Accutane causes insulin resistance and may lead to diabetes for some individuals.

More complications with Accutane. Researchers at Helsinki University in Finland discovered that Accutane causes insulin resistance and worsening of blood sugar controls.

CONCLUSION: Treatment of acne with 13-cis-retinoic acid reduces insulin sensitivity and induces alterations in lipid metabolism resembling those of the insulin resistance syndrome.

Dyslipidemia and a reversible decrease in insulin sensitivity induced by therapy with 13-cis-retinoic acid.

Here’s another study.

13-cis-Retinoic acid therapy induces insulin resistance, regulates inflammatory parameters, and paradoxically increases serum adiponectin concentration.

According to the studies Accutane induced insulin resistance is temporary and disappears after the treatment.

However this is not always the case and some unlucky people go on to develop a full-blown diabetes.

Here are two alarming stories from Accutane and diabetes forum.

I started taking Accutane at age 13. The blood tests were going good. You are supposed to get a blood test after every month. And You are on it for 8 months. And you get a last bllod test after you are off it after four weeks to make sure it is out of your system. So there are 9 blood tests total. On my 6th blood test my blood sugar was 132. It was a little high. Then on my 7th blood test it was 287. They wanted me to see a doctor right away so my mom pulled me out of school and brought me to a doctor, where I got another blood test. And my blood sugar was 430. So my doctor told me I had type 1 diabetes. No one in my family had diabetes that I know of except for my great uncle, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 77. So im pretty sure the drug triggered it.

- Jason

My daughter started Accutane 34 days ago with perfect sugar levels. After her first month on Accutane, we went to the Dtr and were told everything was fine but that she had higher than expected cholestrol, everything else was normal per the lab. Not to worry about the cholestrol. My daughter noted to the dtr that she was thirsty, but since the labs normals, dtr told us everything ok, increased the Accutane, gave her a cholestrol medication. Understand that this was one of the top dermatologist in our state who assured us all was fine.

She started the increased dose three days later. Two days from start of new dosage she is weak and is very thirsty. Visit to the ER, she had a sugar level of over 600 and diagnosed her with Type 1 diabetes.. they are telling us there is no connection and that it is genetic. In less than a week she went from normal to life threatening with no other changes in her life but the drug… she is not overweight and is 15.

- Susan

Coincidence? Possibly and we can’t establish a firm link between Accutane and diabetes. However Google search of ‘Accutane diabetes’ reveals an alarming number of such coincidences. Diabetes is also mentioned as a risk factor for Accutane in drug manuals.

Though these incidences are rare type 1 diabetes (the one that most people got) is a permanent complication. Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed when the pancreas stops producing insulin. After that you have to inject insulin after every meal. Type 1 diabetes is a permanent condition with no known cure.

Just one more reason to avoid Accutane and stick to natural methods – especially since they are cheaper and often even work faster than Accutane.

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Posted by Seppo, filed under Accutane. Date: September 1, 2009, 9:42 am | 14 Comments »

14 Responses

  1. Veso M Says:

    Yea, its pretty sad how taking care of something (that might not even work) can deliver you much worse condition than you’ve had.

    I remember that such drug triggered my acne at first place. Talk about irony.

    People get really tempted to take a pill and leave the rest to it. Well, no pain no gain. Emotions are powerful drive.

  2. Amy Says:

    My daughter took Accutane and luckily she did not develop Type 1 diabetes, but I can attest to the insulin resistance because she developed PCOS and is not over weight and developed other medical issues. We have sought many alternative treatments since the Accutane to deal with the leftover side effects.

  3. Duane Says:

    Am I missing something?
    Hasn’t anyone logically considered that acne sufferers consume too much sugar,fruit and starchy allergenic carbohydrates and the accutane connection is not the cause but the wrong diet is?
    Keep drinking those OJ smoothies folks and organic muffins… then take accutane out of desperation and then blame accutane for diabetes or hypoglycemia….

  4. Seppo Says:


    Yes, you are missing something. Insulin resistance developed during Accutane treatment.

    These people were eating muffins without any problems before Accutane.

    Now I do agree with you that certain eating habits are not good for people (and that would include Dr. Atkins diet also), but in this case it’s easy to say Accutane is the culprit.

  5. Jamie Says:

    Hey Seppo,

    I agree that accutane is the culprit to many of these linked side effects, and can cause abnormal bodily functions, due to the fact that users are insanely overdosing with the drug (which is part of the treatment) and its just plain obvious that the body is not going to be the same, certainly whilst under the accutane treatment, and possibly after, depending on many factors, and I would say diet is possibly the biggest one.

    I think like many other of todays products, accutane should at least have a minimum an age limit of some sort, as it can’t possibly good to put youngsters on a course of this stuff, I read of an eleven year old who was taking a course!?

    Just out of curiosity, did you personally go through an accutan course, or any of the other “main stream” pills and treatments, before choosing a diet routine?

    Thanks for your information and support


  6. Seppo Says:


    While diet is important I’m starting to believe that emotional health and dealing with unresolved emotional issues and painful/traumatic memories is more important even to physical health and anything you do physically.

    Yes, I’ve been through Accutane and several antibiotics. Don’t remember the names anymore, but been through quite a few. Needless to say that their effect was limited at best.

  7. Jamie Says:

    Yes, that is also true, as I have seen and heard of people, some even on your forum, who say that they follow strict diets, they don’t drink alcohol, they don’t do this, they always do that etc… yet they are still not able to solve their problem, and end up confused and even worse than before.

    Then they decide hell with it, they do what they want, when they want, and suddenly relise that hey, I feel better, and my acne is also not as bad, whats going on?

    Well in my opinion, most of those people, are people that just get some information, believe it, follow it, and even if it’s horrible to them, they keep doing it because they were told it was correct, so believe it must be no matter what. When instead, they should be personalising things to suit them, keep hold of the good bits and move on from the ones that don’t, and eventually have a plan to meet their personal needs, which can always be changed and improved if necessary.

    It can help, and is always being proved by simular stories every day, just don’t over complicate things.

    @ Seppo, How was your accutane journey? What were your experiences and effects etc. Did you only do it the once, and didn’t get results?

    All the best,


  8. Seppo Says:

    Very true. We live in a day and age of ‘fixing mentality’. Most people still see the human body as a machine put together by some celestial watch maker and that they have to fix the machine by doing and eating certain things.

    Then they’ll develop an eating disorder because they are afraid to eat foods that will break the machine.

    In many cases they are trying to solve what’s essentially an emotional problem or a problem of poor self-image with diet.

    @Jamie, my Accutane journey was fairly normal. No big side-effects or horror stories. My skin just got horribly dry and started flaking, very dry and occasionally bleeding lips and some mild eye pain. Cleared my back acne, but after 6 months developed equally horrible acne on my scalp. If I remember correctly I only did it once. It put too much strain on my student budget.

  9. Colleen Says:

    As a somewhat awkward young teen and after trying to clear my acne with several other methods, Accutane, a new drug, was introduced to me and my mother as a new effective drug that would cure my problem. I began to take the medicine as a young teen who was living a low cholesterol and extreamly active lifestyle, participating in sports 5 to 7 days a week and eating a low fat, low cholesterol and low sugar diet. The treatment went well despite the severe drying of my skin and the importance of staying out of direct sunlight. I continued afterwards living a healthy acne free life; having my beautiful daughter at age 23. At age 25 I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabeties and nearly lost the most precious gift, life. With no family history of the disease and knowing i was living a healthy, vegetarian, holistic lifestyle I was confused as to how this happend? But always in the back of my mind, I thought all these years if something negative could come; I am positive that this drug has caused me type 1 diabeties….please do not allow your sons or daughters, your husbands and wifes, your coworkers and friends to take this DRUG!!!

  10. L S Says:

    I took accutane when I was 18. I am now 24. I am 5’9 and weigh 125 lbs. I am in no way overweight. I have always been healthy but I was given accutane for a really bad bladder infection. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year. I follow a very strict organic diet, no family history of diabetes…it is from this drug…do not take accutane!

  11. trishjenn smith Says:

    Took Accutane in the mid 90′s during high school for acne. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1998-99 i was 20 there is no history in any of my family traced back for generations of Type 1 Diabetes.

  12. Angie Says:

    I took Accutane for the first time when I was 25 and it gave the most clear skin I have I ever had, I didn’t feel any of the side effects that people talk about but just 2 months after finished the treatment the acne came back and then after like 6 months I asked my dermatologist to take it again, as I thought of it as the wonder solution for my skin. Now I am 27 and was just diagnosed with bone marrow aplasy, a very very serious illness. My doctor couldn’t find out why since I was always a very healthy person and have a fairly healthy life style. Then she compared my blood tests before Accutane and after, and then, guess what? She believes that’s the reason and me too! Thank God I am doing well, not healed yet but on the way. I have changed my diet and I tell you, that’s the key for ALL diseases. My skin is getting clear and I hope to get well from the marrow aplasy too. I am very sure and very positive about it! Changing eating habits might not be that easy, but having a clear skin and being HEALTHFUL is priceless!

  13. Nick Says:

    Okay, some people are under the notion that type-1 diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar. This is not true for type-1 nor type-2 diabetes. However, eating too much sugar can cause obesity which is a factor in developing type-2 diabetes. Type-1 diabetes is a rare autoimmune disorder where the body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This is a genetic disease. If you have the DNA to develop this type of diabetes, then you will develop it sometime in your life. What causes the gene to be enabled is a mystery. It could be a virus, stress, or a drug like Accutane. So if you developed type-1 diabetes after taking accutane, chances are that you were going to develop it anyways.

  14. Joey Says:

    I was a strong and healthy high school student who never went to the doctor. After taking accutane as a sophomore in college, i had severe mood swings and a violent reaction while on the medication. Ive since had to drop out due to reactive hypoglycemia and a sudden onset of adrenal insufficiency. I’ve been recovering now for almost 1 year, and seeing a pain care doctor weekly. I met with the inventor of accutane who is a dematologist who lives in my hometown, Dublin, Ohio. He couldn’t offer me any advice.

    I’m 22 years old, in the worst shape of my life, but on the best diet/exercise program, and receiving the best nutritive supplements/vitamins many can buy. I juice vegetables daily, and stay away from any and all sugars and carbohydrates, minus vegetables. I’m seeing very little improvement to my accutane-induced break down.

    In addition to a $150/month list of supplements/vitamins and a $300/month need for organic produce, my doctor is now recommending antidepressants to stave off weekly low-sugar panic attacks. If my Adrenal function does not recover, i’ll be on corticosteroids for the rest of my life.

    I’m seeing a counselor due to the drastic changes in my social life, and have sought prayer for healing. I have spent more time researching health, biological science, and meeting with doctors in the past year than I have in all my years combined.

    I still have acne.

    Simply put, if you are willing to risk your life for the possibility of a clear forehead, take Accutane.

  15. Sarah Hanson Says:

    the first person “Jason” was my brother and we are now almost positive that the drug is what caused his diabetes.

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