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Possible Cancer Risk with Lantus Insulin Use

By July 1, 2009

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The FDA has issued an advisory stating that four recently-published observational studies have shown an increase in cancer risk for people with diabetes who use Lantus insulin (insulin glargine).

According to a press release from the FDA, "The four observational studies evaluated large patient databases and all reported some level of association between the use of insulin glargine, and other insulin products, and various types of cancer. The duration of patient follow-up in all four studies was shorter than what is generally considered necessary to evaluate for cancer risk from drug exposure."

There were also some inconsistencies in the studies which may indicate that a link between Lantus and cancer risk is weak to nonexistent.

The FDA is in the process of looking at these studies as well as other clinical trials to try to get a better picture of whether the increased risk of cancer does exist. The manufacturer of Lantus is working with the FDA to determine whether additional studies are required to establish the safety of Lantus.

As of right now, the FDA is recommending that people do not stop taking Lantus if it has been prescribed for them. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause serious complications both short and long term. Contact your doctor if you have any concerns about Lantus.

July 2, 2009 at 2:52 pm
(1) LA Wolfe says:

This is terrible news! (I have to go read the advisory now). Lantus is the next best thing to insulin pumping. First our asthma inhalers are taken away from us because they “pollute” the air and now Lantus insulin?

Some days I REALLY hate this horrible disease more than others. Today is one of them.

July 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm
(2) LA Wolfe says:

Two points from this study – first: “The results of this small, single-dose study showed that chromium picolinate had no significant effect on insulin sensitivity, or other key features of metabolic syndrome.”

The study was based on low-dose and short-term use. Even prescribed medications (i.e., metformin) can take months to begin working and doses must be adjusted on an individual basis. Let’s assume for the sake of arguments their study did show no improvement in insulin sensitivity, but it does still help regulate blood sugars – which are directly impacted by insulin resistance.

Two: “…However, chromium picolinate (cp) did appear to increase the early phase of insulin secretion in response to glucose.”

I am not sure I understand this. Are they saying that it actually increased insulin production?

Multiple studies (done on a larger scale) have proven otherwise:

“Thirteen of 15 clinical studies (including 11 randomized, controlled studies) involving a total of 1,690 subjects (1,505 in CrPic group) reported significant improvement in at least one outcome of glycemic control. All 15 studies showed salutary effects in at least one parameter of diabetes management, including dyslipidemia.” Diabetes Technol Ther. 2006 Dec;8(6):677-87

Additional studies have shown CP as a promising adjunct therapy for depression, weight loss, and improvement in carbohydrate metabolism in pre-diabetes and women with PCOS as well.

Thanks for sharing this study. I do not think it is convincing, but it is always good to see diabetes (and pre-diabetes) getting attention!

July 2, 2009 at 4:30 pm
(3) Pam O says:

I hope it isn’t true and pulled. It is the first drug that has helped me and I cn put up with a once a day shot. I use to have high 200-300 BS in AM Now I have 90-100 when I wake with night time snacks.

Cancer can be a Concern, but more studies are needed, as complications of HBS can be devistating also

Thanks for the update

July 2, 2009 at 4:57 pm
(4) Sean says:

I think it is intersting that people are offering their opinions on the findings of these studies as fact. Rather than carry the water for Lantus, we should look at what the studies are actually suggesting. The studies dont conclude that Lantus causes cancer they just draw a correlation betweeen Lantus dose and cancer. These studies suggest that further studies are needed. To tell people what the FDA thinks of the data is a little premature. I doubt the FDA has had time to look at the data close enough to make a truely informed statement. The FDA is offering a “there is nothing to worry about” statement. I believe this is neglegent and suspect. Rather than misrepresent the data and attack the findings, the FDA and all medical providers should be saying that this question needs to be studied further. Stop acting like this correlation is important until we know more. You come off like a pharma spokesperson..how do we know you arent?

July 2, 2009 at 6:01 pm
(5) john raguso says:

I’m sure the Pharmaceutical industry is working on a substitute for Lantus that works the same way. They never really stop working on new things

July 2, 2009 at 6:15 pm
(6) Ruth lord says:

Called my doctor as I am on Lantus. “They haven’t (doctors) made up their minds as of yet”. Sure makes us feel safe!

July 2, 2009 at 9:33 pm
(7) Jim says:

Thanks for the uncertain info about Lantus.
Sometimes silence is golden

July 2, 2009 at 9:34 pm
(8) Forest Stratman says:

As a diabetic, It seems like every week a new study comes out that a drug we use to control our levels puts us in risk for something perhaps even worse. More research MUST be used in the fight of diabetes, otherwise we may just as well stop feeding the Corporate industry’s pockets and see that our local funeral director eats well instead. After all, one is a friend of mine as it is.

July 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm
(9) Deb Manzella RN says:

It’s really frustrating to have to report the findings to these small studies. The results are usually inconclusive, due to the fact that the trials involve small amounts of people and often don’t take into consideration family health histories and other health factors of their participants.

As the guide for the diabetes site, I’m sometimes torn about whether I should even bother reporting the results of some of these studies… this one included. I feel that the media latches onto these studies and creates mass hysteria that results in people being afraid to take their meds. On the other hand, if I don’t report it, people won’t have full information about the medicines they take.

I agree with you, Jim, that silence is golden, but there are people who would like to know about everything involved with their medications.

The hard part is trying to walk the line between responsible reporting and sensationalism.

What are others thoughts on these small, often uncertain studies?

Should I report them to you or should I not report them?

I’m interested in your opinions.

Deb Manzella RN

July 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm
(10) greenSearcher says:

Do post these advisories, since we don’t have to read them. It like to be aware of what the FDA is looking at so I don’t get blindsided by their actions. I would be more concerned by the reports if all the national insurance data bases showed an increase in cancer. What is different for the German diabetics in their lifestyle or treatment regime that has that database showing such a high difference? That’s the $64 question. I rather like my Lantus, it allows me to maintain an A1C at or around 6.0 w/o the lows of a fast acting insulin (I tend towards asymptomatic lows and falling out isn’t good for us). So it is wait and see.

July 9, 2009 at 1:27 pm
(11) Joe Kierl says:

Well, my radar is switched on. Besides fast acting Novolog 3 times a day, I take a 100ml dose of Lantus twice a day. And that’s besides two 1000mg of Metformin a day. Besides 13 other prescribed meds, it really puts my antidepressants to work. I feel like chucking the whole lot and let the Good Lord sort it out.

July 9, 2009 at 2:44 pm
(12) Dawn says:

Since I am type II, I have cut back from 16 units to now 10 units a day… added additional exercise and just don’t eat white bread, white flour, white rice, or white pasta…. and my blood sugar is now still very stable. I plan to cut back further on the insulin. All of these medications really scare me. Anything natural that works such as a little bit more walking and cutting out certain things is worth it!

July 10, 2009 at 12:34 am
(13) Rock Woman says:

Bummer! I have been on Lantus for a few years now, was diagnosed with breast cancer 14 months ago. I AM a survivor, but this is really getting tiring, trying to figure out which meds cause which side effects and are they really worth it all? Diabetic for over 40 years, diagnosed as Type 1, Type 2, Type 1 1/2, have been told I am a “genetic defect”..does it never end? Lost my dad to diabetes at the age of 48, my brother a few years ago at the age of 54, VERY excited this spring to say “55 and still alive!”

I would prefer natural products to meds and “shooting up”, can’t seem to find a happy medium. What to do next?

July 19, 2009 at 11:11 pm
(14) Susan from St. Pete says:

Hi, Rock Woman. I too just turned 55 and have had T=type I for 45 years. I have had far fewer reactions since being on lantus, but now plan to switch to the safest insulin, whatever that might be. I have never had good control, with an a1c of 12. Really want to be cured of this affliction. In the meantime, what to do, what to do…I have no guidance from an enodocrinologist. This town sorely lacks a knowledgeable endo…

August 21, 2009 at 7:05 pm
(15) JP Marat says:

The German study included 127,000 diabetics divided into those using similar doses of Lantus and human insulin. Not only did the study find a statistically significant increased risk of cancer in the Lantus-using group, but it found that this risk went up with increasing doses of Lantus. Thus people taking 10 IU/day had a 9% increase in cancer, while those taking 50 IU/day had a 31% increase. This very strongly indicates that Lantus is causing the problem and not some extraneous variable. There have now been 7 different studies on the link between Lantus and cancer, and 6 of them have confirmed that using Lantus increases the cancer risk.

Since patients can easily switch to an alternative treatment with NPH insulin, which has a similar, long-term action and which has a long record of safety, why would anyone stay with Lantus? The statements from various organizations urging patients to stick with Lantus and to ignore the studies showing it to be carcinogenic are motivated by financial concerns of the pharmaceutical industry.

November 2, 2009 at 5:29 pm
(16) Billiamson says:

I wouldn’t ever compare NPH with lantus… it’s like not even in the same league. Nph only last 12 hours with a huge peak halfway through. Lantus is continuous for 24 hours and doesn’t peak. How are they even similar?

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