People who recently started using a type 2 diabetes medication from a newer class known as incretin mimetics had double the risk of pancreatic cancer compared to diabetics who did not take the medication. However, the risk dropped to baseline with prolonged use, according to a new study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.
Researchers from Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands conducted a retrospective population-based cohort study involving 182,428 patients with at least one non-insulin anti-diabetic drug (NIAD) prescription and matched them with a control group of patients who did not have diabetes. They also used a new user design to estimate the risk of pancreatic cancer in the 28,370 patients who took an incretin mimetic (a type of NIAD drug), and compared them to patients who used other NIAD treatments as well as patients without diabetes.
Researchers found that the risk of pancreatic cancer increased fourfold in patients who used current NIAD, and that those who used drugs from the incretin mimetic class had almost double the risk. Newer users of incretin mimetics were at greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to patients who used the drug long-term.
Drugs in the incretin mimetic class include exenatide (Byetta, Bydureon), liraglutide (Victoza), sitagliptin (Januvia, Janumet, Janumet XR, Juvisync), saxagliptin (Onglyza, Kombiglyze XR), alogliptin (Nesina, Kazano, Oseni), and linagliptin (Tradjenta, Jentadueto). These drugs work by mimicking the incretin hormones that the body usually produces naturally to stimulate the release of insulin in response to a meal. They are used along with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several warnings about the link between Byetta, Januvia, Janumet and Victoza and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. The drugs have also been linked to a painful inflammation of the pancreas known as acute pancreatitis, a condition that also increases the risk for pancreatic cancer.