This is not the first time there has been a study (or two) indicating a possible connection between an analog insulin and cancer. The question is, as with any study, is it true? How do we, as layman, determine if the study(ies) were manipulated in any one direction? If the hypothesis is true, how do we determine if the group of patients studied includes us?
This particular study published in Diabetologia was conducted on 127,031 patients with diabetes. The study was conducted from data accumulated in an insurance database. According to the press release, “the research identified a statistically significant link between patients who had used Lantus insulin and those who had been diagnosed with cancer.”
Of particular note according to Endocrine Today is the fact that there were “several important differences in baseline characteristics between the treatment groups. The insulin glargine group was older (68 vs. 41 years), more overweight and hypertensive and more likely to be on oral antidiabetic therapies and have a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes (97% vs. 37%) compared with the insulin glargine plus other insulins group. Of note, differences in cancer risk may be attributed to the different between-group baseline characteristics rather than the treatment itself, according to Gale and Smith.”
There was, of course, concern that patients would stop taking Lantus. For the record Lantus users, as an overall concept (of stop taking insulin out of fear) bad idea. I stopped taking Lantus several years ago because I do not like the product and found a better solution. However, I did it with great research, thought, testing, and effort. I did not just stop taking insulin.
In fact, one of the solutions according to the articles, was my original solution … go back to legacy insulin products (humulin). Well, geniuses, I would love to! Anyone willing to put Lente and UltraLente back on the market? Eli Lilly are you listening? It is cheaper and obviously known to pose no cancer risks. I know how to use the products individually and in tandem. I achieved the same 5.1 A1C with Lente that I do with Levemir at ¼ the cost to me and the insurance company. (I realize the articles meant NPH (N) by the way but that doesn’t cut it – just ask Dr. Bernstein why NPH isn’t the best solution. Regular (R) is a good product I still use but not for long acting purposes.)
I still have to take 3 small shots a day with Levemir that I did with Lente. Lantus was worse (than Levemir or Lente) since there were bigger peaks and gaps that had to be filled with “gap fillers” to get 24 hour coverage. Overlapping long acting insulin or OD’ing on it to force 24-hour coverage is not on my top ten list. I know and can do better now. Hmm … feels better too.
In the “old days,” I used one shot of Lente and one shot of Ultra Lente to get 24-hour coverage but I could better afford to do that at $30 per bottle with an insulin that didn’t have an ineffectiveness time bomb after just 30 days post opening.
I promised Dr. Hudson I would not inflict fear in patients. She is concerned about the quality of this study data and that reluctant insulin users might just stop taking Lantus. So, please people, do not stop taking your insulin. Do, however, use the links provided and do some research. Speak to your doctor. Ask questions. Follow the research. Do good due diligence before making any changes. It’s your body; it’s your diabetes; it’s your life. You don't get a redo!
Doris J. Dickson