Recent published research from St George’s, University of London and the University of Glasgow states that statins used to lower cholesterol levels have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes. However, the protection that the statins provide against heart attack and stroke far outweigh the risks involved.
The researchers found that individuals who take higher statin doses are much more likely to develop diabetes than those who take moderate doses. It is stated that individuals who take 80mg of either simvastatin or atorvastatin increases the patient’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 12% over a five year period, compared to a moderate dose of 40mg.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association covered approximately 33,000 people who are on high or moderate dose statins. This was done in five separate studies. None of these individuals had diabetes at the time.
Research indicated that for every 498 individuals who took higher dosage statins for 12 months, one extra person would develop diabetes compared to those who were on moderate doses. On the other hand, if the same group of people were to take high-dosage statins, this would prevent three more heart disease events than if they had taken moderate doses.
In view of this, an academic from Glasgow University, Dr David Preiss, stated that the cardiovascular benefits in individuals who are at high risk strongly favours statin therapy. This research complements a study which also involved Dr Preiss where it was found that individuals who take moderate doses of statins had an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared to them taking a sugar pill. The risk was increased by 9% over a four-year period. It is not clear as to how statins trigger diabetes in certain individuals.
A spokesman from the British Heart Foundation has said that nobody should terminate taking prescribed statins based on the results of this research. A spokesman from The Stroke Association suggests that every patient should undergo an assessment and should be treated on an individual basis. The risk of the patient developing diabetes due to taking statins should be weighed up against the possible risk of the patient suffering a stroke or heart attack.