Type 2 Diabetes – Do Anti-Diabetic Medications Help Prevent or Treat Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, the organ responsible for making insulin, glucagon and some digestive enzymes. It leads to the release of digestive juices into the abdomen. Each attack causes further permanent injury to the pancreas, and eventually it becomes so damaged it cannot produce pancreatic juice nor the hormones insulin and glucagon. At this stage, the person will develop diabetes, and in addition to treatment with insulin, they are likely to require replacement pancreatic enzymes to allow the normal digestion of food.

The following study looked at pancreatitis in both diabetics and non-diabetics:

Researchers in the School of Medicine and Department of Family Medicine at China Medical University and Hospital in Taiwan, compared the incidence of pancreatitis in diabetic and non-diabetic study participants. Their aim was to measure the risk of pancreatitis in diabetics and discover whether anti-diabetic medications could help to prevent pancreatitis. Their results were published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology in May 2011.

Nineteen thousand five hundred and eighteen(19,518) people treated for diabetes and 78,072 adults without diabetes, were included in the study and actually followed for a period of three years. The participants who had diabetes had almost twice the risk of having pancreatitis as non-diabetic participants. It is true

  • alcoholism,
  • hepatitis C infection, and
  • gallstones

are all associated with an increased risk of pancreatitis. The good news is it was found the people taking anti-diabetic medications had a lower risk of pancreatitis than the people who were not taking drugs for their Type 2 diabetes. And what’s more, the risk of developing pancreatitis decreased the longer they were being treated with anti-diabetic drugs.

Most cases of pancreatitis are associated with alcoholism, and acute cases can be seen just after binge drinking. Other causes include:

  • mumps,
  • coxsackie virus,
  • Reyes syndrome,
  • autoimmunity (the immune system’s attack on the pancreas),
  • cystic fibrosis,
  • hepatitis,
  • too much fat in the blood,
  • hyperparathyroidism, and
  • particular medications.

Signs and symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • abdominal pain,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • yellowed skin and eyes,
  • weight loss,
  • diarrhea, and
  • clay-colored stools that float.

The pain can last for hours, days, or even longer, and is usually felt in the upper abdomen. It can radiate through to the back and tends to get worse with eating or drinking; particularly alcohol. The abdomen can enlarge with fluid and certain vitamins might not be absorbed.

When the condition is suspected there are several tests than can be used to diagnose it. A CT scan, ultrasound or magnetic resonance image can show abnormalities in the pancreas. Serum amylase is a blood test of an enzyme that can be elevated with pancreatitis.

It is treated with rest, pain medications, intravenous fluids, and stomach suctioning. Prevent having to go through that unpleasantness by avoiding more than one alcoholic beverage daily, eating a low-fat diet, avoiding viral illness and taking the medications that are prescribed for you.

Any condition which causes damage to the pancreas may lead to diabetes.

The Dangers of Diabetic Drugs

Diabetes Drugs Associated with Heart Disease

One common debate is whether diabetes medications increase the risk of heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires oral diabetes medicines to carry a warning regarding increased risk of heart attack.

Several studies have associated a diabetes drug, Rosiglitazone, with cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. Rosiglitazone belongs to a class of anti-diabetic drugs knows as thiazolidinediones. The generic name of Rosiglitazone is Avandia. It is often referred to as an insulin sensitizer and used to treat people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Studies Suggest Avandia Poses a Higher Risk of Heart Ailments

According to two extensive studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients who consume Avandia face a higher risk of developing fatal heart ailments.

The study conducted by Dr. David Graham, the associate director of the FDA, examined the data collected from over 220,000 elderly diabetics in a Medicare health insurance program who were either on Avandia or other diabetes treatment. The study found that patients on Avandia face an increased risk of stroke, heart failure and death, as compared to those not consuming the drug.

The other study headed by Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in 2007 raised public concern about the adverse cardiovascular outcomes of Avandia. The researchers performed a meta-analysis of the data collected from 56 different studies. They compared data from 35,000 patients on diabetes treatment. It was found that patients consuming Avandia faced 33 percent more risk of having a heart attack as compared to patients on other treatments. Also, Avandia was associated with increased risk of myocardial infarction and death from cardiovascular ailments.

Some of the other side effects of Avandia are upper respiratory tract infection, back pain, headache, fatigue, sinusitis, hypoglycemia, diarrhea and edema.

Do Diabetes Drugs Increase Risk of Cancer?

Conventional drug treatment for diabetes does not have a good track record. Prescription drugs have various side effects and are associated with severe health complications. Several researches have revealed that long-term use of some common diabetes drugs can increase the risk of cancer.

Oral Diabetes Medication May Raise Cancer Risk

An analysis of five-year data collected from an ongoing 10-year study, conducted by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, showed a link between the common anti-diabetes drug Actos and increased risk of bladder cancer. Actos is an oral prescription medication that is used for treating type 2 diabetes mellitus. The generic name of the drug is pioglitazone. It belongs to the class of drug called peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) agonists.

The observational cohort study was conducted on 193,000 diabetics associated with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health plan. The data was collected between January 1, 1997 and April 20, 2008. Higher incidents of bladder cancer were observed among patients who received pioglitazone for at least 2 years, as compared to those on other medication. Also, the diabetics with longest exposure to the drug and those with the highest cumulative dose experienced higher risk of bladder cancer.

Another study, conducted by Larry L. Hillblom Islet Research Centre at UCLA, associated a diabetes drug, sitagliptin with increased risk of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis. Sitagliptin is used to treat type 2 diabetes. The study was conducted on 40 human IAPP transgenic (HIP) rats. Both sitagliptin and metformin were given to the rats for 12 weeks. The researchers found that some rats had exceptionally high rates of cell production in the pancreatic ducts. Few rats developed a condition known as ductal metaplasia and pancreatitis.

A few other studies conducted on animals have linked Victoza, another anti-diabetic drug, with increased risk of thyroid cancer.

Type 2 Diabetes – Why It’s Possible That Diet & Exercise Work Better With Some Anti-Diabetic Drugs!

Type 2 diabetes is best managed by a truly natural approach… many people are convinced a natural approach to managing type 2 diabetes is the only way to go. Exercise and diet, these type 2 diabetics opine, is superior to taking medication and certainly superior to injecting insulin.

The reality is however, that some medications can do much more for your body that exercise and a diabetic eating plan alone are often unable to do in the early stages post diagnosis. And one of the medications that can help you get your blood sugar levels under control and back on track is metformin. This is because metformin, which is in the biguanides category, is really effective at keeping your glucose from fluctuating between meals.

A plant-based diet can definitely help you to reduce your calorie or kilojoule intake and gentle exercise can help you increase the number of calories you burn. Metformin (brand name Glucophage) however, adds another layer of anti-diabetic protection to an ordinary exercise and diet program.

Metformin activates the same fat-burning mode that you accomplish with long periods… at least 45 minutes, preferably 2 hours, of gentle aerobic exercise. But it keeps the fat-burning process going right through the 24 hour day. It also makes your liver much more sensitive to insulin so that your blood sugar levels are lower.

Lowering your blood sugar levels can reduce your appetite as well and this also gives your other tissues a chance to regain their responsiveness to insulin. Metformin is in the group known as biguanides, and these are effective at controlling or regulating the insulin levels released by your liver. They can sometimes be called insulin-sensitizing drugs because they also help to keep your blood sugars from fluctuating between meals. This is how this anti-diabetic drug is effective at promoting weight loss.

Metformin is one of the older medications for insulin resistance and despite the fact it costs as little as US$4 a month, it does actually work. It is commonly prescribed for prediabetes as well as type 2 diabetes… often when it is prescribed in prediabetes, it actually prevents the progression on to full-blown type 2 diabetes.

What you need to know about metformin is that the sooner you get your blood sugars under control, the less you are going to need to take it. Once metformin helps you lower your blood sugar levels and gets you back on track, you will be able to control your appetite without drugs. Then diet and exercise really may be enough to enable you to have stable and healthy blood sugar levels.