Byetta, Januvia Raise Risk for Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Cancer, Study Finds

<"">Byetta and Januvia, both drugs that treat type 2 diabetes, have been linked to an increased risk of pancreatitis, and possibly pancreatic cancer, by a recent study published in the journal Gastroenterology. According to a report from EMaxHealth, animal studies of both Byetta and Januvia have previously shown that they can promote growth of the pancreatic ducts, and there has been concern that such a side effect in humans could increase the risk for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.

Januvia belongs to a class of drugs known as dipeptidyl peptidase−4 inhibitors, while Byetta is known as a glucagon-like peptide-1 mimetic. Both drugs lower blood sugar levels for diabetics by promoting the action of the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) in the gut.

The Gastroenterology study involved a review of side effect reports made to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Adverse Event Reporting System between 2004 and 2009. According to the Gastroenterology study:

• Use of Januvia or Byetta increased the odds ratio for reported pancreatitis 6-fold as compared with other therapies.

• The reported event rate for pancreatic cancer was 2.9-fold greater in patients treated with Byetta compared to other therapies.

• The reported event rate for pancreatic cancer was 2.7-fold greater with Januvia than other therapies.

The study authors also examined the frequency of reported adverse events of thyroid cancer with the GLP-1 mimetic therapies vs Avandia. According to the Gastroenterology article, the reported event rate for thyroid cancer in patients treated with GLP-1 mimetic therapy was increased and reached statistical significance in the Byetta group, but not among patients treated with Januvia.

Neither Byetta nor Januvia were associated with a higher reported rate of other cancers.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that, if chronic, can cause significant damage to the pancreas. Symptoms may include:

• Upper abdominal pain
• Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
• Abdominal pain that feels worse after eating
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Tenderness when touching the abdomen
• Indigestion
• Losing weight without trying
• Oily, smelly stools (steatorrhea)

Pancreatitis is a risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

• Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
• Pain in the upper or middle abdomen and back.
• Unexplained weight loss.
• Loss of appetite.
• Fatigue.

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