Tight Blood Sugar Control Won’t Help Prevent Diabetic Complications

| September 20, 2016

Two years ago, I opened a blog post on The Real Diabetes Truth here with the words “Diabetes isn’t just about blood sugar control”. That is still my fervent view, even though tight control of blood sugar levels, through the use of prescription drugs, is the mainstay of conventional treatment. For instance, the latest guidelines from NICE (the UK body that sets health care standards) lay down target blood sugar levels for adults with type 2 diabetes, which you can read here.

Although, to be fair, NICE tells doctors to “adopt an individualised approach to diabetes care”, getting blood sugar down to those target levels is likely to be the focus of treatment for most people with type 2 diabetes. It’s an approach that is widely accepted in the medical community as reducing the risk of diabetic complications. But does it really benefit patients, or simply line the pockets of the drugs companies?

That was a question that researchers at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in the USA recently asked. They reviewed all of the statements made in the last ten years about the value of tight blood sugar control in helping to prevent diabetic complications. Then they compared them with the evidence from real patient records spanning two decades.1

Their findings showed that the official dogma on the benefits of tight blood sugar control simply didn’t hold up. Compared with more relaxed treatment approaches, tight control of blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients appeared to do absolutely nothing to reduce all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, stroke, amputations, blindness, kidney disease or nerve damage. The only statistical benefit appeared to be a 15 per cent reduction in the risk of a non-fatal heart attack.

This minimal benefit has to be weighed against the potential damage that aggressive blood sugar-lowering drugs could do. As well as potentially raising the risk of hospitalisation for a serious low blood sugar episode (hypoglycaemia), they may also put you at increased risk of heart failure, acute pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and many other serious health problems, as I have explained in earlier posts on The Real Diabetes Truth.

There is a better way. In my next blog post I’ll review some of the potentially most effective non-drug strategies for avoiding diabetic complications in people with type 2 diabetes.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


1. Rodríguez-Gutiérrez R, Montori VM. Glycemic control for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: our evolving faith in the face of evidence. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2016 Aug 23 (Online ahead of print).

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Category: Diabetes, Diabetes Risks

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