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Some Drugs for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis May Cut Diabetes Risk
Date:6/21/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Some medications commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis may help patients with these autoimmune disorders lower their risk of developing diabetes, researchers say.

New research found that a particular class of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine can reduce diabetes risk by 38 percent and 46 percent, respectively, in people with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis.

"If you have rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, you may be at an increased risk of diabetes, and a number of different antirheumatic drugs may reduce your future risk of diabetes," said study author Dr. Daniel Solomon, chief of clinical science in rheumatology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

However, Solomon was quick to point out that this was an observational study, and does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between taking these medications and a reduced risk of diabetes. He said that for people who already have to take these drugs for other conditions, this research shows that there may be an added benefit with taking some of them.

The findings are published in the June 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Using statistics from two large health insurance company databases -- one in Canada and one in the United States -- the researchers reviewed data on people who had either rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. From a group of 121,280, the researchers immediately excluded the 12,996 who already had a diabetes diagnosis.

"These patients are at high risk of type 2 diabetes. This study found that about 10 percent already have it, which is higher than would be expected in the general population," said Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes program at Montefiore Medical Center in N
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