Common prostate drugs linked to diabetes: What you need to know

A medication commonly prescribed for prostate issues has been linked to an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes in men who take them. The study found 5-alpha-reductase may decrease insulin sensitivity in patients, an early warning sign that the individual may eventually develop type-2 diabetes. However, the team behind the study warns that patients shouldn't stop taking their medication — rather, the data reveals that patients should take an important preventative measure.

Prostate medications work by reducing the patient's androgen levels, causing the prostate to shrink and improving symptoms. That's a good thing for patients suffering from related conditions, but bad news if it paves the way toward type-2 diabetes, which is itself a serious disease.

Patients shouldn't stop taking their medication, the researchers warn. Rather, knowing the potential risk of type 2 diabetes associated with these drugs enables health care providers to monitor these patients for the condition. Identifying the presence of warning signs patients to make lifestyle changes and, if necessary, get the medication they need to deal with the issue.

The conclusion is based on a study of health records belonging to 55,000 men from the UK who had been prescribed a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes has increased by around one-third for these men.

Talking about the research was study senior author professor Ruth Andrew, who said:

We found that commonly prescribed medications for prostate disease can increase risk of type 2 diabetes. 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.