Do you take statins? It may up risk of diabetes
A study has recently warned that long term use of cholesterol-lowering drug, statin, is linked to a 30% increase in risk of developing Type-2 diabetes in susceptible individuals.

The findings indicated that taking a statin was associated with a 36% heightened risk of subsequently being diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes, compared to those who had not been prescribed these drugs. Earlier studies said that statins could boost heart function but could also speed up onset of Parkinson’s disease.

This risk fell slightly to 30% after taking account of the clinical criteria used to determine the need for statin treatment. The findings held true irrespective of the criteria used to determine the need for treatment, suggesting that these factors were not major contributors to diabetes risk.

The team analysed 3,234 participants in the US Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS). This is a long-term follow-up study to a randomised clinical trial which looked at whether modest weight loss through lifestyle changes or treatment with metformin could reduce or delay development of type 2 diabetes in people at high risk.

The participants were given standard advice on healthy eating and exercise and were randomly assigned to either an intensive lifestyle programme, treatment with metformin, or a dummy drug (placebo). At the end of the trial, they were invited to take part in DPPOS, during which their blood fats and blood pressure were measured annually. Blood glucose was measured twice a year, at which point new statin treatment was recorded.

The most commonly prescribed statins were simvastatin (40%) and atorvastatin (37%). The likelihood of a prescription rose substantially after a diagnosis of diabetes. Although, those who were prescribed statins had slightly higher levels of blood glucose to start with, this still didn’t explain their higher rates of diabetes.

The researchers pointed to some experimental research suggesting that statins may impair the production of insulin, the hormone needed to lower the body’s levels of blood glucose. The research appears online in journal of BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.