New research suggests people with type 2 diabetes taking increased insulin dosages could be at a heightened risk of death.
Thousands of NHS records were analysed by researchers from Cardiff University, with data on 6,484 patients with type 2 diabetes taken from the UK Clinical Practise Research Datalink.
Type 2 diabetes data
On average, the patients were aged 64 when the study began in 2000. They were then followed for an average of three years after their first exposure to insulin.
The patients were examined retrospectively, with researchers calculating insulin doses per day based on their previously prescribed insulin quantities and patients’ weight.
The results from the study were reported in four patients groups, which were defined by the amount of insulin they received. This ranged from below 0.5 units per kg per day up to doses exceeding 1.5 units.
Insulin findings
1,110 patient deaths were recorded from the 6,484 type 2 diabetes patients, with Professor Currie, Principal Investigator, from Cardiff University School of Medicine, reporting patients receiving doses of over one unit upwards had an increased risk of death.
“An estimated 15% of patients taking a dose of between 1 and 1.5 units (per kg per day) had a 40% increased risk of death compared with the under-0.5 unit group, and the 5% of patients receiving more than 1.5 units had a 75% increased risk of death when compared with the same group,” Currie said.
Currie, however, did urge caution when interpreting these results, adding: “It’s plausible that patients on higher doses of insulin had pre-existing illnesses before they started on insulin, which could account for the spike in instances of death and cancer.”
The researchers noted a prospective randomised controlled trial would be needed to investigate how these patterns were caused.

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