Prostate drugs: A risk factor for diabetes?

Men who take medication to reduce symptoms of prostate disease more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. /Net Photo

Prescribed drugs to help them urinate are a third more at risk of type 2 diabetes- Research shows

Men who take medication to reduce their symptoms of prostate disease may be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, research suggests.

Patients with enlarged prostates who are prescribed drugs called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are around a third more at risk of the condition.

They reduce the production of androgens, a hormone which help to boost urinary flow, a common problem among men with enlarged prostates.

But these drugs - which include finasteride and dutasteride - may slow metabolism and reduce the body’s insulin sensitivity, which can trigger type 2 diabetes.

The research was carried out by the University of Edinburgh and University College London. It was led by Professor Ruth Andrew, a personal chair of pharmaceutical endocrinology at Edinburgh.

‘We found that commonly prescribed medications for prostate disease can increase risk of type 2 diabetes,’ Professor Andrew said.

The 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are often prescribed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the medical term for an enlarged prostate.

This becomes more common with age, with an estimated prevalence of between eight and 60 per cent in men aged 90.

To determine the health effects of the drug, the researchers analysed the health records of 55,275 men in the UK who had been prescribed 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors for their BPH over 11 years. 

Results - published in the British Medical Journal - revealed the drugs raise a man’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by around one-third.