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December 7, 2003

Other Medications, Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Bethesda, Maryland, USA:

My niece at the age of 16 developed type 1 diabetes after being prescribed Accutane. As others have also written, there was no prior history of diabetes in our family. My questions are: Is there any central organization what would keep track of similar cases - i.e., can we report our case to any groups that might eventually to research on this? How can we push for research to be done on this?


Because Type 1A or Autoimmune Diabetes and acne that is severe enough to justify treatment with Accutane are both frequent enough so that they occasionally occur together does not mean that this is cause and effect. If anything Vitamin A as an important antioxidant might delay the onset of this form of diabetes. At all events the possibility that Accutane is a factor in causing Type 1 diabetes has already been widely evaluated (see a previous question) and no link has been found so far. In your niece’s case I think it is possible that the stress of acne, especially in a girl, may not only have justified treatment with Accutane; but have been a non specific trigger that hastened the onset of insulin dependance in someone in whom autoimmune damage to the islet cells was already long established.