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Postgrad Med. 2016 Aug;128(6):609-19. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2016.1191955. Epub 2016 Jun 3.

Obviating much of the need for insulin therapy in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A re-assessment of insulin therapy's safety profile.

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a Main Line Health System , Wynnewood , PA , USA.
b University of Pennsylvania , Philadelphia , PA , USA.
c The Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Care , Hollywood , FL , USA.
d University of Miami Miller School of Medicine , Miami , FL , USA.
e Montclair State University , Montclair , NJ , USA.


Current processes of care for diabetes mellitus (DM) were shaped during the era when insulin therapy was considered inexorable to the management of advanced stage type 2 (T2DM), though this no longer appears to be categorically true. There are also dashed hopes that insulin therapy can prevent or stall diabetes. While exogenous insulin remains a life-sparing tool for fully insulin-dependent DM, insulin therapy-induced hyperinsulinemia now appears to contribute to serious safety issues beyond hypoglycemia and weight gain. Iatrogenic and compensatory hyperinsulinemia are metabolic disruptors of β-cells, liver, muscle, kidney, brain, heart and vasculature, inflammation, and lipid homeostasis, among other systems. This may compromise β-cells, exacerbate insulin resistance (IR), and increase risk of cardiovascular (CV) disease. Striking associations between exogenous insulin and risks of CV events, cancer, and all-cause mortality in clinical trial and real-world cohorts caution that insulin may pose more harm than previously evidenced. At our disposal are numerous alternate tools that, alone or in combination, efficaciously manage hyperglycemia and glucolipotoxicity, and do so without inducing hypoglycemia, weight gain, or hyperinsulinemia. Moreover, these new tools support true precision therapy, as modern day drug classes can be aligned with the various mediating pathways of hyperglycemia at work in any given patient. Some also appear to promote β-cell survival, with intriguing data being presented for newer agents, such as incretins. As such, we encourage preferential use of non-insulin antidiabetic agents to injected insulin for the management of non-insulin-dependent patients with T2DM, including in advanced stage T2DM. The goal of this article is to augment existing literature to 1) correct misconceptions on the rationale and necessity for insulin therapy in T2DM, 2) discuss emerging negative safety data with insulin therapy, and, 3) offer a practical means to reduce reliance on insulin through delayed initiation, minimized dose, and, drug switching to safer agents, and, potentially, reframes processes of care.


egregious eleven; incretins; reduced insulin; β-cell-centric model

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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