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Australian Study Says Statins Raise Diabetes Risk

Mar 20, 2017

Statins Raise Diabetes Risk in Older Women According to Recent Research

Recent Australian Study Says Statins Raise Diabetes Risk

Patients who take high doses of cholesterol-lowering medications are likelier to suffer dangerous increases in blood sugar levels. Research has revealed that prescribed statins are less likely to lead to heart disease; however, the drugs appear to make patients more vulnerable to developing Type 2 diabetes, according to Researchers found people over the age of 75 are one-third likelier to suffer adverse blood sugar levels if they are taking a statin medication. The risk increases to 50 percent for those taking higher statin doses.

Statins work by lowering cholesterol by interfering with cholesterol production in the liver. High cholesterol is a critical risk factor for a variety of deadly cardiovascular conditions, including coronary heart disease. Statins are prescribed to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. Some of the most common statins are Lescol (fluvastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin). It is thought the number of people on the pills could rise to 12 million if most men over 50 and women over 60 took the drug as a precaution; however, up to 10 percent of those on statins may experience sore throat, nausea, digestive problems, muscle and joint pain, and increased blood sugar levels. According to guidelines in Great Britain, patients thought to have more than a 10 percent chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke within a decade should be offered statins on the National Health Service (NHS), according to

Oliver Jelley, editor of the British journal The Diabetes Times, said that, "Statins have long proved controversial despite the ability they have to lower cholesterol and this research raises further questions about blanket use of the drug. Type 2 is a serious challenge for everyone who develops it especially older people, a group where it is particularly prevalent with up to one in four care home residents alone having the condition," reported.

According to Dr. Mark Jones, who led the research, "We found almost 50 percent of women in their late-70s and 80s in the study took statins and five percent were diagnosed with new onset diabetes. What is most concerning was we found a 'dose effect' where the risk of diabetes increased as the dosage of statins increased…. Over the 10 years of the study most of the women progressed to higher doses of statins. GPs and their elderly female patients should be aware of the risks," Dr. Jones added, reported.

Dr. Jones and colleagues pointed out that most participants in statin trials have been males. They noted that females, specifically elderly females, have been underrepresented. "Our group has expertise and experience in women's health, including being involved with the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health for the past 20 years, and we focused on the older cohort of women [in this study] because we thought this is a population that has generally not been included in clinical trials," Dr. Jones explained to Medscape Medical News.

"Clearly, statins have beneficial effects, including a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events; however, the dose-response effect we observed suggests that it may be wise to avoid using higher doses of statins in older women," lead author Mark Jones, MD, senior lecturer, school of public health, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia wrote to Medscape Medical News in an email.

A large-scale British review in 2016 revealed that statins were the safest and most effective way of preventing heart attack and stroke; however, the medication class remains very controversial. For example, Professor Alan Sinclair, director of the Foundation for Diabetes Research in Older People, pointed out that, "Statin use and increased diabetes risk is not new and clinicians must continue to minimize risk due to the adverse effects of these drugs by careful prescribing but at the same time recognize clear cardiovascular benefits from their use. In older people, who are already at increased diabetes risk from other causes, lifestyle modification with sufficient exercise and good nutrition may offset the development of diabetes in many cases," according to reported that the latest study, conducted by the University of Queensland, in Australia, is the first to look at the effect of statins on female pensioners. Experts note that these patients be regularly monitored.

The findings were published in the journal Drugs and Aging and were based on prescription and survey data obtained from 8,372 women who were born between 1921 and 1926. All of the women were living in 2003 and were not diagnosed with diabetes. Their exposure to statins occurred via prescriptions issued between 2002 and 2013.

Parker Waichman LLP is a national law firm that represents many clients in drug injury lawsuits. The firm, which keeps-up-to-date with statin litigation, continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals who are interested in filing a statin lawsuit.

Prior Research Points to Association Between Statin Use and Diabetes

Association Between Statin Use and Diabetes

Previous studies revealed a tie between the use of statins and the onset of diabetes, Dr. Jones and his colleagues said. They noted that, statin use benefits may outweigh the risk of diabetes, the risk-benefit profiles depends on the original indication for statins. Statin use as the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease remains controversial, they researchers point out.

In 2014, researchers published their findings in the journal Diabetes concerning why diabetes is linked to statin use, according to Medical News Today.

"Recently, an increased risk of diabetes has been added to the warning label for statin use," said lead author Jonathan Schertzer, assistant professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and a Canadian Diabetes Association Scholar. "This was perplexing to us," he added, "because if you are improving your metabolic profile with statins you should actually be decreasing the incidence of diabetes with these drugs, yet, the opposite happened." The researchers note that, at the time, some 13 million people could be potentially prescribed a statin at some point in their lives.

In January 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a Consumer Update detailing risks tied with taking statins, including an increased risk of raised blood sugar levels and the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Filing a Statin Lawsuit

If you or someone you know developed diabetes after taking a statin, you may have valuable legal rights. The drug side effect attorneys at Parker Waichman offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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