A new study published in Diabetologia shows that use of statin medications, which is often used to lower cholesterol, can significantly increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Medical News Today reports that the association between statin therapy and type 2 diabetes is not new, but the most recent study accounts for some of the limitations present in prior research.
The study was led by Prof. Markku Laakso of the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital in Finland. He and his colleagues say that a number of previous studies only included a specific subset of the population, such as individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease. This means that the results of the study may not apply to the general population. The authors also point out that most of the studies relied on self-reporting or fasting glucose measurements to identify participants with diabetes, which may underestimate the actual incidence of diabetes.
The current study included 8,740 nondiabetic Caucasian men between the ages of 45 and 73. All of the participants were part of the Finland-based Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) study. Researchers used an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to determine a participant’s diabetes status; type 2 diabetes was confirmed with an HbA1c level of at least 6.5 percent or the commencement of antidiabetic medication. Upon 5.9 year follow-up, 625 men were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes based on these parameters.
Findings revealed that men were 46 percent more likely to develop diabetes if they used statins compared to those who did not. This risk remained even after accounting for other factors, including age, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol intake, family history of diabetes and treatment with beta-blockers and diuretic medications.
Additionally, men treated with statins were found to have a 24 percent reduction in insulin sensitivity during follow-up. The risk of type 2 diabetes was dose dependent for two statins, simvastatin atorvastatin. Patients taking these drugs were also found to have a dose-dependent reductions in insulin sensitivity and insulin secretions.
After adjusting for other factors, the researchers found that high-dose simvastatin was associated with a 44 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes and a lower dose was linked to a 28 percent increased risk. High-dose atorvastatin was linked to a 37 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Atorvastatin users accounted for 53 percent of participants, while 29 percent were taking simvastatin.