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Originally published February 16 2009

Aggressive Use of Diabetes Drugs Kills More People Than it Helps

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Aggressive use of drugs to radically lower blood sugar in hospitalized diabetics is no longer widely recommended as it was just a few years ago, with more and more researchers arguing that such treatments may actually end up killing more people than they save.

In 2001, a clinical trial concluded that critically ill diabetes patients undergoing surgery were 33 percent less likely to die in the hospital if their blood sugar levels were aggressively controlled. That single study led a number of health organizations to start recommending aggressive blood sugar management for all hospitalized diabetics.

That consensus radically changed this year, when two similar studies on the issue came up with wildly different results.

An Australian study called Advance seemed to back up the original 2001 study, finding that aggressively treated hospitalized diabetics had 20 percent lower risk of developing kidney disease, and no increased risk of mortality. The North American Accord study, however, observed such an alarmingly elevated rate in death among participants that it had to be halted early.

The Accord study was conducted on Type 2 diabetics with a high risk of heart conditions.

In order to shed more light on the controversial topic, researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt., reviewed the data from 29 prior studies on the issue, involving a total of 8,432 patients. They found that while the rates of death were fairly similar between those who received more conventional hospital treatment and those who underwent aggressive blood sugar control, those in the latter group had five times the risk of hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a common and potentially dangerous side effect of diabetes treatment.

The researchers concluded that it would be irresponsible to continue recommending aggressive diabetes treatment, considering the potential risks.

"Given the overall findings of this meta-analysis, it seems appropriate that the guidelines recommending tight glucose control in all critically ill patients should be re-evaluated until the results of larger, more definitive clinical trials are available," they wrote.

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