11 March 2008

Insulin-restricting may be deadly

Taking less insulin than required to control type 1 diabetes can cut a woman's lifespan by more than a decade, according to new research.

Taking less insulin than required to control type 1 diabetes can cut a woman's lifespan by more than a decade, according to research conducted at the Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston.

Fear of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and concern about gaining weight may lead patients with type 1 diabetes to restrict necessary insulin doses, Dr Katie Weinger and colleagues note in a report in the journal Diabetes Care.

In their 11-year follow-up study of 234 type 1 diabetic women, those who restricted their insulin intake had an increased risk of death as well as higher rates of kidney and foot problems relative to women who did not restrict their insulin dose.

In addition, the average age of death was younger for those involved in insulin restriction: 45 years of age as compared to 58 years for those who did not restrict.

At the start of the study, 71 women (30 percent) had been classified as insulin restrictors, based on a positive response to the screening item "I take less insulin than I should."

Death risk increase threefold
Twenty-six women died during follow-up, including 10 insulin restrictors. Insulin restriction increased the relative risk of death more than threefold after adjusting for other factors.

Insulin-restricting women who died reported more frequent insulin restriction and reported more eating disorder symptoms at the study's outset than those insulin-restrictors who were still living at study's end. Studies have shown that women with diabetes are nearly 2.5 times more likely than women without diabetes to develop an eating disorder.

Weinger and colleagues think doctors should ask their patients with type 1 diabetes if they take less insulin than they are supposed to, and refer high-risk patients to mental health professionals. - (Reuters Health)

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, March 2008.

Read more:
What is type 1 diabetes?
Diabetes Centre

March 2008


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Diabetes expert

Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules