Insulin glargine and risk of cancer: a meta-analysis

Int J Biol Markers. 2012 Oct 8;27(3):e241-6. doi: 10.5301/JBM.2012.9349.


Aims: Recently, more and more attention has been drawn on the long-term effects of insulin glargine. Here we strived to estimate the association of cancer occurrence with the use of insulin glargine.

Methods: We searched all the publications regarding the association between cancer occurrence and the use of insulin glargine using the US National Library of Medicine's PubMed database. Data were independently extracted and analyzed using random or fixed effects meta-analysis depending upon the degree of heterogeneity.

Results: Seven cohort studies were included in the meta-analysis. Cancer occurrence had no significant difference in glargine-treated patients compared to patients treated with other insulins (RR=0.86, 95% CI=0.69-1.07, p=0.17, P(heterogeneity)<0.00001). In our subgroup analysis, glargine, compared to other insulins, did not increase the risk of breast cancer (RR=1.14, 95% CI=0.65-2.02, p=0.65, P(heterogeneity)=0.002), prostate cancer (RR=1.00, 95% CI=0.79-1.26, p=0.99, P(heterogeneity)=0.78), pancreatic cancer (RR=0.57, 95% CI=0.14-2.35, p=0.44, P(heterogeneity)=0.0002) and gastrointestinal cancer (RR=0.80, 95% CI=0.62-1.02, p=0.07, P(heterogeneity)=0.86).

Conclusions: This meta-analysis of open-label studies does not support an increased cancer risk in patients treated with insulin glargine. The result provides confidence for the development of insulin glargine, but needs confirmation by further clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin Glargine
  • Insulin, Long-Acting / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Risk


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin, Long-Acting
  • Insulin Glargine