By: Kennedy Shelley
This common drug may be quietly putting you at risk of type 2 diabetes.
While this study does not show that the statins cause diabetes, the study of the health records of thousands of patients shows that statin users were twice as likely to become diabetic when they are using them as the rest of the population.
They also showed that statin users were also more likely to have high A1c levels which show blood glucose levels over time. Many people with high A1c’s may not be diagnosed as diabetic but are showing the first signs of metabolic syndrome.
(To find out more about the dangers of metabolic syndrome and why you should know about it, see this article in FHN.)
There also seemed to be a link to the length of time you took the statin and your risk of diabetes. Those who took the drugs for more than two years, tripled their risk.
This study looked at the health records of 4683 people taking statins 2011 to 2014. None had diabetes at the start of the study.
But by 2014, 16% or 755 were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
And this was after they normalized the study for weight, BMI and waist sizes. They also looked at age, education and other cofounders of risk for diabetes.
So, you can’t blame it on a skewed sample. The only difference between those who got diabetes and those that didn’t, was the statins.
While this is not on the same level of magnitude where smokers are 15-30% more likely to get cancer than non-smokers, it is still very high and certainly could cause some concern.
This study also has to be weighed by the risk benefit of the statins. Certain high-risk groups have a much higher risk of dying of heart attack or stroke without the statins.
But several studies have suggested that the widespread use of statins for low risk patients was dangerous because it put people at risk of serious side effects with very little potential benefit.
Strangely, having type 2 diabetes, or metabolic syndrome puts you in the high-risk group.
Certain statin drugs like Crestor have been shown to be highly effective at lowering heart attack risk of those with normal cholesterol numbers because that drug seems to decrease coronary inflammation.
This gets back to an ongoing debate in medicine, what is the cause of heart attacks and strokes? Cholesterol or arterial inflammation caused by high insulin levels?
The debate is vitally important to millions of Americans.
Doctors noticed that nearly half of the people who died of fatal heart attacks have normal or below normal cholesterol.
This caused a great deal of discussion in the medical community if we were not following the wrong biomarker.
In other words, if we were only treating those with high cholesterol as the only people in danger of a heart attack, we were missing half, and probably the root cause of the problem.
The JUPITER trial showed that Crestor worked for those at high risk for heart attack, but low cholesterol. The results were reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The conclusion was that the anti-inflammatory effects of Crestor and not the cholesterol lowering effects was actually the lifesaving action.
Unfortunately, this study did not show which statins were being used which may be causing the higher rates of type 2 diabetes, nor nothing was known about the diet and lifestyle of the people who developed the disease.
In short, this study is not a reason to stop taking a statin, but if you are on it, you should insist to your doctor that you get your A1c level checked during your next blood test.