Researchers at Cardiff University analysed UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) data to examine the risk of death for type 2 patients taking insulin compared with those on other glucose-lowering therapies .
The team found that the insulin-using patients had a higher risk of individual diabetes complications such as heart attack, stroke and eye problems compared with those treated with alternative anti-hyperglycemic treatments.
"Insulin treatment remains the most longstanding blood glucose-lowering therapies for people with type 2 diabetes, with its use growing markedly in recent years," said lead author Professor Craig Currie, from Cardiff University's School of Medicine .
"By reviewing data from CPRD between 1999 and 2011 we've confirmed there are increased health risks for patients with type 2 diabetes who take insulin to manage their condition.
"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."
Prof Currie stressed that type 2 diabetics currently being treated with insulin "should not, under any circumstances, stop taking their medications", adding that "anyone who is concerned should speak to their GP first before taking any action on managing their condition".
The findings are published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism .