Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that reduces blood sugar, which...

Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that reduces blood sugar, which rises after you've eaten a meal or a snack. Credit: iStock

Dear Pharmacist: I am now up to 14 medications for the following problems:  High cholesterol, heart disease, pre-diabetes, cataracts, arrhythmias, allergies, memory problems and enlarged prostate (BPH).  The medications make me sick and sleepy.  I need some fresh perspective. — C.P.  Kansas City, Kansas

Fresh perspective is my middle name.  You take a lot of medicine for many conditions, which makes me wonder why they call it the “golden” years. 

In the note you sent me, it appears that no one has measured your serum insulin! Chronically elevated insulin hormone has also been associated with Parkinson’s disease, nerve pain, and autoimmune diseases like lupus and cancer.  Yes, cancer!  Breast cancer and pancreatic cancer are connected to high insulin.  And according to an August 2009 study published in The Journal of The National Cancer Institute — elevated insulin. 

You should ask your doctor to measure this for you. There are many well designed, clinical trials published in respected journals that show an association to high insulin and the very disorders that you have. 

Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that reduces blood sugar (which rises after you eat a meal). All physicians know to measure your blood glucose, but many do not bother with insulin. You should measure both glucose and insulin. The ratio of glucose to insulin is more valuable than the level of either one alone.  Just because your blood glucose is normal  does not mean that everything is hunky dory. The ratio of glucose to insulin should be less than 10:1.

The following information is hard to find, unless you have my Diabetes Without Drugs book. If you don’t, I’ll tell you now: A person’s insulin  levels may be sky high because the pancreas is working on overdrive to push the blood sugar into the cell.  Remember, insulin puts sugar into the cell, so if you have a lot of sugar in your system, then your insulin can be very high  for many years while your blood sugar remains normal.  This is a dangerous place to be because you're being told that you do not have diabetes (and I’m saying you might). The insulin can be high because the pancreas is pumping it out all day long to push the sugar into the cell. Good time to tell you that insulin makes a person fat! The higher your insulin, the more weight gain.  So as a side note, if you are dealing with stubborn weight that refuses to come off, you may have high insulin.

Some people are perfect when a fasting blood glucose test is performed, but when they eat, their insulin goes haywire. You wouldn’t see this on a fasting blood sugar test so a post prandial blood glucose test is important too. I’ve expanded this column to include the proper ranges for all your labs, as well as supplements that lower blood sugar. If you’d like to read this, just sign up for my free newsletter at my website, upper right hand corner.

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