Statin use is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes among high-risk individuals, a new study reports.
Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs prescribed to reduce cardiovascular risks, but a variety of studies have shown the drugs have an association with type 2 diabetes development.
These new findings were from a long-term US study of 3,234 patients at high risk of type 2 diabetes, all of whom had elevated BMIs and blood sugar levels.
Participants took part in the US Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS) and were randomised to receive different interventions to prevent type 2 diabetes. These included an intensive lifestyle programmen, metformin treatment or a placebo drug. They were then followed for an average of 10 years.
Fewer than four per cent of participants took statins at the study’s start, but this figure increased to around a third of participants after 10 years. Moreover, statin use was associated with heightened type 2 diabetes risk irrespective of which treatment group a patient belonged to.
Overall, statin use was associated with a 36 per cent increased risk of type 2 diabetes development compared to those who did not take the drugs. No link was observed between statin potency in diabetes risk, nor in regard to LDL cholesterol.
While this was an observational study and no causal link between statin use and diabetes risk can be made, the researchers point to evidence suggesting that statins can impair insulin production. This, they believe, could help explain the diabetes risk.
They added, however, that the potential increased risk of diabetes should always be weighed carefully against any benefits of statins, which include reduced risk of a heart attack and stroke in certain groups of people.
The findings appear online in the online journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research &Care.

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