UK Health Radio - Medical News Update
Alarming news today reported by the BBC claims that for the UK’s many type 2-diabetes sufferers the downside of taking medication for type-2 diabetes may exceed the benefits for some of them. A study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, argued that elderly people on medication to treat diabetes had the least to gain.
The research team at University College London (UCL) has urged doctors to discuss the risks more clearly with patients and the charity Diabetes UK has also said doctors need to strike a careful balance when prescribing treatment.
Type-2 diabetes is an inability to control blood sugar levels and is linked to lifestyle factors including diet and obesity. It is linked, long term, to heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage and blindness.
Drugs such as metformin are given to lower blood sugar levels to prevent the side effects. The report, which was carried out by the University of Michigan as well as UCL, said an average 45-year-old who dropped their blood sugar levels by one percentage point would gain 10 months of healthy life, compared with just three weeks for a 75-year-old starting on the same treatment.
One of the report's authors, Prof John Yudkin, told the BBC: "What it means is if you're someone with type-2 diabetes, it's your right to know what the benefits of the treatment are in terms of gain in life expectancy or reduction in heart attacks or going blind, but not many doctors have got those figures to hand."
The findings do not apply to people with type-1 diabetes.
Commenting on the report, Simon O'Neill, the director for health intelligence at Diabetes UK, said: "Sometimes there is a balance to be struck where certain medications might help give someone a longer life, but also cause side effects that might negatively impact on quality of life. All patients are advised not to make any decisions without consulting their GP first.
Refreshed guidelines are due to be published next summer.
UK Health Radio Medical News Update
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