Cancer and Januvia
Did you know that Medical Research indicates that a link may exist between Pancreatic Cancer and the Rx drug Januvia?
In 2009, the FDA had already received reports of 88 cases of acute pancreatitis among patients using sitagliptin. Two of the cases were of hemorrhagic or necrotizing pancreatitis. Both represent severe forms of the disease.
Then in 2011 a Medical Study was released that discussed and highlighted an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, as indicated by FDA adverse event reports.
Januvia – what is it and how does it work?
People who have type II diabetes cope with erratic blood sugar levels. As you probably know this problem is due to problems involving the body’s production or use of insulin. The body either fails to manufacture enough of it, or resists its effects.
Sitagliptinis the active agent in the Rx drug Januvia and Januvia class of drugs.
Sitagliptinis is known as a DPP-4 (dipeptidyl peptidase 4) inhibitor.
DPP-4 is an enzyme that degrades certain hormones produced in the GI tract – namely, the incretins GLP-1 and GIP. During their normally short lives (they break down within minutes), they stimulate insulin secretion while suppressing glucagon secretion in the pancreas.
By inhibiting DPP-4, sitagliptin prevents the almost-immediate degradation of GLP-1 and GIP. Both gastrointestinal hormones last longer. As a result, more insulin is produced by the pancreas while production of glucagon continues to be suppressed.
Both effects diminish as the individual’s blood sugar levels normalize.
How is it possible that Januvia and Pancreatic Cancer could be connected?
The enzyme responsible for the degradation of GLP-1 and GIP (DPP-4) is known to affect the progression of certain cancers into the body’s tissues.
The enzyme reduces the malignancies’ aggressiveness.
It is believed by some medical experts and some medical researchers that by Inhibiting DPP-4 is thus believed to contribute to the growth and spread of tumors.
When a tumor originates in the pancreas, its side effects are oftentimes so mild that they are all but undetectable.
As a result, the cancer is allowed to grow unnoticed and unhampered. In many cases, by the time symptoms finally surface, the disease has progressed to its latter stages of metastasis.
The earliest signs of possible Januvia side effects cancer are abdominal pain and jaundice.
The pain is often caused by growing tumors that have begun to exert pressure on the nerves and nearby organs. Depending on the location of the tumor – i.e. the head or tail of the pancreas – the pain may start to spread to the back.
Jaundice is a condition in which there is an excess level of bilirubin in the body.
Excreted by the liver, it travels with bile through the common bile duct. Its passage through the duct may become blocked when a tumor in the head of the pancreas grows sufficiently large. One’s skin and eyes will appear yellow.
Most people with advanced stage pancreatic cancer will experience also nausea and vomiting, and a loss of appetite. These symptoms are typically accompanied by marked weight loss.
The 2011 medical study, referenced above set forth and explained that an increased risk of pancreatic cancer exists with the use of Januvia. This report was published in the Medical Journal Gastroenterology.
The researchers’ found that exposure to the drug class of Januvia was associated with a 2.7-fold increase in the incidence rate of the disease compared to that of other therapies. They also found that exposure to Byetta, another diabetes medication examined for the study, was associated with a 2.9-fold increased rate of incidence.
The lead researcher, Dr. Peter Butler, later remarked that his group’s findings should not be considered to represent conclusive evidence. Dr. Butler cautioned that additional studies need to be conducted.
Chronic pancreatitis is known to be a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Given the large number of post marketing cases of pancreatitis identified by the FDA, combined with Dr. Butler’s findings, there appears to be at the very least a valid reason for concern.
If you or a loved one use or have used Januvia to treat your type II diabetes, and have since developed pancreatic cancer, call our Office to discuss this matter in more detail.