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March 9, 2004

Insulin

Question from Spain:

My son was told the other day by a friend's dad that he has to be careful with insulin, as it is dangerous if injected into someone else and it could also cause death. I think he was probably worried for his son, who does not have diabetes. I could not stop laughing and assured my son this was nonsense. Can you please tell me what would happen if NPH or Actrapid was injected into, for example, myself who does not have diabetes?

Answer:

Insulin is among the most dangerous drugs commonly prescribed. However, it is entirely safe, if used according to instructions, and in the doses advised. While a small dose of insulin given to a person without diabetes may cause only a minor lowering of blood glucose, countered by eating and drinking sugar containing food, it would be foolhardy and potentially life threatening to do this outside direct and experienced medical supervision. Sadly, it is not uncommon for body builders to abuse insulin for its muscle building capabilities. There have been several examples of death and serious injury as a result.

KJR