Victoza: Don't Swallow This for Diabetes - Even If a Celebrity Chef, Paula Deen, Hawks It
January 30, 2012
By Dr. Mercola
Paula Deen's rise to fame is built on scrumptious high-sugar, highly processed foods with a distinct Southern flare.
Her latest show, "Paula's Best Dishes," is a hit on the Food Network, and she also has several popular cook books to her name.
While no doubt tasty, the meals Ms. Deen promotes can easily lead to weight gain and diabetes, so her recent admission on the Today Show that she's been living with type 2 diabetes for the past three years did not come as a great shock.
Her decision to become the spokesperson for a dangerous diabetes drug however, did, and has raised the ire of many.
In fact, if her plan was to become a role model of healthy living, it has backfired in a dramatic way, as most people are suddenly (and wisely!) shunning the notion that you can just pop a pill to address a diet-related health problem.
As stated in Time Magazine:
"There is something slightly unsavory about the fact that Deen has continued to advocate the type of unhealthy, fattening foods that contribute to obesity and, therefore, to Type 2 diabetes, only to step forward now as the pitchperson for a drug that is designed to treat that disease, which she herself has had in secret for years."
Is a Drug Really the Answer to Type 2 Diabetes?
Many are questioning Ms. Deen's decision to keep quiet about her diagnosis for so long, while continuing to promote her signature high-sugar meals. According to Time Magazine:
"Deen said that she decided not to make her diagnosis public until she could "bring something to the table when I came forward. I've always been one to think that I bring hope." For her, that hope apparently comes in the form of Victoza, a diabetes medication made by Novo Nordisk.
Deen is now the spokeswoman for the drug. Deen and her sons, Jamie and Bobby, have also partnered with the drugmaker to promote the new Diabetes in a New Light program, which provides food tips and stress-management techniques as well as medical interventions for controlling diabetes. "I was determined to share my positive approach and not let diabetes stand in the way of enjoying my life," Deen said in a statement about the launch of Diabetes in a New Light."
Clearly, Ms. Deen did not spend the last few years investigating the underlying causes of diabetes. If she had done so, she would have discovered that you cannot successfully cure type 2 diabetes with drugs and/or insulin.
Because type 2 diabetes arises from faulty leptin signaling and insulin resistance. It is therefore a fully preventable condition that can be controlled or reversed by recovering your insulin and leptin sensitivities. However, the only known way to reestablish proper leptin and insulin signaling is through a proper diet and exercise. There is NO drug that can accomplish this – a fact that makes the current disease paradigm even more tragic, as diabetes continues to skyrocket, and the conventional treatments are needlessly killing diabetics prematurely.
In Ms. Deen's case, her drug of choice, Victoza, is a non-insulin diabetes medication that has some very disturbing potential side effects, including cancer! It's certainly not something I would perceive as a "positive approach"...
It is important to know that there is NO pill to cure or even control diabetes that addresses the fundamental issue, insulin resistance. Most of them tend to lower blood sugar, which is why they are called oral hypoglycemics. The problem with most physicians is that they believe high blood sugar is the problem. However, the real problem is insulin resistance, which these drugs do not address in any way.
Victoza—A Potentially Dangerous Option for Diabetics...
According to the prescribing information for Victoza (Liraglutide), there are a number of important warnings you need to be aware of, including a black box warning—the strongest warning issued by FDA—which states that:
"Liraglutide causes thyroid C-cell tumors at clinically relevant exposures in rodents. It is unknown whether Victoza® causes thyroid C-cell tumors, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), in humans, as human relevance could not be determined by clinical or nonclinical studies."
Furthermore, the web site for Victoza includes the following important warnings:
"It is not known whether Victoza® causes thyroid tumors or a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) in people which may be fatal if not detected and treated early. Do not use Victoza® if you or any of your family members have a history of MTC or if you have Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2). While taking Victoza®, tell your doctor if you get a lump or swelling in your neck, hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or shortness of breath. These may be symptoms of thyroid cancer.
Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) may be severe and lead to death. Before taking Victoza®, tell your doctor if you have had pancreatitis, gallstones, a history of alcoholism, or high blood triglyceride levels since these medical conditions make you more likely to get pancreatitis. Stop taking Victoza® and call your doctor right away if you have pain in your stomach area that is severe and will not go away, occurs with or without vomiting, or is felt going from your stomach area through to your back. These may be symptoms of pancreatitis."
Ads for the drug feature a smiling Deen with the caption, "Live a life that's delicious." But just how "delicious" will life be if you end up getting cancer? Other common side effects associated with the drug include:
The Diabetes Drug that Probably Should Not Be On the Market...
As discussed by Tom Philpott, writing for Mother Jones, Victoza has only been on the market for two years, gaining FDA approval in January 2010, but the drug barely made it through due to the strong link to thyroid cancer.
"In April 2009, the FDA's Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 12-1 that rodent data linking the drug to thyroid cancer could apply to humans. The committee got hung at 6-6 (with one abstention) on whether the cancer risk was ground for FDA rejection. The drug eventually won approval anyway," Philpott writes.
Furthermore, Philpott reveals that, in 2010, Novo Nordisk was publicly reprimanded for breaching no less than seven clauses of the British ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry with regards to its promotions of Victoza:
- Clause 2 - Bringing discredit upon and reducing confidence in the pharmaceutical industry.
- Clause 3.1 - Promoting a medicine prior to the grant of its marketing authorization.
- Clause 7.2 - Making misleading claims.
- Clause 7.3 - Using misleading comparisons.
- Clause 7.9 - Failing to provide information about side-effects and reflect available evidence.
- Clause 9.1 - Failing to maintain high standards.
- Clause 12.1 - Disguising promotional material.
Would You Risk Cancer for No Benefit at All?
Yes... there's actually compelling evidence that drugs designed to reduce your blood sugar do not provide you with ANY kind of health benefit, and may in fact be far more dangerous than the disease itself. For example, a recent meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials involving more than 33,000 people showed that this kind of treatment is not only ineffective, it's also dangerous. In fact, the review showed that treatment with glucose-lowering drugs actually increase your risk of death from heart-related ailments, and all other causes. The researchers noted that:
"The overall results of this meta-analysis do not show a benefit of intensive glucose lowering treatment on all cause mortality or cardiovascular death. A 19% increase in all cause mortality and a 43% increase in cardiovascular mortality cannot be excluded."
Nortin Hadler, a University of North Carolina professor of medicine is another vocal critic of diabetes drugs. In a 2008 paper published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, he declared such drugs "useless," because lowering your blood-sugar levels does not provide any tangible benefits. Dr. Ron Rosedale has also discussed this for many years now.
To top it all off, the drug hawked by Deen costs a whopping $500 per month! Yes you read that right; FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS a month, or about $17 a day.
Lessons Learned from Avandia: Diabetes Drugs Can be Deadly
Avandia (rosiglitazone) is the poster child for what is wrong with the drug treatment of type 2 diabetes. After hitting the market in 1999, a 2007 study in the New England Journal of Medicine linked it to a 43 percent increased risk of heart attack, and a 64 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death, compared to patients treated with other methods!
It took nearly 10 years of the drug being on the market for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action and restrict access to this dangerous drug. The European Medicines Agency banned it altogether. Meanwhile, millions of people have taken Avandia and have been exposed to these unacceptably high-risk side effects, for a drug that in no way treats the underlying causes of diabetes. More than 80,000 diabetics have suffered from strokes, heart failure or other complications including lethal heart attacks from this dangerous drug.
Again, the only thing drugs like Avandia do is to help lower blood glucose, which has virtually no influence on the long-term damage due to type 2 diabetes. Most of the damage is caused by elevated insulin levels, which can be remedied with an optimal diet and exercise program alone, if you're compliant.
Other studies have also confirmed that most drugs given to type 2 diabetics are at best worthless and at worst harmful or even deadly. Last year the New England Journal of Medicine featured not one, not two, but FOUR studies backing up the conclusion that the path of conventional medicine is leading diabetics astray, and doing far more harm than good.
You Don't have to Be a Statistic...
Amazingly, one in four Americans have some form of diabetes or pre-diabetes. If this is not a clear sign that conventional health recommendations are flawed, I don't know what is.
I too have personal experience with this disease. I developed it myself at one time, and most of my paternal relatives (my dad included), have, or have died from, diabetes. My personal experience with diabetes and subsequent review of the literature made it VERY clear to me that virtually every case of type 2 diabetes is reversible... And the cure for type 2 diabetes has NOTHING to do with giving insulin or taking drugs to control your blood sugar. In fact, giving insulin to someone with type 2 diabetes is one of the worst things that can be done. Any physician still doing this suffers from profound ignorance of insulin physiology.
It's important to understand that many of the conventional recommendations for treating diabetes are not only flawed but dead wrong, and I discussed the reasons why in this previous article. If you need a refresher, please review it again. Once you understand that type 2 diabetes is a fully preventable condition that arises from faulty leptin signaling and insulin resistance, the remedy will become clear. To reverse the disease, you need to recover your body's insulin and leptin sensitivities!
How do you do that?
As mentioned earlier, the ONLY way to accomplish this is through proper diet and exercise. There is NO drug that can correct leptin signaling and insulin resistance... Adhering to the following guidelines can help you do at least three things that are essential for successfully treating diabetes: recover your insulin/leptin sensitivity; help normalize your weight; and normalize your blood pressure:
- Severely limit or eliminate sugar and grains in your diet, especially fructose which is far more detrimental than any other type of sugar. Following my Nutrition Plan will help you do this without too much fuss.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is an absolutely essential factor, and without it, you're unlikely to get this devastating disease under control. It is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to lower your insulin and leptin resistance. If you're unsure of how to get started, I recommend reviewing my exercise program for tips and guidelines. It is also critical to work your way up to include some Peak 8 exercises.
- Avoid trans fats.
- Get plenty of omega-3 fats from a high quality, animal-based source.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels. Recent studies have revealed that getting enough vitamin D can have a powerful effect on normalizing your blood pressure and that low vitamin D levels may increase your risk of heart disease.
- Optimize your gut flora. Your gut is a living ecosystem, full of both good bacteria and bad. Multiple studies have shown that obese people have different intestinal bacteria than lean people. The more good bacteria you have, the stronger your immune system will be and the better your body will function overall. Fortunately, optimizing your gut flora is relatively easy. You can reseed your body with good bacteria by eating fermented foods (like natto, raw organic cheese, miso, and fermented vegetables) or by taking a high quality probiotic supplement.
- Address any underlying emotional issues and/or stress. Non-invasive tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique/Meridian Tapping Technique can be extremely helpful and effective.
- Get enough high-quality sleep every night.
- Monitor your fasting insulin level. This is every bit as important as your fasting blood sugar. You'll want your fasting insulin level to be between 2 and 4. The higher your level, the worse your insulin sensitivity is.