The drugs that increase a man’s risk of diabetes

No one knows exactly why men end up with enlarged prostates as they age but the fact is that benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH affects approximately over 27 million men over the age of 50 per year, making it one of the most common diseases faced by aging men.

Living with BPH means discomfort and complications…

The enlargement of the prostate squeezes the urethra, irritating and blocking the bladder. The bladder wall thickens and becomes damaged. And, the risk of infection, stones, and even renal failure skyrockets.

That’s why so many men these days are prescribed drugs to treat their prostate problems, such as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors that reduce the production of hormones called androgens and help treat symptoms such as reduced urinary flow.

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Unfortunately, short-term studies have suggested that these drugs, which include finasteride and dutasteride, might cause problems of their own and could reduce the body’s response to insulin, an early sign of type 2 diabetes.

But, since the research wasn’t extensive, it was not clear how significant the risk really was and whether or not you should be worried. Luckily, a team, led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and University College London, can now answer those questions.

Additional monitoring needed

The researchers studied the health records from around 55,000 men in the UK, who had been prescribed 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors over an 11-year period.

And, they found the drugs were linked to an increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes of about one third. This means that in a population of 500 men on this treatment for 20 years, 16 extra cases of diabetes are likely to develop.

Just to make sure that their results were correct and there weren’t other factors at play, such as diet and lifestyle, they repeated the study on a different male population – Taiwanese.

Once again a similar effect was seen.

Dr. Li Wei, Associate Professor from UCL School of Pharmacy and the first author of the study said, “By studying real word data from different ethnic populations across the UK and Taiwan, we found that men being treated with dutasteride or finasteride for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) have a roughly 30 percent increased risk of developing diabetes. It is important that all patients are made aware of the risks and benefits of their medications. In this instance, men should be alerted to the increased risk of diabetes if they are taking these particular medicines for BPH, and should speak to their doctor if they are concerned.”

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Should you stop taking prostate drugs?

Since these prostate drugs so dramatically increase your risk of diabetes, should you stop taking them?

According to the team of researchers, not necessarily…

The team stressed that current treatment guidelines do not need to change, based on their study and say patients should continue to take the drugs.

However, they gave a clear warning that if you are on any of the 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, you should get additional checkups and regular monitoring so that your prescription can be altered if necessary.

The best thing you can do is to be aware of the higher threat of diabetes and follow Dr. Wei’s advice to talk to your doctor about alternative treatments if you’re concerned.

What are your alternatives? Your doctor may prescribe a different medication. Some supplements have been researched for their properties to relieve symptoms of BPH. Your diet can help or hinder your symptoms as well.

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  1. Causes and Statistics — Boston Scientific
  2. What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)? — Urology Care Foundation
  3. Prostate medicines linked to type 2 diabetes risk, study suggests — EurekAlert!
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.