Inhaled steroids up diabetes risk: Study

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WASHINGTON - A new research has found that inhaled steroids increase the risk of diabetes.

Researchers at Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research concluded that patients taking inhaled corticosteroids are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and more so with higher doses.

However, the risk is of special concern for patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and much less significant for asthmatics.

“These medications are very effective in asthma, so the benefits clearly outweigh the risk for asthmatics. However, their effectiveness is questionable in COPD, where they are also used in higher doses. This is a very different risk/benefit situation,” said, lead author of the study, Samy Suissa.

Oral corticosteroids like predinisone have long been known to increase the risk of diabetes, but this is the first time the effect has been observed with the inhaled form.

Suissa and his colleagues used the extensive databases of nearly 400,000 patients treated for COPD or asthma and determined that inhaled corticosteroids increased the rate of onset of diabetes from 14 people per 1000 to 19 per 1000, or 34 percent, every year of use.

“These are not insubstantial numbers. Over a large population the absolute numbers of affected people are significant,” said Suissa.

“We recommend that physicians reserve the use of inhaled steroids for the patients who truly benefit from these medications, namely asthmatics, and curb their use in COPD to the few patients for whom they are indicated. In all cases, patients using high doses should be assessed for possible hyperglycemia and the lowest effective dose targeted,” she added.

The study is published in the American Journal of Medicine. (ANI)

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