Hypertension: Another Downside of Insulin

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Diabetes, Blood Sugar, Diabetes Complications
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Insulin is bad news. Not only does it actually cause weight gain, but this commonly prescribed hypertension: another downside of insulintherapy has also been linked to high blood pressure.

Taiwanese researchers looked at more than 87,000 patients with type 2 diabetes who were treated with either oral drugs or insulin. They found that patients using insulin had a higher prevalence of hypertension (61.3 versus 53.9 percent)—and the longer they used it, the greater their risk.

This is not surprising when you consider insulin’s activities beyond nutrient storage. Injected insulin increases sodium retention and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. It induces oxidative stress, leading to free-radical damage that impairs the function of the endothelial cells lining the arteries. It also has growth factor–like activity that thickens blood vessels and increases risk of atherosclerosis.

Since people with diabetes are already at dramatically increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, the last thing they need is a treatment that amplifies this risk.

Before accepting your doctor’s order to begin taking insulin (or to up your dose), talk to him or her about non-drug options. Diet, exercise, and targeted nutritional supplements can safely and effectively lower blood sugar and protect against diabetic complications.

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