Diabetes Care Study Finds Increased Cancer Risk With Glyburide

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Researchers analyzed patient records from a 25-year period and found risks increased with higher doses and longer periods of treatment.

The sulfonylurea glyburide is associated with a greater risk of cancer than other drugs in its class, according to results published in Diabetes Care. The drug has been prescribed to control blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes for decades.

Researchers from the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology, Lady Davis Institute at Jewish General in Montreal used data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink to review records of more than 52,600 patients who were prescribed a sulfonylurea over a 25-year period ending in 2013.

Initially, the use of glyburide in 3413 patients was associated with a 9% increased risk of any cancer, which was not considered significant. However, a closer examination of risk associated with higher doses and longer duration of therapy showed connections to higher risks of cancer.


Researchers pulled records from a database of 13 million people and focused on patients over 40 who had been treated with second-generation sulfonylureas, which are glyburide, gliquidone, glicazide, glimepiride, and gliplizide.

After at least 36 months of use, the risk of cancer for patients taking glyburide was 21% greater than for patients taking the other drugs in the class. Higher doses were also associated with a 27% increased risk of cancer.

“In this population-based cohort study, longer cumulative durations and higher cumulative doses of glyburide were associated with an increased risk of cancer,” wrote the authors, led by Marco Tuccori, PhD.



Tuccori M, Wu JW, Yin H, Majdan A, Azoulay L. The use of glyburide compared with other sulfonylureas and the risk of cancer in patients with type 2 diabetes [published online September 4, 2015]. Diabetes Care. 2015; doi:10.2337/dc15-1358