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06-14-2018 | Pioglitazone | Article

Pioglitazone use and risk of bladder cancer: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis of observational studies

Diabetology International

Authors: Juha Mehtälä, Houssem Khanfir, Dimitri Bennett, Yizhou Ye, Pasi Korhonen, Fabian Hoti

Publisher: Springer Japan



Studies investigating bladder cancer risk in pioglitazone-treated type 2 diabetes mellitus patients report conflicting results. Previous meta-analyses on this topic utilized publications prior to 2013. More long-term observational studies have been published since then. We reviewed the accumulated evidence and updated findings from previous meta-analyses.


This meta-analysis was based on a systematic review of peer-reviewed observational studies published prior to September 30, 2016. Eligible studies were identified using a specified MEDLINE search. References from included studies and from previous meta-analyses were screened for additional records. Meta-analysis hazards ratios were derived using a random-effects model. Several sensitivity analyses including hierarchical Bayesian meta-analysis with country-specific effects were conducted.


Of 363 identified records, 23 studies were included in this review and 18 in the actual meta-analyses. For bladder cancer outcome, the estimated effect size for ever vs. never use of pioglitazone was 1.16 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.04–1.28]. In the cumulative dose and duration analyses, highest effect was observed in the highest/longest exposure group, but substantial heterogeneity was present. In the sensitivity analysis, only studies adjusted for lifestyle-related factors were included and the frequentist effect size was 1.18 (95% CI, 1.00–1.40, p = 0.054). However, the risk was not verified in the Bayesian framework with an effect size of 1.17 [95% credible interval (CrI), 0.94–1.54].


In line with previous meta-analyses, we observed a small but statistically significant association between ever (vs. never) use of pioglitazone and bladder cancer risk; however, causality is not established and alternative explanations cannot be ruled out.

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