The investigators then looked for those who had a prescription for at least one of the medications used for these conditions, and found that 13,905 were taking at least one of these drugs. The researchers further divided the group into four subgroups: those taking TNF inhibitors with or without other DMARDs; people taking methotrexate without a TNF inhibitor or hydroxychloroquine; hydroxychloroquine without TNF inhibitors or methotrexate; or other DMARDs without TNF inhibitors, methotrexate or hydroxychloroquine.
The study found that the rate of diabetes diagnoses over 12 years was 19.7 per 1,000 person-years for TNF inhibitors, 22.2 for hydroxychloroquine, 23.8 for methotrexate and 50.2 for other DMARDs. Compared to the other DMARDs, this translates to a reduced risk of 38 percent for TNF inhibitors, 23 percent for methotrexate and 46 percent for hydroxychloroquine.
Solomon said in an adjusted analysis, hydroxychloroquine and TNF inhibitors were the two types of drugs that appeared to make a significant difference in diabetes risk. These drugs are sold under brand names such as Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) and Enbrel, Humira and Remicade (TNF inhibitors).
Solomon said the reason these drugs might be protective isn't known, but the researchers suspect they reduce inflammation, which reduces insulin resistance and diabetes.
"Careful treatment of inflammatory conditions may reduce your future risk of diabetes," Solomon added.
"In a population with a very high incidence of diabetes, some medications may prevent or slow down the process of type 2 diabetes," said Zonszein.
Both experts added that these medications may have significant side effects. In addition, they can be expensive.
"The question is always, 'Is it worth giving these drugs?' You may prevent diabetes, but in doing so, will you create other problems?" said Solomon, who added that the information from this study might be helpful in select
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