WEEKLY HEALTH BULLETIN November 13, 2009

COMMON DIABETES DRUGS INCREASE DEATHS

Commonly prescribed drugs for diabetes appear to be killing off people with diabetes.

A recent study from Denmark looked at 9,135 people with diabetes who had heart attacks. Those folks on four widely prescribed sulfonylureas had a 33% to 43% increased risk of death from all causes compared to people on metformin (Glucophage). The four culprit drugs in the study were glimepiride, glyburide, glipizide and tolbutamide. (Reported in Internal Medicine News, October 15, 2009).

The results of this study should not come as a surprise. What should come as a surprise is that sulfonylurea drugs for diabetes are still used by doctors. That’s because a study published in the Canadian Medical Journal in 2006 showed a similar result. People on high dose glyburide had a higher death rate than people on Metformin. Those pesky Canadians, not especially beholden to Big Pharma, are always answering troubling questions like this then being ignored by their neighbors to the south and overseas, too, it appears.

Glyburide, which whips the pancreas into producing more insulin, apparently has similar effects on heart cells, which it may whip into an early death.

Of course the question that always needs to be asked is how people with diabetes would do on a balanced whole foods diet with normalization of body weight, adequate sleep and exercise plus a few basic supportive supplements, such as omega 3 fatty acids from fatty fish or fish oil and Vitamin D3 . . . compared to this or that drug.

HORMONE TREATMENT FOR PROSTATE CANCER BOOST HEART DISEASE RISK

A large study done in Sweden of over 30,000 Swedish men showed that men treated with hormone therapy for prostate cancer are at increased of developing and dying from heart disease. Their risk of heart attack increased by 24% compared to the general population. The risk of death from heart attack increased 28%. The greatest risk was from the so-called GnRH agonists – a 33% increase. Testosterone is believed to have heart protective effects.

It is not surprising that blocking all testosterone might have an adverse effect on the heart.

Strictly speaking, this does not necessarily mean that all endocrine treatments for prostate cancer should be jettisoned. The majority of the subjects had locally advanced of metastatic forms of prostate cancer. It does mean, at the very least, that heart disease risk should be taken into account before embarking on hormonal therapy – sometimes referred to as “chemical castration” — for severe forms of prostate cancer. (Reported in Internal Medicine News, October 15, 2009).

Alan Inglis MD
American Country Doctor

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