People with diabetes find themselves at increased risk for a number of potentially life-limiting secondary conditions. One of those conditions happens to be pancreatic cancer. Known as one of the most deadly forms of this disease, the five-year survival rate is on average less than 6 percent. With those grim figures in mind, many diabetics strive to lower their overall risk for this condition. As it turns out, one of the medication types used to treat diabetes may put people at greater risk. Researchers are finding, however, that the rise in risk does drop over time.
To understand the risks posed by incretins researchers in the Netherlands recently conducted a study. Incretins are commonly prescribed diabetes medications that are designed to promote normal blood glucose levels by stimulating more effective insulin release. Seen as critical for helping control this condition, the medications are also associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
The Netherlands study focused in on more than 180,000 patients. Doctors there found overall the risk for pancreatic cancer rose four-fold for new users of incretins. Over time, however, they found the risk for developing this form of cancer began to drop to baseline levels.
The full implications of incretin use and their connection to pancreatic cancer are not yet known. This particular form of drug, however, is often seen as critical for controlling sugar levels and helping diabetics stave off other potential complications.
People who are diagnosed with diabetes should work carefully with their healthcare providers to lay out the best course of action. Keeping blood sugar tightly controlled is a key to preventing such complications as heart disease and blindness. It is important, however, for diabetics to also know their risk for developing pancreatic cancer and the potential warning signs to look out for. Early detection of this disease is critical for increasing the chances for survival.