Statins May Increase Risk of Diabetes

The link between statin use and the development of Type 2 diabetes may be even stronger than previously believed, a new study suggests.

Researchers prospectively studied 8,567 men and women whose average age was 64. All were free of diabetes and not taking statins when the study started.

In a follow-up of up to 15 years, about 12 percent of the group started taking statins, most using either Zocor or Lipitor (simvastatin or atorvastatin) and the rest either Pravachol or Lescol (pravastatin or fluvastatin). Most took them for more than a year, and there were 716 new cases of diabetes in the group.

After controlling for age, sex, smoking, family history of diabetes and many other factors, they found that statin use was associated with higher risk for insulin resistance and high blood sugar, and with a 38 percent increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes. The brand of statin and the dosage made no difference, but the risk was especially high in statin users who were overweight or obese. The study was in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

“We don’t want to scare people about statins,” said the lead author, Fariba Ahmadizar, a postdoctoral researcher at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. “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.”

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