The People's Perspective on Medicine

New Statin Study Confirms Scary Link to Diabetes

Do statins raise blood sugar and increase the risk of diabetes? A new study says the risk of diabetes is substantially greater than previously reported.

Statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs like atorvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin are supposed to prevent heart attacks and strokes. New research from Finland suggests that such drugs may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 46 percent, a condition that is strongly linked to heart attacks and strokes. What gives?

In 2003 People’s Pharmacy Readers Were Alerted

We received a signal from readers more than a decade ago that statins could

  1. Trigger diabetes in people with normal blood sugar and
  2. Make control of diabetes more challenging in people who already had the disease.

As long ago as 2003 we began getting messages like this one:

“Since we started on Lipitor, our blood sugar has been rising rapidly. My husband asked the doctor about changing to Tricor, but he was told it would not help him much and he should stay with Lipitor. It seems that Lipitor is affecting our blood sugar. Is this possible?”

At that time most physicians did not believe statins could affect blood sugar. We scoured the official prescribing information for atorvastatin (Lipitor) and found hidden away in a long list of other possible adverse reactions the word “hyperglycemia.” In other words, elevated blood sugar. But this side effect was buried along with lots of other seemingly rare complications. Most patients were never warned that there was a connection between Lipitor and blood sugar elevations.

JUPITER and Diabetes: Dodging and Weaving

In 2008 a study called JUPITER (New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 8, 2008) revealed a link between rosuvastatin (Crestor) and type 2 diabetes. Nowhere in the abstract or the conclusions was there mention of this connection. That is what busy doctors often look at rather than read the entire article.

If, however, you took the time to actually review the full results you discovered that although the authors downplayed the risk of elevated blood sugar they admitted that, “Nevertheless, physician-reported diabetes was more frequent in the rosuvastatin group (270 reports of diabetes, vs. 216 in the placebo group…”

In the discussion the authors admitted that:

“We did detect a small but significant increase in the rate of physician-reported diabetes with rosuvastatin, as well as a small, though significant, increase in the median value of glycated hemoglobin [HbA1c].

Increases in glucose and glycated hemoglobin levels, the incidence of newly diagnosed diabetes, and worsening glycemic [blood sugar] control have been reported in previous trials of pravastatin, simvastatin, and atorvastatin.

However, systematic protocol-specified measurements showed no significant difference between our two study groups in fasting blood glucose levels or glycosuria during the follow-up period. Therefore, although the increase in the rate of physician-reported diabetes in the rosuvastatin group could reflect the play of chance, further study is needed before any causative effect can be established or refuted.”

Granted, this is doctorspeak and somewhat hard to decipher. We interpret their analysis as attempting to downplay the risk. The seeds of doubt are planted with the phrase “could reflect the play of chance.” And indeed some cardiologists chose to either ignore or minimize the connection between rosuvastatin (and other statins) and diabetes.

MDs Promote Statins for Everyone with Diabetes

The American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association have all come out strongly in favor of statin therapy. In fact the ACC and the AHA published a Risk Calculator that pretty much requires all physicians to prescribe a statin to anyone with diabetes.

When we have asked cardiologists at the top of the pecking order whether statins might trigger diabetes or make it worse, we were told that it is nothing to worry about and that the benefits of statins far outweighed any risks.

The Straight & Skinny on Statins

Almost seven years after the JUPITER trial was published, we have accumulating evidence that statin use is indeed linked to diabetes. In most of the clinical trials there wasn’t much incentive to look for this connection because it was not anticipated. Even so, going back and reviewing 13 studies revealed that there was a signal.

The Finns Spill the Beans

The most recent study tracked 8,749 Finnish men between the ages of 45 and 73. None had diabetes at the start of the trial. They were followed for nearly six years. Here is what they found:

“Our study reports several novel findings: (1) statin therapy was associated with a 46% increased risk of type 2 diabetes after adjustment for confounding factors, suggesting a higher risk of diabetes in the general population than previously reported; (2) statin therapy was associated with a worsening of hyperglycaemia, especially 2 h glucose; (3) statin therapy was associated with a 24% reduction in insulin sensitivity and 12% reduction in insulin secretion compared with individuals without statin therapy and (4) both simvastatin and atorvastatin treatment was associated with reduced insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion in a dose-dependent manner.

In our study statin therapy was associated with a higher risk of diabetes (46%) than previously reported.

The Bottom Line on Statins and Diabetes

There is no longer any doubt that statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs like atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor) can trigger diabetes. And based on the Finnish trial, these drugs make it harder to to control blood sugar. Perhaps most convincing to a pharmacologist like me, the higher the dose, the worse the problem. In other words, a dose-related problem usually signals that the adverse effect is caused by the drugs and is not merely “chance.”

As we mentioned at the top of the page, the most worrisome complications of diabetes are cardiovascular: heart attacks and strokes. Statins are supposed to lower the risks of such events. But if statins increase the risk of diabetes, then almost by definition the drugs are also increasing the risks of the very outcomes they are supposed to be preventing. It would be like trying to climb a hill with lead overshoes. Another analogy we like: driving with your feet on the gas and the brake simultaneously. You will not make much progress this way.

No one should ever stop any medication without consulting with the prescribing physician. That is certainly the case in this situation. Nevertheless, we encourage people who are taking statins to share the latest Finnish research with their health care professionals.

And we very much want to learn from you. Have you had diffilculties with blood glucose while taking a statin-type drug or have you avoided such problems? Please share your story below in the “WHAT DO YOU THINK?” section. And please vote on this article at the top of this page.

Anyone who would like to learn more about alternative approaches to controlling cholesterol and improving heart health will find our book, Best Choices from the People’s Pharmacy, of interest.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I had type 2 diabetes. I was on medication, Avandia. I was not taking cholesterol-lowering medication. I asked my GP if I could discontinue Avandia because I heard it was dangerous. I went off the drug and started a natural treatment. No drugs. I watched what I ate, execised and drank 1/2 glass of red wine with dinner every day. During that time my A1C was tested regularly, and over a period of almost 2 years my A1C kept dropping until I was in the normal range, and my GP declared me no longer diabetic. Later, a new doctor prescribed that I take Crestor. Ever since then, my glucose readings have shot up to 7.5 fasting, and A1C is in the 6-7 range. I told him that I believed it was Crestor but he brushed it off as not being a factor.

I am a pharmacist. I am a 54 yo female in great health other than familial high cholesterol. I follow a diabetic diet most of the time (no processed. no sugar.) veggies, fruit, lean protein. No alcohol or tobacco and exercise regularly. I feel great. The only medication I take is Crestor 10mg and a multi vitamin, Calcium and Vitamin D. Recently I went in for my annual OBGYN check and my fasting glucose level was 105. I was shocked. My OBGYN dismissed it and said we would check it in 6 months, but after I started researching, I realized that it could be the Crestor. So now, I am doing an experiment on myself. I have been taking my fasting blood sugar each morning and it has run from 100 to 117. I will take it once more after Crestor 10mg tonight and then I am going to stop the Crestor for a few days to see the impact. My question is: Is it reversible or have already done damage. The clinical literature seems to dismiss the importance of this.

Since taking 20 mg of a statin for 10 yrears after a heart attack,my husband has developed nueropathy in his feet,low testosterone and type 2 diabetes.

15 months ago, my total cholesterol was 240. I was given a generic statin Rx. 20 mg daily. My blood sugar was 89 and weight was 245. Yes, obese. Should be 180 pounds tops. Decided to take the statin every other day vs daily. The half dose dropped total cholesterol to 180, but blood sugar went to 104. Weight remained the same.

Age 62 when I started the statin and will be 64 in a few months. Cursory research indicates Type 2 diabetes and being overweight are frequently related, while some articles present less conclusive evidence that this piece in establishing a link between blood sugar levels and statin drugs. Now I have been prescribed some oral medication to bring down the blood sugar. Haven’t called the pharmacy to learn the name or dose.

I have T2 diabetes. I had been on finofibrate for cholesterol and maintained an A1C of around 7. My weight was also stable. 5 months ago, I was changed to Atorvastatin. My blood sugar started going off from norm immediately even without diet change. Muscle weakness and tiredness. Now I have a rash that is spreading over my body. Reading this and other reports today, I am blaming the atorvastatin for all of it.

I am certainly concerned by the reports of the connection with statins and type II diabetes since I have been on various statins since the late 1970s (I turned 70 this year). My condition is hyperlipidemia type II b and without drugs my total cholesterol has been as high as 411 and my father had his first cardiac event at age 60.

Through a combination of Zetia and Crestor, my total cholesterol has been 220-250 for some time now and through the administration of fish oil, niacin, and a regular exercise program my HDL is 50-70, but ldl is still 130 or higher. I have been fortunate to avoid any of the muscle weakness problems that other writers report and my glucose levels have been steady in the high normal range for decades. So far so good.

I guess I will stick with what I am doing but be alert for an uptick in any indicators that diabetes is looming. It appears to me that what we have here (as regards the general prescription for stations) is a failure of evidence based medicine, meaning that important individual, and sub group differences in effects are masked by statistically significant group results.

Now I know what happen to me . My holesterol was 200 and my doctor prescribe me a Lovastatin 40mg . I was takingthis medicine at least 5 month and after next blood test she inform me that I have diabetes . I was very ,very surpraise begause there was no diabetes in my all family . Then the doctor prescribe me Medformin 500 mg and very soon Medformin 1.000 mg and my suger leval in blood was stil hight . One day I find out on line supplament Marvlix and when I start taking Marvlix I notice that my numbers start going down .
All numbers : cholesterol , blood presure , sugar levol in blood . My next blood test was very much good and doctor told me what ever you do is good and don’t stop . Also I start use instad sugar Blue Agave ( low glycemic sweetener) .
Now I know what happen to me and doctors still prescrabe this poison to people . Recently my new doctor send prescription to pharmacy with some statins but I am not going to take this anymore
My life is to beautiful to risk with this poison . I don’t care about theirs profit which keep this poison on the market . So sad that money more important than peoples health .

I was on Simvastatin for 18 months and did not realize why I had trouble going up stairs, opening bottles of water and electric-type pains and aches in my legs that would make me jump just sitting watching TV…. all because my Total Cholesterol was 200. Then I was diagnosed Diabetic! With a blood sugar level of 499, AIC 12. I lowered it in 3 months to 6.3 with medication and a dramatic change in diet and titrated down the Statin Drug….. In trying to “help” people with their Cholesterol, the Medical Community has created a horrible new problem……

NOW I understand why there is a Diabetes epidemic in this country…. its from the STATIN epidemic that has been going on for years!

I have taken Pravastatin for 2 years and have watched my A1C rise. When I lowered the dosage from 40 mg to 20 mg my A1C went down but my total cholesterol those and so did my LDL level. When I told this to my doctor he looked at me. I asked him what would you rather have Diabetes or high cholesterol he said Diabetes. I said high cholesterol.

I was put on Lipitor about 5 weeks ago and also metformin too. I noticed after about a week that even controlling my carbs and sugar my fasting sugar readings have been reading high. I definitely feel their is a connection to the Lipitor

So, do you or do you not take simvastatin? I stopped it completely and my Dr. had a fit and told me to resume it. I have had T2 for 3 years. My A1C is 7.

If you’re asking me (Elizabeth), I stopped Simvastatin myself. Slowly weaning off. My doctor also had a fit. I moved across country, got a new doctor, and she suggested a type of statin that she said probably would not affect me. It did. I quit that drug. She’s now suggesting I try yet another one. I keep telling her that my reaction to these drugs is severe. I got looked at strangely. I’m afraid the doctors just don’t believe it.

If anyone’s interested in more information, there is a site by a Doctor who was also an astronaut who was prescribed statins, and he was severely affected, never to get back to normal, now he is trying to give as much information about cholesterol and statins as possible. http://www.spacedoc.com (Not a quack site!)

Steve, you and your doctor need to weigh the pros and cons to figure out the answer to your question. There isn’t a single “yes” or “no” that is right for everyone.

I couldn’t tolerate statins (tried four different ones). At one point my doc diagnosed polymyalgia rheumatica for which he gave me prednisone. It helped for a while… then I stopped statins for good.

But my comment relates to possible association between statins and cataracts, which I’m starting to have. Would be of interest to have the People’s Pharmacy take a look sometime.

YES! I have read that there may be a correlation between Statins and Cataracts. I am also developing them.

I am a T2 diabetic with a 25 year history of well-controlled diabetes. HbA1c hovers in the range of 5.7-6.1. I began taking CholestOff because my LDL is over 150, and my doctor wants it below 100. I am in otherwise excellent health, with other blood lipid levels reasonable.. Routine health checkups and ECGs do not indicate any reasons for concern; much the opposite, in fact. Shortly after beginning the CholestOff at the recommended dose, I noted that my blood glucose readings, and my morning BG in particular, were much higher (morning 110 versus 90 before CholestOff), and I am experiencing joint pain. Two weeks after stopping CholestOff, my BG levels are still difficult to get down. I don’t consider this a review of CholestOff, but more of a comment on statins and diabetes.

I have Type 2 diabetes and was prescribed Lipitor about 6 months ago. My morning sugar has been moderately elevated but under control with metformin. After reading all the potentially bad things about Lipitor and paying for tests which determined I have no heart disease, I quit using Lipitor 2 weeks ago. Immediately the next day, my morning sugar went to normal and is no longer moderately elevated. I can’t believe my medical professionals were prescribing Lipitor to me now that I look back on this history.

Cholestoff is not a statin; it’s a proprietary blend of plant sterols and stanols that inhibits cholesterol uptake by the intestine.

That said, it’s interesting that you had this effect with Cholestoff.

I had a stent placed and am taking 40mg of atorvastatin (Lipitor); I’m pre-diabetic (A1C = 5.7-6.0),but my glucose readings have increased by 10-15% since starting the Lipitor. I am thinking about decreasing to 10mg of Lipotor and adding Cholestoff Plus, which I was using before I had the stent placed.

I got my LDL down to 93 on Cholestoff,and it’s 54 with the Lipitor. I do NOT Like the idea of getting pushed into Type II. It appears that statins actually encourage Type II – that is just crazy!

I have been taking atorvastatin 10mg for a few years. My blood sugar has always been normal when I’ve had blood chemistry check. In the last two years I have had my hgA1c checked at annual health screening. Last year it was 5.7. This year its was 6.0. I’m concerned about this rise and intend to discuss this with my doctor.

I had a heart attack in May 2004 and put on atorvastin.1 year LATER-2005, I was diagnosed with type2 diabetes,which has become increasingly difficult to control.
Until reading the information on this site,I was unaware of any connection between statins and diabetes.Thanks to you I will be talking to my doctor.
Barry Johnson 22nd October 2015.

I’m very angry too. I was always healthy and fit, but in 2012 my doctor prescribed 40mg atorvastatin (generic) for my cholesterol. Since I am over 50, I thought I should go ahead and take it. The doctor said it was safe. Several months later he told me that i had pre-diabetes and prescribed Metformin. I had muscle pain like I’ve never had before. And sometimes pass out after waking up in the morning. I would take about roughly 5 steps and drop to the floor like I was still asleep. I also visited a cardiologist for heart palpitations.

Then I saw the lawyers ad on TV about Lipitor causing diabetes. I immediately stopped both meds and felt better for the most part, although I still get severe muscle cramps once in awhile. And Walgreens told me that they don’t know which company they got the atorvastatin from. They get their generics from 5 different companies. Some are over seas in India and China, so I can’t sue for damages. At least that’s what I’ve been told so far. Pharmaceuticals SUUUUCK!!

I had a heart attack in May 2004,was put on atorvastin along with other drugs.I was not diagnosed with type 2 diabetes until about a year later-2005.I now take 40mg of statins every day and my diabetes is poorly controlled.
From what I have recently learned I feel very angry that at no time in the last10 years has any medical professional ever mentioned this connection between taking statins and getting type 2 diabetes.
I feel so angry that I am considering exploring legal action.Any advice would be welcome.

I am taking only 10 MG of Atvorvastatin. I had a heart attack 3 months ago and a triple bi-pass. I already had type 2 diabetes but managed to control it (5.3 A1C) with diet and excercise. The statin exhausts me so I began taking it when I went to bed. Upon rising in the am my Blood glucose was suddenly in the high 140-150s. I then took it 3 hours before bed and took my blood glucose once an hour. Hour 1 it was 148. It had been 96 before I took it. Hour 2 it went to 172 and hour 3 it was 158. I went to bed and upon rising it was 132 before breakfast. My Dr just ok my A1C and it was 6.5. I keep it well below 100 most of the day but it is completely uncontrolled at night.

Try this for the overnight sugar spikes (I found it online, and it works for me):

Mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a 1/2 glass of water along with one 600mg Fenugreek capsule shortly before bed time. Eat 1 oz of cheese (a low fat cheese stick works). Then, do 3 minutes of fast paced aerobic exercise – I do three quick minutes on an aerobic stair step platform.

I sleep better, and my fasting blood glucose is much more under control when I wake in the morning. Choking down the apple cider vinegar mix is the hardest part of the routine. :-)

Here’s a link to a study that got me started (and I modified my routine based on other research).

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/11/2814.full

I am 58 yr.old female with no history of diabetes in my family. Been taking 80mg pravastatin for about 3yrs & now am pre-diabetic.
No history of heart disease or stroke(so far). I am reading & hearing this risk an I am very angry w the medical community. My Dr. insists I stay on cholesterol meds regardless of the pre-diabetes.
I am tossing the statins & won’t have them making another dime from me. I am not overweight nor is my diet bad. I never have sugar & constantly watch my carbs & have done this for yrs. It is definitely the statins causing this.

I am a 61 year old man in otherwise good health. My glucose and A1C have been on a relentless march upward ever since my doctor started me on low dose simvastatin. I started doing some research prior to my last Dr. visit, when he actually increased me to a higher statin dosage (even though my cholesterol was very much within normal ranges), and changed me from atorvastatin to rosuvastatin. He told me that high dosage was indicated with diabetes – even showed me a chart!

Anyway, I had lab work done a week ago, and glucose is way up and A1C was up almost a point. I work with a dietician to manage my diet, I exercise daily, and am not obese. The more research I do, the more I’m convinced that the statins are the cause. The multiple studies that have come out this year are not a fluke.

I am 50 and I never had high blood sugar, but I do have high cholesterol and have had for over 30 years. I was put on Zocor and my normal blood sugars went from 85 to over 100. The doctor says type 2 is hereditary. My mom is 89 and has normal blood sugar levels, and my dad died in his late 80’s and had normal blood sugar levels. In fact, nobody in my family has had diabetes. I am normal weight.

I’ve discovered this link on my own. I’m a numbers person – I pay attention. I noted a relatively sharp increase in blood glucose levels when I started taking Simvastatin more than five years ago. I asked my doctor and he stated “the drug does more good than harm, keep taking it”. Now, he asks that I switch to Atorvastatin. Hmm. my morning FBG levels were on the rise (145ish). Accidentally I have forgotten to take my bedtime Simvastatin for 4 to 5 nights. For the last 4 mornings, my levels are all in the 120s, today 118. Haven’t seen these numbers in awhile now.

My conclusion:
Pretty much obvious that elevated glucose is harmful. I plan to resume tonight taking the Simvastatin for 7 nights followed by a morning fbg reading. If my suspicions prove out, I will at the very least cut in half my Simvastatin. Possibly lose it all together.

I took simvastatin for 10 years. I was diagnosed as prediabetic after just 1 year and developed Type 2 diabetes after 4. As my cholesterol levels came down, my A1c went up, yet my doctor continued to INCREASE my simvastatin dosage, up to 80 mg. At that point, I was completely unable to control my blood sugars and had to start insulin injections. I developed severe leg pains, had difficulty concentrating, felt old and weak, and started stumbling when I walked.
With the help and support of my chiropractor, I stopped taking simvastatin 18 months ago. As expected, my cholesterol levels went up (264). I now take herbal supplements, including Cholest-Off, vitamin D, fish oil, and turmeric, and my cholesterol is steadily coming down. I am no longer exhausted and in pain, and the best part is that my blood sugar is now under excellent control!
One surprising development-my doctor is insistant that I try a different statin and has even enlisted the clinic’s pharmacist in calling and trying to persuade me-4 times just this year! I would rather die of a heart attack than take statins and live with blindness, amputations, and kidney dialysis.

I have been on statin drugs for13 years. First Lipitor then Crestor. The Lipitor started making my leg muscles hurt so badly after about 5 years that I was switched to Crestor. Also my blood sugar level started to go up to the pre diabetic numbers.
The Crestor also gave me leg cramps at night so I decided on my own to take it every 4 days and watch my diet and exercise. The exercise helps a lot with the blood sugar problem. If I do not exercise and take the Crestor every three days, twice, here comes the leg cramps and the blood sugar , when checked, will be higher on a normal meal that has a carbohydrate in it. It seems that exercise and eliminating carbs especially after 5:00 PM, along with taking Crestor every 4 days, is the answer. There is no history of diabetes in my family either. Neither my parents nor grandparents took statin drugs either.

Thank you very much for bringing this study to my attention.

I worked in a medical school for 8 years and still have some contacts after 30+ years. Please, please, please… don’t believe doctors know everything. They are people!

My husband is now on two types of diabetes medicine. He was never diabetic but was prescribe Lipitor about 7 years ago. He started to have high sugar levels and I Googled this finding only a small amount of information. I have told him repeatedly that he should go off this and that the link was with the statin drug, but two doctors have said no and kept him on everything. It’s very frustrating…he is not overweight and if anything, looks too slim because of the diabetes medications.

My husband was diagnosed with Type 2 DM in September 2014. His A1C was 10.4 which worked out to be an average daily glucose level of 252. Since then he has been started on Simvastatin, Lipitor, and Glucophage. He takes 850mg Glucophage 2x daily. His diet has improved greatly since diagnosis. I have noticed his fasting BG in the morning (random checks) is around 240, which seems really wrong considering. I am an RN and have been stumped by this. Reading your article makes me wonder about a link. We will certainly be conversing about this with our physician.

Skip, you should never dump drugs down the toilet or in any other water source. Drugs have become a problem in our water.

Admittedly I’ve been on a small dose of simvastatin for a long time, even though I have type 2 diabetes (both my parents had it also). I recently completed a 10 day sugar detox and while on it I watched my blood glucose (I test 3 times a day) and blood pressure drop greatly. I did not alter my medications while on the detox. Upon coming off the 10 day regimen I watched a slow increase in both blood glucose and blood pressure (tested 4 x a day), but not to where it was at the beginning of the detox. When I met with my physician and reported my findings, he encouraged me to keep up the good work and allowed me to experiment with decreasing the dosages of my medication by cutting my prescription meds in half (which I will do eventually and record my findings).

I’ve been on satins for years including Lipitor and now Crestor. I’ve been changed from one statin to another over the years because of leg cramps.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My blood glucose is above 7 [HbA1c] even though my blood sugar tests pretty good…anywhere from the 90’s to the 130’s. It goes up to the high 190’s to high 200’s if I have a cocktail or sugary desserts but that’s rare.

My GP wants to put me on Metformin for treatment of the diabetes and I have refused because of the side effects associated with that drug. I’ve been arguing my case with my cardiologist for some time and am about to demand to be taken off of Statins. I don’t know if my glucose can be reversed to normal levels now
or if it’s too late.

When my daughter was nearly 18 her physician decided that she needed to add a cholesterol lowering drug to her diabetes medications (type 2). I said absolutely not, she needed to be working on her diet not taking more drugs. Since then, she went through a period without insurance, stopped taking all prescriptions, worked on her diet, and started a cinnamon supplement. She finally stopped gaining weight, in fact, losing some, lost the drastic mood swings and feels pretty healthy. I can’t imagine where she would be if she had continued on the drugs and added a statin as well.

My husbands’ doctor said to him, “it isn’t if you get diabetes, it is when will you get it.” He told him this after prescribing Lipitor for cholesterol. But I looked up the side effects and one of them was that it raises the risks for diabetes. My husband did not have the script filled. The doctor got angry. I think the doctors all know the side effects of this drug, but keep up sick and we keep coming back. We are nothing but a paycheck. They cure nobody, just treat people with drugs.

I hate atorvastatin, but, my cholesterol is through the roof without it…but, my blood sugar is climbing….I also cannot follow most diets, as I have had my colon removed. (I’m screwed)

I am also interested in the red yeast rice and pre-diabetes relationship. I have been taking red yeast rice for 8 years, and it has kept my cholesterol level below 200 with HDL below 50 – but my fasting blood sugar has risen gradually to 102 and HgA1C now at 5.7.
Any comments on? Seems that if one takes a “statin” even if it is non prescription, the same result….

I am a 60 year old man with elevated cholesterol and blood sugars and have taken atorvastatin and simvastatin for so long I can not recall when I started. I have always had high blood sugar levels and now I wonder if it was caused by my cholesterol lowering drug.

In addition, I have had the back-of-the-throat cough or tickle and have suffered from partial erectile dysfunction for many years. I have recently stopped taking atorvastatin and my sexual libido has returned somewhat.

1 year after starting statins, my doctor told me I was starting to become a type 2 diabetic. At 1 1/2 years I became one. I am 5′ 4″, 125 lbs and every script test for the likely hood that I would become a diabetic said I didn’t have to worry about it.

I’ve been on 10 mg. of atorvastatin since the late ’90s. Before starting, my total cholesterol was up to 395, as my mother’s was before she went on a statin. My total since taking it has been between 220 and 245, and my HDL/LDL ratio is good. For the last few years I’ve decreased to 10 mg. every other day, with my doctor’s permission. So far, so good as far as blood sugar, but I’d love to get off it entirely if I could. It’s the only systemic medication I take regularly, at age 70.

Joan, only you and your doctor can answer if you should stop taking your medication. A discussion of the risks and benefits of your medication would be a good idea. This will lead you to the newest recommendations on treating high cholesterol: http://tools.cardiosource.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator/. Consider that the risk of developing diabetes due to taking this medication is a low risk.

After experiencing some of the symptoms of on-coming diabetes such as night sweats, fatigue, dizziness, etc , my internist began to check blood sugar often. The tests would show I was borderline hyperglycemic, but not diabetic. Having experienced too often “brain fog” and cognitive difficulties, along with some joint aches, I unilaterally took myself off Crestor.

Since then all of the above symptoms have gone away. My internist felt that the .5 mg dose was low enough not to worry about and cautioned me against going off the medication. Cholesterol levels are a bit higher than desired (214 overall with slightly elevated LDL) but there is no way I am going back on the meds. I am also sleeping much better since going off Crestor, although I do not know for certain that was a causative factor since I have also gone off blood pressure medicine (at my cardiologist’s recommendation).

I have been taking Atorvastatin for many years, not sure how long (now only taking 10 mg daily). I stopped for a while because of body aches and reduced it to 5 mg. I wanted to stop this med but he said to take the 5 mg that it would help me. My cholesterol was running around 220, (now 127) LDL around 60 (which is good) and my HDL has been running lower than 50, around 43 and my doctor wants that number higher.

My blood sugar has steadily been rising and now 109 and my HGB AlC is 6.3 which is high. Not on any meds for Blood Sugar yet but I’m sure the doctor will do something on the next visit. I have taken steroid shots and I know that increased the blood sugar. I feel like I am in a “catch 22”.

Nancy, Some benefit from the different way Pravachol (pravastatin) is eliminated from the body and because of this do not have body aches. Your HGB A1c suggests pre-diabetes. In simple search I see that steroid shots typically only raise blood glucose for several days. While I may be parroting your doctor’s advice consider more extreme measures for weight and diet control. Metformin is often prescribed for pre-diabetes as it reduces blood glucose and does not cause weight gain. Consider asking for the ER type as it is better tolerated.

I started on 80 mg of Zocor [simvastatin] at 75. I had a rash and the doctor dropped it to 40mg. My Hemoglobin A1c went to 6.4 and he wanted to put me on type 2 diabetes medication. I told him to wait until my next visit.

I stopped taking the Zocor and my A1c went to 5.4, I also lost 25lbs. My kidney function went from 30 to 51. I have been off it for 8 months now and never felt better.

I have been taking statins for years, first Lipitor and then (and now) Crestor. I developed diabetes, the only person in my family that has ever had it. I also have very little muscle strength. Of course my doctor insists that the statins have nothing to do with either one.

I did try going off the Lipitor for six months several years ago, and my cholesterol went up to 250.

Has similar research been done with red yeast rice? My MD has had me on red yeast rice for a number of years, and despite my not eating much sugar nor refined flour, my blood sugar is higher than seems reasonable (though not to the point of diabetes).

Debbie, Red yeast rice is not a pharmaceutical, but it contains the same active ingredient as Mevacor (lovastatin). Red yeast rice can cause an increase in blood sugar.

I have always eaten most anything I’ve wanted. I started 5mg Crestor about 5 years ago. My check up last year showed a fasting blood glucose level of 115. It was repeated and was virtually the same. My A1c was less than 5. I have decreased my Crestor to 5mg every other day to see how it affects things.

My cholesterol had been rising over the years but I didn’t want to go on statins. I heard about the supplement Red Yeast Rice and have been taking 600mg of extended release tablets (1 nightly) for about two years. Since then, my cholesterol levels have gone down and are under control. I read the FDA is trying to change the classification of red yeast rice to prescription status. What do you know about this supplement, it’s effectiveness, as well as any down-sides?

Several years ago my primary care doctor started me on statins. There was a marked drop in my cholesterol numbers but after about 6 months the muscle pain and weakness began. I was assured that it could not be the statins.
Each subsequent blood test showed only minor drops in the cholesterol numbers but also a rise in my blood sugar. This continued until I was informed that I was borderline diabetic.
The pain and weakness continued until I informed my doctor that I would not take the statins (he tried me on 3 of them ) and that I thought it much preferable to die quickly from a heart attack than rather waste away in pain. Need less to say he was taken aback.
It was shortly after this that you had Dr. Stephen Sinatra on your program (The Great Cholesterol Myth). What he said made a lot of sense so I suggested to my oldest daughter, an RN, that his book would make a great Christmas gift.
Long story short, I got the book, followed Dr. Sinatra’s advice and cholesterol is now half what it was and the blood sugar is now back in the normal range, mental alertness has improved and I can actually do stuff again.
And my doctor still has a hard time believing that I did it without drugs.
Many, many thanks for having a wonderful program like the Peoples Pharmacy

My husband and I take Red Yeast Rice. His family has a history of diabetes. Does Red Yeast Rice put him at the same kind of risk as pharmaceutical statins?

Sandy, Yes the active compound in Red yeast rice is identical to Mevacor (lovastatin).

This article is very good. I am pleased to have read it. I take 20 mg simvastatin and have a blood glucose level of about 100. I have no luck in lowering the level although I try hard to watch what I eat. I will talk to my doctor soon. I am 77 and have had no health problems to date. I walk often. I, also, swim a mile 3 times a week.
Thank You for all your good articles. I, also, believe in yellow mustard for all my aches and pains, etc. It is fantastic to eat a tablespoon and chase it with water.

6 years ago I was put on Atorvastatin for moderately high (220) Cholesterol in spite of having excellent LDL?HDL numbers. I had issues from the start with muscle aches but I stuck it out because my GP thought it was important to stay on the drugs. 5 years later I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and have been on Insulin to control it for the past year. I am 55, a runner and a non-red meat eater for most of my life.

I asked my GP about stopping the Atorvastatin and he said that he would take me off in a second if I didn’t have Diabetes but that with Diabetes I needed to stay on it. Seems like a bit of a Catch-22. Have there been any studies of stopping Cholesterol meds and seeing positive changes in glucose numbers or has the damage been done?

Maybe your GP needs to review the minimal benefits and high level of risk with statin drugs.

Or find a doctor who is willing to check it out.

For 10-11 years letting doctors give me any scripts They thought I needed, like 80mg daily of Lipitor, I had all sorts of side effects including above, never really lowered my cholesterol, very low or none CO Q-10, badly lowered my Testosterone levels (this I found out after plenty of reasearch on Google and talks with my pharmacy but this T issue Also was caused much worse because of antidepressants and bipolar meds that were also given me). When I woke up to the medical field giving me drugs that most had very bad side effects, down the toilet they all went, doctors were all told, many that I “fired” and now only use drugs I do research on before taking anything they give me now. When I dropped statin (mostly Lipitor but over 11 years I also tried all the rest) and when I changed to Omega-3, now really both an OTC supplement Or covered by most insurance and an FDA approved drug (4,000mg daily with a doctors script) and Niaspan ER (1,000 to 2,000mg and No higher), all my bad cholesterol tests were perfect in just months (6-12) and for one example, I went from around 290 with Try level all the way down to a perfect 52 and now with above dosage (now only 1,000mg of Niaspan ER also a vitamin called B-3) and for around 4-5 years now all my cholesterol levels are perfect so statins are bad for you but replace that with the above supplement and vitamin, you get all the results you are looking for with No Statin drug side effects, and there are many.

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