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Inconclusive research links glargine insulin (Lantus) with cancer

Diabetes UK has today cautioned that research claiming there is a link between certain insulins and some cancers is “inconclusive”.

Results of four studies looking at the risk of cancer largely in people with Type 2 diabetes treated with insulin, particularly glargine insulin (Lantus), were published in Diabetologia – the Journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes – last week.

The studies were based in Germany, Sweden, Scotland and the UK. The data of around 300,000 people treated with insulin was reviewed in the studies, of which 34,392 were taking glargine insulin (Lantus) alone.

The German study suggested there may be a small increased risk of cancer in those taking glargine as their only insulin; with the strongest link seeming to be with breast cancer in older people. This small increase in risk appeared in two of the other three studies and seemed to be more so in people on high doses.

Sir Professor George Alberti, Chairman of Diabetes UK, said: “It should be stated firmly that the evidence in these studies is not conclusive and that there are limitations with the research.

“People with diabetes who are using glargine insulin should continue to take their medication as prescribed. You will become very ill if you stop taking your insulin. If you are concerned about these findings then you should speak to your healthcare team about your anxieties before discontinuing any treatment.”

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