Type 2 diabetics taking insulin to control their blood sugar levels may be at greater risk of major cardiovascular events, cancer and death, and those taking higher doses of insulin are at even greater risk, according to new research published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.
Researchers with the Cardiff University School of Medicine in the United Kingdom said the findings add to ongoing concerns about insulin use to treat the chronic disease, adding that more research was needed on the issue.
The study involved 6,484 patients with type 2 diabetes who were using insulin from the year 2000. The patients were studied for an average of 3.3 years. Researchers noted dosages and tracked progression of serious outcomes such as cardiovascular events, cancer and death.
Not only were the insulin users at greater risk for these serious health conditions, those who used 1 to 1.5 units and more than 1.5 units of insulin had a much greater risk of adverse health events compared to patients treated with less than 0.5 units of insulin.
Medications used to treat type 2 diabetes have also been associated with cardiovascular events, cancer and death. For example, Avandia was severely restricted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) following reports of fatal heart attacks. A year later, the FDA warned that Actos had been associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
The latest warnings fall on the newer diabetes drugs Januvia and Byetta, which have been associated with an increased risk of acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.