It has not yet been determined whether chronic exposure to relatively low doses of pioglitazone increases risk of bladder cancer. We aimed to assess the risk of bladder cancer associated with pioglitazone in Korean patients. This was a retrospective cohort study of diabetic patients who had >2 clinic visits between November 2005 and June 2011 at one of four tertiary referral hospitals in Korea. A prevalent case-control analysis nested within the cohort was conducted to further adjust confounders. A total of 101,953 control patients and 11,240 pioglitazone-treated patients were included, in which there were 237 and 30 cases of incidental bladder cancer (64.9 and 54.9 per 100,000 person-years; age, sex-adjusted HR 1.135, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.769-1.677), respectively. In the prevalent case-control analysis nested within the cohort, use of pioglitazone for a duration of >6 months, but not ever use of pioglitazone, was associated with an increased rate of bladder cancer as compared to never use of pioglitazone. In conclusion, we failed to exclude the possible association between use of pioglitazone for a duration of >6 months and bladder cancer.
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