Cohort study of pioglitazone and cancer incidence in patients with diabetes

Assiamira Ferrara, James D. Lewis, Charles P. Quesenberry, Tiffany Peng, Brian L. Strom, Stephen K. Van Den Eeden, Samantha F. Ehrlich, Laurel A. Habel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE - To explore whether treatment with pioglitazone was associated with risk of incident cancer at the 10 most common sites (prostate, female breast, lung/bronchus, endometrial, colon, non-Hodgkin lymphoma [NHL], pancreas, kidney/renal pelvis, rectal, and melanoma). RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - A cohort study of 252,467 patients aged ≥40 years from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Diabetes Registry was conducted. All prescriptions for diabetes medications were identified by pharmacy records. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the association between risk of incident cancer and ever use, duration, dose, and time since initiation of pioglitazone (modeled as time-dependent variables). RESULTS - In models adjusted for age, sex, year of cohort entry, race/ethnicity, income, smoking, glycemic control, diabetes duration, creatinine levels, congestive heart failure, and use of other diabetes medications, the hazard ratio (HR) for each cancer associated with ever use of pioglitazone ranged from0.7 to 1.3, with all 95%CIs including 1.0. Therewas a suggestion of an increased risk of melanoma (HR 1.3 [95% CI 0.9-2.0]) and NHL (1.3 [1.0-1.8]) and a decreased risk of kidney/renal pelvis cancers (0.7 [0.4-1.1]) associated with ever use of pioglitazone. These associations were unaltered with increasing dose, duration, or time since first use. CONCLUSIONS - We found no clear evidence of an association between use of pioglitazone and risk of the incident cancers examined. Because the maximum duration of follow-up was fewer than 6 years after the initiation of pioglitazone, longer-term studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-929
Number of pages7
JournalDiabetes care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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