TOO TOXIC to swallow: Up to a third of diabetics don’t take their pills because of the debilitating side effects

According to a group of researchers, at least a third of diabetics do not take their medication due to fear of possible side effects.

Diabetics in the U.K. are often prescribed metformin, the most commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes. While there is no definite data on how many of the 3.4 million people in the U.K. with type 2 diabetes are given the drug, a whopping 19 million people in England alone are prescribed metformin annually.

An affordable drug (a single pill costs as little as £1), metformin “help diabetics control their condition by reducing the levels of sugar produced by the liver.” While many diabetics are fine with taking the medication, researchers from University of Surrey reported that at least 30 percent of prescribed doses are not taken.

The scientists posit that this is due to the side effects of metformin. For diabetes drugs like Gliclazide and Pioglitazone, 23 percent and 20 percent of patients, respectively, do not take the prescribed doses. Some diabetics report that metformin often causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and flatulence.

Dr. Andy McGovern, a researcher whose team observed 1.6 million people with type 2 diabetes, said, “The importance of diabetes patients taking their prescribed medication cannot be underestimated… A failure to do so can lead to complications in their condition including eye disease and kidney damage.”

McGovern cautioned that while this issue of not taking their medication has long been observed among patients, the results of the research suggest that not all medication classes agree with diabetics. He added that instead of simply refusing to take the drugs prescribed to them, patients must discuss the possible side effects or any difficulties they have with the scheduled medication with a healthcare professional. (Related: Top 6 Fruits for Diabetics.)

Side effects of breast cancer drug tamoxifen

It looks like diabetics aren’t the only ones struggling with the side effects of their medication.

Jacquie Beltrao, a Sky News star, reported that tamoxifen, a breast cancer drug, is a two-edged sword. While the drug “saved her life,” it also caused side effects like “scorching hot flushes, low moods, and aching bones.”

Women normally go through menopause in at least five years. But pre-menopausal women diagnosed with a common type of breast cancer might have to take tamoxifen. Their version of menopause, called “tamoxipause,” only goes on for about five months.

The drug causes a medical menopause that can begin overnight and include “brutal” symptoms. Beltrao describes the hot flush as “being plunged fully clothed into a sauna.”

She also shared that she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in Christmas 2013. Beltrao had a mastectomy and five rounds of chemotherapy, which was followed by a prescription for tamoxifen.

Tamoxifen is prescribed to pre-menopausal women with “estrogen-receptor positive” tumors that involve at least 85 percent of breast cancers. For this kind of tumor, the cancer is “encouraged to grow and divide” with a hormone called estrogen. Tamoxifen works by blocking the effects of estrogen on the receptors to prevent any breast cancer cells from developing.

Beltrao shared that women like her must take tamoxifen for at around five years, but other younger women are told that they must take it for at least 10 years. This greatly reduces the risk of a relapse by 40 percent.

Natural remedies for diabetes

Taking medication means you are allowing chemicals to flood your body, which can have adverse side effects. If you are worried about taking medication for diabetes, consider these herbs with blood sugar lowering properties:

You can learn more about superfoods and other natural cures at


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