Insulin Analogues and Cancer – A Possible Link That Needs Further Investigation

Insulin Analogues and Cancer – A Possible Link That Needs Further Investigation

This is the title of a patient information sheet issued by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD] on June 26th, 2009.

As regular visitors to our website are already aware, there have been concerns for some time that the long-term safety of insulin analogues is unknown and insulin analogues have a greater potential for cell multiplication, with a possible increased risk of cancer due to their greater similarity to insulin-like growth factor 1 [IGF-1] . The EASD has investigated these concerns for Lantus [glargine] and published several studies looking at groups of people who are using insulin to treat their diabetes – people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Levemir [detemir] was introduced more recently and Professor Gale, Editor of Diabetolgia the journal in which the studies have been published, states: "We have yet to examine this in the same way as Lantus."

The EASD recognise the limitations of these studies but the authors state in their press release: "We believe that people are entitled to know that the use of Lantus insulin might be associated with greater risk, but this must also be balanced against the possibility that we might be causing unnecessary alarm by raising these concerns."

As a result, the EASD has issued a press release and also issued an information sheet for patients.
Press release:
Patient Information sheet:
Further information and details of the EASD studies are available at:

Other studies of interest on this topic include:

Insulin analogues display IGF-1-like mitogenic and anti-apoptotic activities in cultured cancer cells.
Diabetes Metab Res Rev 2009; 25; 41-49

Insulin analogues: fears, facts and fantasies.
Diabetes Metab Res Rev 2009; 25; 50-51

Novel insulin analogues and its mitogenic potential.
Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 8, 2006, 611-620

IDDT reminds everyone that it is very important not to stop taking your insulin. If you have concerns about the analogue insulins or wish to consider changing your insulin, then there are alternatives so you do have a choice and you should discuss this with your doctor.