Statins, drugs prescribed to reduce blood cholesterol levels, have been associated with an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.
The researchers in Canada reviewed 1.5 million people over the age of 66 in a report published in the British Medical Journal, according to BBC News Health. The study found that statins could increase risks for developing Type 2 diabetes by 22 percent when compared to less potent options. Lipitor (atorvastatin) was associated with one extra case of Type 2 diabetes for every 160 patients treated.
Statins are considered the best selling drugs worldwide and are prescribed to people diagnosed with obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, which is a dangerous health combination that includes excess body fat and/or high blood pressure, blood sugar, and/or high cholesterol, according to Medical News Today. Statins are prescribed to reduce cholesterol in the prevention of potentially fatal blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.
Drugs in the statin class are known to carry increased risks for myopathy (severe muscle damage) and should be prescribed with caution and at the lowest possible effective dose to reduce risks for these side effects.
For this study, the researchers reviewed the records of people over the age of 66 and compared those to the rate of diabetes in people taking different statins. “We found that patients treated with atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, or simvastatin were at increased risk of new onset diabetes compared with those treated with pravastatin. Clinicians should consider this risk when they are contemplating statin treatment for individual patients. Preferential use of pravastatin… might be warranted,” they wrote in the report, according to BBC News Health. Atorvastatin is sold under the brand Lipitor and rosuvastatin is sold under the brand Crestor.
Commenting on the study, Professors Risto Huupponen and Jorma Viikari, of the University of Turku, in Finland, said that statin use should be targeted based on patient needs and history noting that, “The most potent statins, at least in higher doses, should preferably be reserved for patients who do not respond to low-potency treatment, but have a high total risk of cardiovascular disease,” according to BBC Health News.
Another new study released this week found that statins may actually minimize exercise benefits in obese adults. New University of Missouri (MU) research found that Zocor (simvastatin) minimized any positive effects from exercise in adults who were obese or overweight, according to Medical News Today.
We also previously wrote that a BMJ article looked at the association between statins and kidney damage. Data from over 2 million patient records were reviewed and involved Zocor, Lipitor, and Crestor. The researchers concluded that patients prescribed these high-potency statins exhibited increased risks for hospitalization for acute kidney injury when compared to patients taking lower-potency statins. The researchers urged physicians to consider this risk when considering patient treatment options when patients’ kidney injury risks persisted for at least two years.
We also wrote that people who take statins may face increased risks for developing age-related cataracts. A study found that the association between statins and cataracts may be the same as for Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a known risk factor for age-relegated cataracts. The finding is significant because statin use is typically greater in Type 2 diabetics, compared to the general population.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has also warned that statins not only raise blood sugar levels, but may also cause memory loss. Statin labels were updated to reflect this potential side effect. Also, analysis of previously conducted clinical trials cast doubt on statin efficacy, specifically Crestor, in the prevention of blood clots. A prior ScienceDaily report indicated that some 30 prior trials of statin drugs revealed that the drugs are barely effective at preventing blood clots, if at all.