Scientists in the U.K. have found evidence to link type 2 diabetes with anti-depressants, but there’s still no proof of causality. One theory suggests that weight gain caused by the drugs can lead to increased risk for the disease. It is also possible that the medication inhibits the ability to control blood sugar levels. The BBC reports on the research carried out by a team of academics at the University of Southampton:

Their analysis of 22 studies involving thousands of patients on anti-depressants could not single out any class of drug or type of person as high risk.

Prof Richard Holt and colleagues say more research is needed to investigate what factors lie behind the findings.

And they say doctors should keep a closer check for early warning signs of diabetes in patients who have been prescribed these drugs…,

Prof Holt said: “Some of this may be coincidence but there’s a signal that people who are being treated with anti-depressants then have an increased risk of going on to develop diabetes.

“We need to think about screening and look at means to reduce that risk.”

…Dr Matthew Hobbs of Diabetes UK, said: “These findings fall short of being strong evidence that taking anti-depressants directly increases risk of type 2 diabetes. In this review, even the studies that did suggest a link showed only a small effect and just because two things tend to occur together, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one is causing the other.

“But what is clear is that some anti-depressants lead to weight gain and that putting on weight increases risk of type 2 diabetes….”

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 8.3 percent of American children and adults have diabetes and in 2007, the disease contributed to 231,404 deaths. A survey that looked at anti-depressant consumption in Americans older than 12 between 2005 and 2008 showed that 11 percent of the nation was taking these drugs. If there is indeed a correlation between anti-depressants and diabetes, it is certainly something both doctors and patients should take into consideration during this era of general over-prescription.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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