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Monday 24th October 2016

Early insulin helps diabetics

23rd May 2008

New research shows that early insulin injections in the early stages of type 2 diabetes may delay the progression of the disease.


Researchers in China followed the progress of 380 people with a recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, and found that those who were given an initial course of insulin injections were better off a year later than those who were given diabetes drugs orally.

The trial, published in The Lancet, also managed both groups of patients with a standard diet and exercise regime, suggesting that early injections of the hormone, which diabetics have trouble producing, was beneficial when other factors were unchanged.

Experts say the approach may a a useful one for some patients. A second study of diabetic patients also found that taking part in diet and exercise programmes for six years can prevent or delay diabetes for up to 14 years.

A team led by diabetes researcher Weng Jianping gave either an infusion of insulin, daily insulin injections or oral anti-diabetic tablets to groups of patients aged 25 to 70.

After patients' blood sugar levels reached a normal range, treatment was maintained for just two weeks, and patients were introduced to a diet and exercise programme designed to maintain good blood sugar control.

It took an average of nine days for those given oral medication to reach normal blood glucose levels, while those given insulin achieved them in 4-5 days, according to the researchers.

A year later, 51% of patients given an insulin infusion and 45% of those given insulin injections had maintained good blood glucose levels, compared with only 27% of those who were given oral drugs to start with.

The researchers said the early insulin treatment appeared to have restored the function of insulin-producing beta cells in the body.

Normal management of diabetes includes making lifestyle changes, with medication if necessary. But previous research has also backed up the findings of the Chinese study.

Diabetes experts said that decisions about treatment needed to be made on an individual basis for each patient, and called for more information about different types of diabetes control before a change in practice was made.


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