The safety of diabetes medications has been a concern since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings about cancer and heart attacks associated with the type 2 diabetes drugs Actos and Avandia. For decades, people have wondered if the use of another diabetes medication – insulin – made diabetics more susceptible to cardiovascular disease and cancer. But, a new study offers some peace of mind, indicating long-term, daily injections of insulin do not appear to increase the risk for heart attacks, strokes, or cancer in people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
The new international study, led by Canadian researchers, involved more than 12,500 people in 40 countries who were at high risk for, or in the early stages of, type 2 diabetes. Participants were randomly selected to take either one daily injection of the long-acting insulin glargine or given no insulin for an average of six weeks.
Researchers found that there was no difference in cardiovascular problems or cancer in either group. They also found that people with pre-diabetes who received daily insulin shots were 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes even after the insulin injections were discontinued.
The study also confirmed that insulin does carry the potential for low blood sugar and minor weight gain. Among the more than 6,000 participants in the study, those taking insulin shots gained an average of 3.5 pounds over the six-month study period. One death due to hypoglycemia was also reported.
The study focused only on patients with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes and did not include patients with type 1 diabetes, most of whom take different doses and forms of insulin to control blood sugar levels.
Source: CBC News