Study Shows Statins Raise Risk of DiabetesSep 25, 2014
Statins, medications used to lower cholesterol have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes in past studies. Now, a study published in the Lancet not only strengthens this association but strongly suggests that the increased diabetes risk is from the drug itself, rather than another factor.
Dr. Daniel Swerdlow, lead researcher from University College London’s Institute of Cardiovascular Science, says that the findings show strong evidence that the drug’s mechanism can lead to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, according to The Guardian. “Findings indicate that the weight gain and diabetes risk observed in the analysis from trials are related to the known mechanism of action of statins rather than some other unintended effect.” said Dr. Swerdlow.
Researchers used genetic data from up to 220,000 people and results from nearly 130,000 patients who participated in previous statin trials. In patients taking statins over the course of four years, there was a 12 percent increased risk of diabetes; these patients gained roughly eight ounces in weight on average.
Statins have been linked to other side effects in previous studies. In addition to diabetes, use of statins has been associated with cataract development, muscle pain and acute kidney injury in high doses. In one study, findings suggested that statins reduced exercise benefits in overweight and obese adults.
There has also been some debate about the use of statins in older patients. Last year, AMDA, a professional group representing physicians who work in nursing homes, warned against inappropriate use of statins in the elderly. According to Dr. Hosam Kamel, vice chair of AMDA’s clinical practice committee and an Arkansas geriatrician, there is little evidence to support use of statins in patients 70 years of age or older who did not have pre-existing cardiovascular disease. Additionally, Dr. Kamel said that the drugs can carry risks, including muscle aches, liver toxicity, and gastrointestinal distress; increased evidence of impaired memory and increased diabetes risks; and some ties to increased cancer risks, according to a New York Times/NewOldAge blog.