Diabetes drug in new health scares

There's a lot I can tell you about the diabetes drug Actos, and none of it's good.

But let's start with the one serious risk that just won't go away, and that's the constant links between this med and bladder cancer -- a link found yet again as data on 115,727 patients shows that Actos raises the risk of the disease by 83 percent.

Scary? Definitely. But for people who take this drug over the long term, those risks are even higher. They double with just two years of use, and if your cumulative dose ever tops 28,000 mg, that risk shoots up to more than 2.5 times.

That might sound like a lot for a drug that comes in doses of between 15 mg and 45 mg, but it doesn't take long to hit that tragic number.

In fact, 28,000 mg is less than 21 months of the highest daily dose, and a little more than five years on the lowest. Since most people start with the low dose and work their way up, the "real world" time it takes to reach 28,000 mg is probably somewhere in the middle.

Of course, the company will tell you the overall risk is small. But it's not the only serious problem linked to the med.

Actos was supposed to be the go-to drug for diabetics when Avandia was pulled from the market over its heart risks, but one study has shown that Actos may have a similar heart risk of its own.

And that's not all it has in common with Avandia.

Both meds are part of a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones, and a new study finds that people who take any of these meds face a higher risk of a serious eye disease called diabetic macular edema.

That's a condition where fluid leaks into part of the eye and causes it to swell, leading to blurred vision. Roughly 20 percent of diabetics experience it, but the new study finds that those who take thiazolidinediones such as Actos and Avandia have between double and triple the risk of everyone else.

Clearly, diabetes drugs can be as dangerous as the disease itself -- but despite what you've heard, you don't have to commit to a lifetime of dangerous meds or choose the risks of one drug over the risks of another.

Commit to lifestyle changes instead. By working with a holistic doctor, you can reduce your need for these and other meds and eventually eliminate them.