Study: Insulin, Other Diabetes Medications May Do More Harm Than Good As Patients Get Older

shutterstock_166231574A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Health System, the University College London, and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System indicates that insulin shots and other diabetic drugs may have a negative impact among type 2 diabetes patients, especially those over the age of 50. The researchers say that the negative side effects can overwhelm the benefits that these diabetes drugs over time. The findings appear in the current issue of Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.

According to Sandeep Vijan M.D., M.S., professor of Internal Medicine at the U-M Medical School and research scientist at the Center for Clinical Management Research at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the lead author of the said study, “For people with type 2 diabetes, the goal of managing blood sugar levels is to prevent associated diabetes complications, such as kidney, eye and heart disease, but it is essential to balance complication risks and treatment burdens when deciding how aggressively to treat blood sugars.”

“If you’re a patient with fairly low complication risks, but are experiencing symptoms from low blood sugar, gaining weight or find frequent insulin shots to be disruptive to your daily life, then the drugs are doing more harm than good. Prescribing medicine isn’t just about reducing risks of complications, but also about helping patients improve their quality of life,” Vijan further added.

Researchers noted that once patients undergoing diabetes treatment reach moderate glucose control levels, there is little additional benefit offered by intensive treatment of blood sugar levels. Instead, the risks of side effects increase substantially. The study also discovered that the benefits of the treatments tend to decline as the patients become older. By the time diabetic patients reach the age of 75, the negative effects of the diabetic treatments start to outweigh the benefits. The study excludes the 15 to 20 percent of patients with very high blood sugar levels that actually require a more aggressive blood sugar control treatments.

Source: University of Michigan Health System. (2014, June 30). Insulin, other drugs may do more harm than good for some type 2 diabetes patients, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 3, 2014 from


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