community has known for a while that TZDs can cause weight gain, but until now, the reason has been largely unknown. TZDs work by reducing the amount of sugar that is produced by the liver and lowering insulin resistance in fat and muscle. Researchers conducted tests on laboratory animals and found that these treatments also excite sensors on cells in the brain that trigger appetite, which can cause patients using these drugs to feel hungrier and, as a result, gain more fat and weight.
Weight gain in diabetic patients is already a recipe for danger. But also alarming is that one TZD, pioglitazone (Actos), has also been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, particularly in patients who used the medication for a year or more.
Several patients have filed lawsuits against the Takeda Pharmaceuticals, makers of diabetes drug Actos, claiming they became sick while the drug company worked tirelessly to cover up the drug’s bladder cancer risks.