Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Link Between Lantus Insulin And Cancer

The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD)'s journal, Diabetologia, has four papers and an Editorial in press, addressing a possible link between insulin glargine (Lantus insulin) and cancer.

You can access their studies and press release here.

From their press release:
"The concerns about a possible link between use of Lantus insulin and increased cancer risk were raised by a German study of around 127,000 insulin-treated patients in an insurance database. The research identified a statistically significant link between patients who had used Lantus insulin and those who had been diagnosed with cancer. Compared with people using similar doses of human insulin, out of every 100 people who used Lantus insulin over an average of about one-and-a-half years, one additional person was diagnosed with cancer. Of particular note in this study was the finding that the increased risk of cancer was dose-dependent. Thus for patients given a dose of 10U, Lantus insulin alone increased the risk of cancer by 9% compared with human insulin; but for a dose of 50U, the increased risk was 31%."
Additional studies were carried in Sweden, Scotland, and the UK:
  • The Swedish study found that compared with patients on insulins other than Lantus insulin, patients on lantus insulin alone had double the risk of breast cancer.
  • The Scottish study found a non-significant increased risk for breast cancer specifically.
  • The UK study found no link between insulin glargine and cancer.
The studies are observation and not conclusive. More research is needed. The EASD is advising patients not to stop taking Lantus insulin without contacting their healthcare provider. Alternatives may be available.