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Type 2 Diabetes and Dangerous Medications
When you are first diagnosed with type 2
diabetes doctors will recommend you begin exercising and eating healthier
foods. That’s the first prescription the medical community turns to before
Why does being overweight contribute to type
2 diabetes? More than 85 percent of people who have type 2 are obese. There is
definitely a connection, but scientists are still uncertain as to what it is.
One theory is that having excess weight makes your cells more resistant to
insulin. If cells don't absorb insulin, blood sugar levels will rise, causing
Another study puts forward the theory that
fat buildup might essentially be blocking the pancreas from putting out insulin.
Fat could also be keeping the liver from absorbing insulin. That study found
that as people lose weight, the liver's ability to filter sugar improves and
the pancreas produces more insulin.
People with type 1 diabetes do not produce
insulin. They are mostly limited to insulin in the treatment of their condition.
People with type 2 diabetes are in a unique position. They developed the
disease later in life, possibly because of obesity. They still produce some
insulin, and medication can help to manage their disease.
People with type 2 diabetes also make up the
majority of diabetes cases — an estimated 95 percent. This makes people with
type 2 diabetes a very attractive target for pharmaceutical companies that want
to sell diabetes drugs.
One of the best-selling medications for type
2 diabetes is Actos, which works by making cells more sensitive to insulin.
When cells are more insulin-sensitive, they filter more sugar from the blood.
That lowers blood sugar levels.
Actos is manufactured by Takeda
Pharmaceuticals. The drug has made the company more than $16 billion in the
United States alone since 2007. All of this money may have helped to hide dangerous Actos side effects.
Actos has carried a black-box warning since
2007. The Food and Drug Administration only uses this warning on drugs that can
cause serious injury or death. Actos got its warning for increasing the risk of
congestive heart failure by 30 percent.
The drug also drastically increases the risk
of Actos bladder cancer. A U.S. study says Actos increases the risk
by 40 percent when the pill is taken for more than 12 months. Another study, published
in the British Medical Journal, says Actos can actually increase bladder cancer
risk by 83 percent.
Other type 2 diabetes drugs like metformin
and sulfonylureas can have side effects on the kidneys, liver and heart.
Patients and doctors should discuss each
medication option and then decide together which one is best.
Richards researches and writes about prescription drugs and medical devices for