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A new study in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, suggests that the link between the development of type 2 diabetes and the use of statin drugs are stronger than previously thought. This strong link means that statin use may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What observations led researchers to believe statin use may increase the risk of diabetes?
The researchers studied 8,567 participants, both men, and women. Their average age was 64 years old. At the beginning of the study, the men and women were not taking statins, and they did not have diabetes.
The follow up to the study was 15 years later. At that point, about 12% of the participants in the group had started taking statins. The two most common statins used by group members were Zocor (simvastatin) or Lipitor (atorvastatin). The other participants were on either Pravachol (pravastatin) or Lescol (fluvastatin). Almost all of the participants that were on the statins had been taking them for more than a year. Of those participants, there were 716 new cases of diabetes. This finding caused researchers to look at statins and a possible increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The researchers controlled for smoking, age, gender, a family medical history of diabetes, and other factors and correlations. They found that using statins is associated with a higher risk of developing insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar. These two factors increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 38%.
Statin users who were overweight and those who were obese had an even higher risk of developing diabetes. There was no difference in risk between the brands and the doses of the statin drugs.
“We don’t want to scare people about statins,” the lead author, Fariba Ahmadizar, a postdoctoral researcher at Erasmus University in Rotterdam said. “Their benefits in cardiovascular disease prevention are well known. But we want people to understand their risks in the presence of diabetic symptoms or overweight and obesity.”
If you are taking statins, it is essential that you continue to do so. Stopping any drug without doctor supervision can be dangerous. Talk to your physician if you are worried about statins and your risk of developing diabetes.