Cholesterol-lowering statins may significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
The study, published in Diabetologia, discovered that men who were prescribed statins to lower their cholesterol were 46 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes over a six-year period than men who were not prescribed statins.
Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs that reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
The risk of type 2 diabetes was increased the longer statins were taken for, and the stronger the dose.
Moreover, statins increased the risk of insulin resistance and reduced the amount of insulin secreted.
No study has ever associated statins with such a high increase in type 2 diabetes risk. Previous research has indicated that statins raise blood pressure, and some have suggested that the risk of type 2 diabetes is increased by between 10 and 20 per cent.
The research indicates a difficult situation for doctors and patients. Statins are usually prescribed to people at higher risk of heart disease. But type 2 diabetes, which is potentially caused by the drugs, further increases the risk of heart disease.
Some doctors stand by statins, regardless of this new research. Dr. Robert Eckel, former president of the American Heart Association and Professor of Medicine at University of Colorado School of Medicine, said:
“It’s a good news-bad news scenario. Although there is convincing evidence that patients on statins are at increased risk of new-onset diabetes, the benefit accrued is reducing risks of heart attack, stroke and fatal heart disease trumps the effects of being new onset diabetics.”
Dr. Eckel also points out that the study focused only on white men. The results may not apply to everyone.

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