Claim

Insulin injection more than doubles the risk of death in type 2 diabetes.

Verdict

False

Scientific studies do not support the claim that insulin injections increase the risk of death in people with diabetes.

Origin

Websites such as greenmedinfo.com claim that a clinical research study ‘clearly’ shows that insulin injections increase the risk of death in people with type 2 diabetes. The study in question was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and came from UK-based researchers (1).

The researchers analyzed data from a longitudinal anonymized research database from almost 600 primary care practices. The result of the study identified 105,123 relevant glucose lowering regimens for 84,622 people.

Patients treated with insulin monotherapy had a higher baseline HbA1c, which is a marker of blood glucose levels over time. The higher the baseline HbA1c, the poorer the overall sugar control. Patients treated with insulin monotherapy had a statistically significantly higher rate of death as compared to patients receiving other glucose lowering treatments such as metformin or sulphonylurea.

There are two major problems with this study. Firstly, the people who received insulin monotherapy had the poorest baseline sugar control which automatically places them at a higher rate of death. Secondly, the study shows an association between insulin therapy and death and not actual causation. This means that people on insulin were more likely to die as compared to people on other glucose lowering treatments. It does not prove causation or mean that insulin monotherapy is directly responsible for increased death.

In summary, there is no scientific proof of a causal relationship between insulin monotherapy and mortality in people with type 2 diabetes.

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