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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51814. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051814. Epub 2012 Dec 19.

Insulin glargine and cancer risk in patients with diabetes: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Endocrinology, the First Hospital of Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu, China.



The role of insulin glargine as a risk factor for cancer is controversial in human studies. The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the relationship between insulin glargine and cancer incidence.


All observational studies and randomized controlled trials evaluating the relationship of insulin glargine and cancer risk were identified in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Library and the Chinese Biomedical Medical Literature Database, through March 2012. Odds ratios (ORs) with corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated with a random-effects model. Confidence in the estimates of the obtained effects (quality of evidence) was assessed by using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach.


A total of 11 studies including 448,928 study subjects and 19,128 cancer patients were finally identified for the meta-analysis. Insulin glargine use was associated with a lower odds of cancer compared with non-glargine insulin use (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.98, P = 0.03; very low-quality evidence). Glargine did not increase the odds of breast cancer (OR 0.99, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.46, P = 0.966; very low-quality evidence). Compared with non-glargine insulin, no significant association was found between insulin glargine and prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and respiratory tract cancer. Insulin glargine use was associated with lower odds of other site-specific cancer.


Results from the meta-analysis don't support the link between insulin glargine and an increased risk of cancer and the confidence in the estimates of the effects is very low. Further studies are needed to examine the relation between insulin glargine and cancer risk, especially breast cancer.

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