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Study suggests prostate meds may increase risk for diabetes

Researchers say that men on the drugs dutasteride or finasteride should not stop taking them, but instead speak with their doctors about their individual risk for the condition.

By Tauren Dyson
Study suggests prostate meds may increase risk for diabetes
Men taking 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors had the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increased by a third, according to a new study. Photo by linerpics/Shutterstock

April 11 (UPI) -- A common prostate cancer drug has been linked to type 2 diabetes, a new study says.

Men taking 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors had the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increase by a third, according to research published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal.

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"We found that commonly prescribed medications for prostate disease can increase risk of type 2 diabetes," Ruth Andrew, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh and study senior author, said in a news release. "These findings will be particularly important for health screening in older men who are already typically at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. We will now continue our studies to better understand the long-term outcomes so we can better identify patients at greater risk."

The researchers found that men in Taiwan and the U.K. who used dutasteride or finasteride to treat benign prostatic hyplasia had a roughly 30 percent spike in type 2 diabetes.

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5-alpha-reductase inhibitors help men with symptoms of enlarged prostates, such as urinary flow problems, by reducing hormone production.

The researchers warn men taking 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors not to stop taking the drug. Instead, men taking these drugs should visit their doctors to see if their prescriptions need to be changed.

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"These findings should not be a major concern for men taking 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors medications. As doctors, we may need to review the way we monitor our patients to make sure we are extra vigilant for early signs of diabetes," said Laurence Stewart, a urologist at Spire Murrayfield Hospital and study author, in a news release. "Anyone with concerns should speak to their general practitioner or urologist for advice on alternative treatments."

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