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The link between the diabetes treatment drug Actos and an increased risk of bladder cancer continues to get stronger. Actos (pioglitizone) is a drug often prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes in order to help regulate their blood sugar levels. Yet research that has been coming out over the last several months indicate that there is an increased risk of bladder cancer for those prescribed Actos as compared to patients on other treatment regimens.

As reported by Reuters, a study published by the British Medical Journal examined over 115,000 British patients between 1988 and 2009 who were recently prescribed diabetes drugs. The researchers looked at data from more than 600 medical offices in the United Kingdom. The study found that using Actos for more than 2 years increased the prevalence of bladder cancer. That increase was particularly pronounced for patients prescribed more than 28,000 mg of the drug.

The results of the study show that patients who had taken Actos had an 83% increase in the relative risk for bladder cancer, compared to patients prescribed other drugs. Yet, researchers point out that the absolute risk of bladder cancer remains low, with just 89 cases in total among the 100,000 people who had taken the drug at the point of the study. Still, they advise physicians to be aware of the risks and pursue alternative treatments that are available. This is in part because, as the investigators point out, “this was a drug-specific effect, because patients taking rosiglitazone (Avandia) did not have an elevated risk (RR 1.14, 95% CI 0.78 to 1.68)." The findings from "this analysis differed from those of a study being presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which suggested that the bladder cancer risk was a class effect for glitazones."

Patients who have been prescribed Actos and who are now suffering from bladder cancer may have legal recourse.

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