Drug-induced diabetes

Baillieres Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1992 Oct;6(4):849-66. doi: 10.1016/s0950-351x(05)80170-3.


The only drugs which commonly cause diabetes during therapeutic use are the anti-hypertensive vasodilator diazoxide, and corticosteroids in high doses such as those used to palliate intracranial tumours. Thiazide diuretics have in the past been used in higher doses than necessary to treat hypertension, and the lower doses now used probably carry only a slight risk of inducing diabetes. The risk from beta-blockers is also quite small, but there is some evidence that thiazides combined with beta-blockers may be more likely to cause diabetes than either drug alone. The combination is probably best avoided in patients with a family history of non-insulin-dependent diabetes. The effect of the low-oestrogen combined oral contraceptive pill seems to be slight, and it presents a risk only to women who have had gestational diabetes. Bodybuilders who take enormous doses of anabolic-androgens can develop impaired glucose tolerance. Several drugs, including theophylline, aspirin, isoniazid and nalidixic acid can cause transient hyperglycaemia in overdosage, but only streptozotocin, alloxan and the rodenticide Vacor are likely to cause permanent diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus / chemically induced*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Antagonists
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / drug effects


  • Insulin
  • Insulin Antagonists