JUN 25, 2019 11:16 AM PDT

Cholesterol Medication May Double Type 2 Diabetes Risk

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

A research study examining thousands of patient’s health records found an association between prescribed cholesterol-lowering statins and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. "The fact that increased duration of statin use was associated with an increased risk of diabetes -- something we call a dose-dependent relationship -- makes us think that this is likely a causal relationship," said Victoria Zigmont, who led the study as a graduate student in public health at The Ohio State University.

Retrieved from Ohio State University: Ohio State research found a higher risk of diabetes for people prescribed a cholesterol-lowering medication for heart disease prevention

Findings were published in Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews, and examined data from 4,683 patients who did not have diabetes and were candidates for statins. Results showed that statin use has in fact doubled the risk of Type 2 diabetes in comparison to those who did not take statin. Risk was even three times higher for those on statin therapy for more than two years.

"In addition, researchers conducting large prospective cohort studies should be considering how statins impact human health overall. They should consider both risks and benefits, not just the disease that is being treated by the specific drug," said co-author Steven Clinton, a professor of medicine and member of Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Statins are a class of drugs that treat patients at risk for a heart attack and stroke by reducing their cholesterol and blood pressure. According to federal estimates, more than 25 percent of middle-aged adults are prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs.

"That said, statins are very effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes. I would never recommend that people stop taking the statin they've been prescribed based on this study, but it should open up further discussions about diabetes prevention and patient and provider awareness of the issue,” said Zigmont.

Learn more about statin therapy:

Source: Ohio State University

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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