A new study suggests people taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are at even greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than previously suspected. The new study, published in the journal Diabetologia, found that men taking statins had a 46 percent greater risk of developing diabetes than men who did not take the drugs. The study also found that statin use was linked to a 24 percent reduction in insulin sensitivity and a 12 percent reduction in insulin secretions.
Statin drugs, such as Lipitor, are used to lower cholesterol levels to prevent heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths.
Previous studies have put the incidence of diabetes with statin use at up to 36 percent, with an average risk of a statin user developing the chronic disease at 9 percent in meta-analyses. Some studies also suggested the risk was higher among women, especially postmenopausal women and Asian women. These studies evaluated fasting blood sugar levels.
The new study applied a more precise screening using A1C and glucose tolerance tests.
“It does look like people who have increased incidence of type 2 diabetes on statins tend to be those already at highest risk for diabetes development,” said Michael Rocco, medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Stress Testing, Section of Preventative Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic.
Rocco did not participate in the research but did point out that those who were more apt to develop diabetes from statin use were those who had a higher BMI and a much higher incidence of cardiovascular disease. Being overweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
People who are prescribed statin drugs should discuss statin side effects with their doctors. Risk factors that can make statin users more susceptible to developing the chronic disease including being overweight and older than 45; having a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or high blood lipids; being African-American, Hispanic, or Asian; or having a history of gestational diabetes or having given birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
Source: Cleveland Clinic