Study examines possible link of insulin and cancer

Recently you may have read or seen on TV stories about the use of Insulin and increase of cancer. These reports arose due to a recently published series of research papers by Diabetologia the medical journal of EASD (European Association for the Study of Diabetes) that examines the possible link of insulin and cancer

First of all the report published by Diabetologia relates to a long acting analogue known as insulin glargine or Lantus insulin which has been in use since 2000. The study from Germany raised some questions about Lantus and the possibility that it might in certain circumstances accelerate the rate of cancer. As such EASD requested other research groups in Sweden, Scotland and England to see if these findings can be reproduced in other independent studies.

However, there is no suggestion that insulin therapy causes cancer. What the researchers have raised is a concern that one particular insulin, glargine or Lantus insulin is associated with a higher incidence of breast cancer. These studies have been criticized for many reasons and are not considered conclusive evidence.

The EASD has already started discussions with sanofi-aventis, the makers of insulin glargine as to how these studies might be conducted. In the meanwhile the EASD and other diabetes associations around the world have advised patients to continue their insulin regime.

People with diabetes do, however, have the option of using long-acting human insulin or a mixture of long- and short-acting human insulin twice a day instead of the once-daily analogue. You may wish to consider this option if you already have a cancer, or, for women, if there is a family history of breast cancer.

You should not make any change in your insulin treatment without consulting your own doctor, and you should on no account stop taking your insulin.

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