One common and persistent diabetes “myth” is that insulin causes diabetes complications—heart attacks, stroke and even cancer. While there has never been any evidence to support this thinking, a new study from McMaster University debunks the notion while, at the same time, showing the benefits of insulin therapy in a prediabetes treatment strategy.
The ORIGIN (Outcome Reduction with an Initial Glargine Intervention) study looked at the effects of long term insulin glargine (long acting insulin—Lantus) use among more than 12,500 people at 537 sites in 40 countries with an average age of 64, who are at high risk for, or in the early stages of type 2 diabetes. The participants were randomly divided into a group receiving “standard care” and a group receiving one daily injection of the long acting basal insulin.
After six years there were no differences between the groups with regards to heart disease or cancer, but those with prediabetes in the insulin group showed a 28% reduction in progressing to type 2 diabetes compared to the “standard care” group. Known side effects of insulin therapy, hypoglycemia and modest weight gain, were acknowledged. Most of the participants in the insulin group maintained a fasting blood glucose levels below 6.0 mmol/l (108 mg/dl).
This study should resolve the misplaced resistance to insulin therapy among patients who are aware of this unfounded myth regarding complications, and demonstrates the benefits of basal insulin even for people with prediabetes.