Statins can Increase Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on May 12, 2015

There is new evidence to suggest that cholesterol lowering statin drugs increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes but people are being urged not to stop taking the drug without consulting their doctors.

The latest study from the University of Texas Southwestern found that those taking statins to control their cholesterol were 87% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

diabetesDRUGSThe study looked at 26,000 beneficiaries of Tricare, the US military health system, who were identified as healthy adults at the start of the study in October 2003 who were divided into two groups, those who used statins and those who didn’t.

During the study which ended in March 2012 the researchers paired 3,351 statin users with non-users who were similar to them in 42 health and demographic factors. The outcomes assessed included obesity, new onset diabetes and diabetes complications.

Those taking statin drugs to control their cholesterol were 87% more likely to develop diabetes. Patients on statins were 250% more likely to develop diabetes with complications compared to non-users.

Statin users had an increased 14% risk of becoming overweight or obese, which is a leading risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Lead researcher Ishak Mansi stressed that people should not stop using statins, which can help reduce cardiac risk factors. ‘No patient should stop taking their statins based on our study, since statin therapy is a cornerstone in treatment of cardiovascular diseases and has been clearly shown to lower mortality and disease progression,’ he said..

‘Rather, this study should alert researchers, clinical guideline writers, and policymakers that short term clinical trials might not fully describe the risks and benefits of long term statin use for primary prevention,’ he explained.

Mansi and his team are urging further trials to be conducted so the long term effects of statin use can be better understood. ‘The risk of diabetes with statins has been known, but up until now it was thought that this might be due to the fact that people who were prescribed statins had greater medical risks to begin with,’ he pointed out.

Overall, besides driving further research, Mansi says he hopes the results will help inform conversations between patients and providers about the risks and benefits of statins.

‘I am a firm believer that these medications are very valuable for patients when there are clear and strict indications for them. But knowing the risks may motivate a patient to quit smoking, rather than swallow a tablet, or to lose weight and exercise. Ideally, it is better to make those lifestyle changes and avoid taking statins if possible,’ he concluded.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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