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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Dangerous Side Effects of Actos

By William Johnson

Pioglitazone hydrochloride, commonly sold as Actos, is a popular medication for combating the negative effects of diabetes. It works by inhibiting the resistance to insulin that type II diabetes causes. Type II diabetes differs from type I diabetes in that instead of not producing insulin at all, the body does not respond to it. In cases of type I diabetes, the body's lack of production of insulin can be remedied by injecting insulin at regular intervals. But with type II, the insulin is already there, but somewhat unusable.

Generally diet and exercise can make the body more responsive to insulin, but maintaining this can be difficult. The drug works by decreasing insulin resistance in fatty tissue, muscle, and the liver and other organs. Less resistance to insulin means these organs can begin using and metabolizing blood sugar, bringing glucose levels down and stabilizing energy levels. This might seem like a magical cure, solving the problem exactly where it begins, but pioglitazone is not without its problems.

Problems generally deal with the parts of the body that the drug acts upon, although side effects can occur in non-targeted areas. For example, the drug helps fatty and liver tissue to break down and use glucose, but problems with fatty tissue can include water retention and swelling of fatty tissue. Because every human body has fatty tissue naturally occurring under the skin, a result can be swelling that seems to affect the entire body. It also may increase the tendency to bruise easily, due to increased sensitivity.

These are only the least harmful side effects. Fatty tissue, while uncomfortable when not functioning properly, is not generally life-threatening. When the medicine begins to adversely affect the muscle tissue, things become more serious. Since the heart is a muscle, pioglitazone can have dangerous effects on the heart and should never be taken by people who have a history of heart conditions. Litigation has rightfully occurred in cases of patients with an existing heart condition.

Probably the most sinister side effect is bladder cancer. Since this can take up to a year to manifest itself, Actos may not always be implicated. Furthermore, the cancer can take hold before the patient realizes that the medication is causes the cancerous condition. In many cases, the cancer is not noticed until the damage has already been done. For people taking the medication for less than one year, the danger is significantly lessened, but it is important to know about this danger before one begins taking the drug. Although a full Actos recall has not been enacted, prudence will dictate whether a diabetic wishes to expose himself or herself to this drug.

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