WEDNESDAY, March 4, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may significantly increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study from Finland suggests.
Researchers found that statins were associated with an almost 50 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even after adjusting for other factors.
Statins appear to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in several ways, the researchers said. One is that the drugs can increase a person’s insulin resistance, and the other is that the cholesterol-lowering drugs seem to impair the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin, according to the report.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Ronald Goldberg, director of the Lipid Disorder Clinic and associate director of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami, said the researchers “show evidence that statins increased insulin resistance, and that the people who developed diabetes appeared to have less ability to respond to the insulin resistance by making more insulin.”
The study authors noted, however, that their research only found an association between statin use and diabetes risk. And since the study was limited to white men, it’s not clear if the findings would apply to women or other racial groups.
More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, a hormone needed to process the sugars found in foods. To compensate, the body produces more insulin. Excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle are two important risk factors for type 2 diabetes, according to the ADA.
Prior studies have indicated that statins may increase a person’s risk of diabetes, the authors said in background information in the study. However, these earlier studies were focused mainly on statins’ role in preventing heart disease, not on their potential diabetes risk.
In this new study, University of Eastern Finland researchers tracked the effects of statin treatment in almost 9,000 men without diabetes over the course of six years. The men were between 45 and 73 years old. One in four of the men was taking a statin at the beginning of the study.