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The number of people living with diabetes keeps growing. It is estimated that over 23 million people, or 7.8% of the US population, has diabetes. That is a staggering number.

If you or a loved one have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, then no doubt you are full of questions. You are asking yourself and others: What comes next? How do we treat this? What do we do? And probably also asking, what caused this? How did this happen?

Your first priority should be to get proper medical attention and care. Find a doctor who truly understands the disease and its complications and will counsel you through the ups and downs, and ins and outs of living with diabetes. Your healthcare provider will be your best resource for information.

However, what your doctor may not tell you is that medications you have taken may be the cause of your diabetes. It is well known that some medications will raise blood sugar levels and, therefore, present a risk for the development of diabetes. This risk is known to physicians who warn their patients of the risk and monitor their patients accordingly. However, some drugs cause diabetes without the doctor’s knowledge.

The drug manufacturers may know that their drugs cause diabetes, or raise blood sugar levels increasing the risk for developing diabetes, but they do not warn doctors or consumers. There are several drugs on the market right now that pose a risk for diabetes: Zyprexa, Chantix and Seroquel, to name a few. In 2004, the FDA caused manufacturer Eli Lilly to warn of the risk of diabetes associated with the use of Zyprexa. Patients who developed diabetes after taking Zyprexa have won lawsuits against Eli Lilly and several states have sought reimbursement from the company for additional expenses paid out by state Medicare and Medicaid programs to treat the cases of diabetes caused by Zyprexa.

A big concern of mine right now is the number of people who may be at risk for developing diabetes because of the new smoking cessation pill, Chantix. While I encourage anyone to stop smoking and this pill certainly showed promise when it first promoted, I do not believe that Chantix is the answer because it poses too much risk for complications. Chantix has been associated with seizures, heart problems, and now, diabetes. Manufacturer Pfizer has warned that Chantix may interfere with other diabetes medications like insulin, but we are starting to see new onset diabetes being diagnosed in people who have used Chantix. The FDA has received over 500 such reports, but Pfizer has not added any additional warnings to the Chantix label.

Never take any medication without consulting your doctor, and never stop taking any prescribed medication without consulting your doctor. That being said, if you are currently taking Chantix, then I encourage you to talk to your doctor about the adverse effects being associated with use of the pill. And if you want to quit smoking, then I highly encourage you to do so, but please: Just Say No To Chantix!

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