A long-term study of about 2,000 people in a hospital in Australia has revealed the best way to stop you getting diabetes, the National Health and Medical Research Council said on Monday.
Dr Susan Stokes, a consultant diabetes expert at the National University of Ireland Galway, told the ABC Diabetes Care podcast that for people with type 2 diabetes, insulin is the key treatment option.
“We know that if you take insulin in a steady dose over time, that will lower your risk of developing diabetes,” Dr Stokes said.
“But we don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
Dr Stokes and her team examined the health of a large group of people who had developed type 2 and were on insulin.
They found people with diabetes who took insulin over the course of about 12 months had a lower risk of diabetes in the subsequent 12 months.
Dr Stoke said it was important to take insulin consistently for people who developed type two diabetes.
“The reason is, if you’re taking insulin intermittently, you may actually be increasing the risk of complications from your diabetes,” she said.
She said insulin was also one of the few drugs that was safe to take at low doses.
“What you’re really doing is getting the drugs into the blood stream,” she explained.
“So, that means you’re increasing the amount of sugar in your blood stream, which is associated with insulin resistance.”
She said that could lead to a condition called “hyperinsulinemia” and, if left untreated, could lead people to develop Type 2 diabetes themselves.
“If you’re not doing that and the insulin is not getting into your blood, you’re at higher risk of being at risk of other things,” she added.
Dr James Hughes, an expert in insulin metabolism at the University of New South Wales, said people who took more insulin for longer periods were more likely to develop diabetes over time.
“For example, if your glucose is at an elevated level, you are less likely to get complications from insulin resistance,” he said.”[But] if you’ve been taking insulin for more than 12 months, that increase in risk can be greater.”
Dr Hughes said the long-acting beta blocker, niacinamide, had been shown to be safe in large trials.
“In my view, the safest treatment for diabetes is to take a longer-acting [beta blocker] medication,” he told the podcast.
“Niacin, the long acting beta blocker is the best treatment option.”
Dr James also said there was some evidence that the longer-term use of beta blockers could lead a person to develop the condition type 2.
Dr Hughes noted that the National Institute of Health had been working on research into long-lasting beta blockers for many years, and that it was hoped that one would be available within two years.
Dr George Trenholm, a researcher at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, said there had been some positive results from studies of long-stay beta blockers.
“There is some evidence suggesting that beta blockers can be longer-lasting than insulin in reducing risk of type 2 Diabetes,” Dr Trenhammer told the Australian Diabetes Association podcast.
He said there were some issues with the research, but that there was enough evidence to warrant a longer term trial.
“It is not clear that the use of longer-lived beta blockers has the same safety profile as that of insulin,” he added.
“And so we need to continue to look at this.”