Do Arthritis Drugs Cause Cancer?

arthritis drugsThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating whether four drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other immune system diseases might increase the risk of cancer in children.

The FDA has received reports of 30 cases of cancer among children and young adults treated with the drugs. The agency did not make clear how many children had taken the drugs.

The drugs involved are:

1. Enbrel, sold by Amgen and Wyeth
2. Remicade, sold by Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough
3. Humira, sold by Abbott Laboratories
4. Cimzia, sold by the Belgian company UCB

All of the drugs block a protein called tumor necrosis factor, and are therefore known as TNF-blockers. They are used to treat not only rheumatoid arthritis but also psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and other immune diseases.

Because the drugs block part of the immune system, it’s long been known that they might contribute to a higher risk of cancers and infections. The drugs’ labels contain warnings as such, including warning about a risk of lymphomas, which are cancers of immune system cells.

Among adults, meanwhile, one study found that those given Humira or Remicade to treat rheumatoid arthritis had 2.4 times the cancer rate of those in control groups.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Rheumatoid arthritis can be a devastating disease during which your body starts destroying itself, but there’s no need to wait for the FDA to investigate this one. Most arthritis drugs are simply far too dangerous to use. Studies had already linked Humira and Remicade, for instance, to: Lymphoma Tuberculosis Pneumonia Skin, gastrointestinal, breast and lung tumors This was among adults, but the risks may be even more concerning among children, considering that the drugs suppress your immune system, and children’s immune systems are not yet mature. It’s sad, though, because if you visit a rheumatologist most of them will prescribe these drugs right off the bat, as though they are the only option. And though they may help to ease your pain, they’re doing it at what expense? Cancer down the road? Tuberculosis? A lung tumor? These are astronomical risks! Not to mention that these drugs are expensive. The cost of using Remicade for one year is about $12,000. No, I did not put an extra zero in there. This explains why Remicade, Humira and Enbrel had combined sales of more than $13 billion in 2007. If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis, You do Have a Choice Drugs are NOT the only option, and this is something that most doctors won’t tell you. You have the choice to forgo arthritis drugs and their nasty side effects in favor of some lifestyle modifications. The following plan, which is based on my revision of Dr. Brown’s Antibiotic Protocol, has helped thousands of people with rheumatoid arthritis go into remission. I have treated over 3,000 patients with this protocol since the late '80s and the success rate is well over 80%. It really is amazing how powerful the healing potential of your body is once you address causal factors and provide it with the essential healing tools and resources. The protocol involves: 1. Improving your diet using a combination of my nutritional guidelines and nutritional typing. 2. Getting plenty of omega-3 fats by taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 supplement, like krill oil. 3. Getting your vitamin D levels checked and, if necessary, taking a supplement if you can't get daily sun exposure. This is absolutely crucial and, in my opinion, gross medical negligence and malpractice if it is not performed on nearly every RA patient as nearly all RA patients have low vitamin D levels 4. Having an effective method of addressing the nearly universal underlying emotional distresses that are present in most all autoimmune diseases like RA. 5. Incorporating regular exercise into your daily schedule. If your joints are painful, gentle exercises like yoga and Tai Chi are recommended. You may also want to have a consultation with an exercise professional so no permanent joint damage is done as a result of joint deformities. What About Psoriasis and Crohn’s Disease? Many people are also given arthritis drugs to treat these conditions, but these are two more examples of conditions that can be remedied without taking drugs that increase your risk of cancer. About 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, a skin disorder that causes scaly red patches. Carolyn Dean has written about some great natural methods to heal psoriasis, among them: Increasing your intake of omega-3 fats Dealing with stress in a healthy way Eliminating sugar and refined and processed foods from your diet I would add to that getting plenty of sun exposure to make sure your vitamin D levels stay where they need to be. As for curing Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), naturally, the recommendations are much in the same: Increase your intake of animal-based omega-3 fats, while decreasing your intake of omega-6 fats (found largely in vegetable oils) Avoid sugar, as it will increase inflammation by increasing your insulin levels. Avoid grains until RA symptoms are under control. Many with inflammatory bowel disease have gluten sensitivities. Additionally, the grains tend to increase insulin levels in most. Make sure your vitamin D levels are optimized. Get plenty of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) --which will help to heal your intestinal tract -- in your diet. Try cultured raw milk kefir for this purpose, or you can also consider a high-quality probiotic supplement. Whatever you do, don’t let anyone suggest to you that drugs are the only way to handle immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis. You can get relief from your symptoms while healing the underlying causes by following the health principles I outlined above.
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