Insulin and the HOMA-IR marks for disease risk and your healthy life: High insulin results in central obesity and high blood pressure. There is a strong link to heart attack and stroke with high insulin.[i] There is a strong link between elevated fasting insulin and breast cancer,[ii] melanoma,[iii] and colon cancer risk.[iv] I could list more nondiabetic conditions associated with high insulin, but I have to stop somewhere, and this list already includes the top five causes of death in the U.S. I am stunned that health-care providers do not run a fasting insulin test routinely, and I am further convinced that it’s time for you to get in the driver’s seat of your own health and prevention and run these tests!
Insulin has so many mechanisms to raise heart disease risk, cancer risk, and trigger inflammation.
Insulin induces sodium retention at the kidney, causing excess fluid retention, which worsens inflammation and raises blood pressure.[v] Insulin, as you know, raises the TG, but it also decreases the size of the LDL particle, to a size more associated with atherosclerosis formation.[vi] Insulin raises the levels of uric acid, causing high blood pressure and the condition called gout. Insulin can affect other hormones, as seen in the condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), where women experience hormonal imbalance associated with high insulin.
High insulin is the driving force behind fat deposits in the liver, called benign hepatic steatosis. The word benign is a bit of a misnomer; while this cause of fatty liver is not a precursor to liver cancer or hepatitis, it is a recipe for heart disease.[vii] Statistically, over 70 percent of adults with fatty liver are obese, but there are lean individuals with excess fat deposits “inside” their body.[viii] [ix]
Longevity is associated with people who have lower insulin levels and a low HOMA-IR that reflects insulin sensitivity.[x] This compelling research brings into question one of the greatest mistakes of pharmaceutical-based medical care: the treatment of type 2 diabetes with drugs that actually raise insulin.
SO WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
Simple, assure your fasting insulin is tested. If your doctor does not order it – find a direct lab and get it done. Here is a link I have used for inexpensive lab tests through a prepaid discount direct lab service.
With the results in hand, use tools to understand your insulin – glucose – lipid panel and other results as laid out in The Blood Code: Unlock the secrets of your metabolism. I wrote the book to help you find the metabolism that leads you away from cancer and heart disease and allows you to find the body, health and longevity you deserve.
[i] Lakka, H., et al. Hyperinsulinemia and the risk of cardiovascular death and acute coronary and cerebrovascular events in men. Arch Intern Med. 2000; 160(8):1160–68.
[ii] Gunter, M., et al. Insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I, and risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Jan 7; 101(1):48–60.
[iii] Antoniadis, A. G., et al. Insulin resistance in relation to melanoma risk. Melanoma Res., vol. 21(6). 2011 Dec; 541–46.
[iv] Giovannucci, E. Metabolic syndrome, hyperinsulinemia, and colon cancer: A review. Am J Clin Nutr, vol. 86, no. 3, 2007 Sept; 836–42.
[v] Rocchin, A. P., et al. Insulin and renal sodium retention in obese adolescents. Hypertension. 1989; 14:367–74.
[vi] Festa, A., et al. LDL particle size in relation to insulin, proinsulin, and insulin sensitivity. The Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study. Diabetes Care. 1999 Oct; 22(10):1688–93.
[vii] Targher, G., et al. Risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. N Engl J Med. 2010 Sep 30; 363(14):1341–50.
[viii] Tock, L. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease decrease in obese adolescents after multidisciplinary therapy, European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, vol. 18, no. 12, 2006; 1241–45.
[ix] Machado, M., Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, vol. 17, no. 8, 2005; 823–26.
[x] Masternak, M., et al. Insulin sensitivity as a key mediator of growth hormone actions on longevity. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2009 May; 64A(5): 516–21.