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Incretin-based drugs and the risk of pancreatic cancer

In this retrospective cohort study, researchers sought to explore if incretin-based diabetes drugs were associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Specifically, the study was conducted to determine whether such agents, compared with sulfonylureas, were associated with an increased risk of incident pancreatic cancer in people with type 2 diabetes. The researchers examined health databases in the UK, the US and Canada over 6 years and found that incretin-based drugs were not associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared with sulfonylureas.

By Colin Kenny, GP, Dromore

While incretin-based drugs have the potential to offer improved hypoglycaemia and body weight profiles compared with older therapies, there has been concern that their use might be associated with the development of pancreatic cancer. Such a relationship has not been evident from randomised control trials, but the researchers decided to analyse a number of very large healthcare databases. Health records in the UK, the US and Canada offered a combined population of 972,384 patients initiating antidiabetes drugs over a 6-year period. In each cohort, incident cases of pancreatic cancer were matched with controls.

The researchers determined that the use of incretin-based drugs, compared with sulfonylureas, was not associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Nor was there a variation in risk relating to duration of use or drug type. These findings provide some reassurance on the potential association between incretin-based drugs and pancreatic cancer.

To access the full publication, click here

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