An American study finds that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs increase the risk of developing diabetes by 87 per cent.
Around 26,000 beneficiaries of Tricare, the military health system, were identified as healthy adults at the start of the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTS).
The subjects were evaluated between October 2003 and March 2012 and divided into two groups, those who used statins and those who didn’t. At the beginning of the study, 3982 healthy adults were using statins.
The researchers paired 3,351 statin users with non-users who were similar to them in 42 health and demographic factors. The outcomes assessed included obesity, new-onset diabetes and diabetes complications.
Those taking statin drugs to control their cholesterol were 87 percent more likely to develop diabetes. Patients on statins were 250 per cent more likely to develop diabetes with complications compared to non-users.
Statin users had an increased 14 per cent risk of becoming overweight or obese, which is a leading risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Researcher’s warning
However, lead researcher Ishak Mansi, UTS advised caution following the findings and stressed that people should not stop using statins, which can help reduce cardiac risk factors.
Mansi said: “No patient should stop taking their statins based on our study, since statin therapy is a cornerstone in treatment of cardiovascular diseases and has been clearly shown to lower mortality and disease progression.
“Rather, this study should alert researchers, [clinical] guideline writers, and policymakers that short-term clinical trials might not fully describe the risks and benefits of long-term statin use for primary prevention,” Mansi added.
Mansi and his team are urging further trials to be conducted so the long-term effects of statin use can be better understood.
The results of this study were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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