Statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs put patients at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The most recent research to show a connection is the Women’s Health Initiative, a very large study begun in the mid 1990s. It included more than 150,000 postmenopausal women without diabetes at the beginning of the study. About 10,000 of them developed the disease in the following decade, and statistical analysis shows that those taking a statin such as Crestor or Lipitor were 48 percent more likely to get a diabetes diagnosis.
Although many physicians seem surprised with this finding, it is not the first time statins have been linked to a higher risk of diabetes. Studies published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the Journal of the American Medical Association also reported a higher risk of diabetes for people taking statins.
While statins are critical for people with a high risk of heart trouble, people who simply need to lower their cholesterol may need to be more cautious about using these powerful medications. With this new evidence doctors and patients should thoroughly discuss the benefits and risks of statin treatment.
[Archives of Internal Medicine, online Jan, 9, 2012]