Some type 2 diabetics who take insulin run a risk of developing serious health complications including heart attack, stroke, cancer, and eye problems, a new British study has found.
The study, by a team of researchers from Cardiff University's School of Medicine, examined the risk of death for type 2 patients taking insulin compared with other drugs that lower blood-sugar levels. The findings showed people on insulin have greater risk of individual complications than those treated with alternative glucose-lowering meds.
"Insulin treatment remains [among] the most longstanding blood-glucose-lowering therapies for people with type 2 diabetes, with its use growing markedly in recent years," said Craig Currie, a Cardiff researcher who led the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
"However, with new diabetes therapies and treatments emerging there has been a new spotlight on treatments to ensure what the best and safest form of diabetes treatment is.”
To reach their conclusions, Currie and colleagues examined medical charts of nearly 85,000 British patients, recorded between 1999 and 2011.
Their findings add to previous studies that have identified potential health risks of insulin to type 2 diabetics. Canadian researchers recently reported the insulin may result in a threefold increase in the risk of death in type 2 diabetics.
Currie stressed that patients taking insulin should consult their doctors before deciding to stop their medication.
"Patients currently being treated with insulin should not, under any circumstances, stop taking their medications, and it is important to emphasize that this report related to only type 2 diabetes, which typically starts in older people who are overweight,” he said. "Each patient's individual circumstances are different and treatment decisions are managed by their clinician with all of their medical history fully considered.
"The vast majority of people who take insulin will experience no adverse effects and it remains a reliable and common form of treatment worldwide but this study shows that we need to investigate this matter urgently and the drug regulatory authorities should take interest in this issue.”
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