New diabetes drugs double cancer risk

Heralded as the ‘darlings of diabetes treatment’ a new class of diabetes drugs, called incretin mimetics, commonly known as GLP-1 agonists, have been strongly linked to doubling the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a report out this week in the British Medical Journal, and Channel 4 Dispatches programme last night.

Instead of tackling the true cause of diabetes, which is sugar and refined carbs, high hopes had been put in a new class of drugs that promote something called GLP-1, thereby reducing diabetes and weight gain. We are already spending £600 million a year on these ‘incretin mimetics’, the two best-sellers being Exenatide and Liraglutide. Another new type of diabetes drug, called DPP-4 drugs (Sitagliptin) which block the DPP-4 enzyme thus increasing GLP-1, may have similar problems.(1)

Exposed in an in-depth article in the British Medical Journal, this is yet another cases where we’ve known about the potential dangers of these drugs to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, but the companies concerned have kept data hidden or downplayed. This is a very similar scenario to that found for glitazones, such as Avandia, which had been proven to increase risk of heart disease, but the data had been hidden. GSK ended up being fined big time in the US and drug companies are now fighting back to avoid a similar scenario. But the UK authority, the MHRA, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have been slow to fine and curtail these repeated shenanigans. If you don’t agree with this complacency, and the heavy-handed patrol of natural medicines, sign my ‘stop drugs companies putting profit before lives’ campaign.

When are we going to learn that the answer to diabetes is diet not drugs? Part of the answer lies in medical training. At Oxford University Medical School, considered one of the best on the world, trainees receive a paultry 10 minutes on nutrition for diabetes!

The safest drug is metformin, however it tends to lead to weight gain. Chromium works better than metformin, but without weight gain. Cinnamon also works, and helps to raise GLP-1 naturally. Read my book Say No to Diabetes for more on natural and effective diabetes treatment. If you’d like to read more on the inside story on these drugs read Jerome Burne’s blog at

1. D.Cohen Feature Diabetes Drugs Has pancreatic damage from glucagon suppressing diabetes drugs been underplayed? BMJ 2013;346:f3680