New research suggest that patients who use statins, medications frequently used to lower cholesterol, have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to Medical News Today, this association has been reported in the past. However, the authors of the current study say that the previous studies had a number of limitations. The recent study, published in Diabetologia, was led by Prof. Markku Laakso of the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital in Finland. He and his colleagues found a significantly increased risk with statin use, even after accounting for other factors.
Laakso and his colleagues point out that previous studies were often limited by a selective population, such as individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Because of this, the findings may not be applicable to the general population. Additionally, the authors say that most of the past studies identified diabetes through self-reporting or fasting glucose measurements, which may underestimate the actual incidence of the disease.
To study the effect of statin use on diabetes, the authors gathered data on 8,740 nondiabetic Caucasian men between the ages of 45 and 73 who were part of the Finland-based Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) study. A total of 625 men at 5.9 year follow-up were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. A diabetes diagnosis was determined if an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) showed an HbA1c level of at least 6.5 percent or with the commencement of antidiabetic medication.
Researchers found a 46 percent increased risk of diabetes among men who used statins compared to those who did not. Even after accounting for other factors, including age, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol intake, family history of diabetes and treatment with beta-blockers and diuretic medications, the risk remained. Findings also showed that men treated with statins were found to have a 24 percent reduction in insulin sensitivity during follow-up.
Two statins, simvastatin atorvastatin, were found to have a dose-dependent risk as well as dose-dependent reductions in insulin sensitivity and insulin secretions. High-dose simvastatin was associated with a 44 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes and a lower dose was linked to a 28 percent increased risk after adjusting for other factors. High-dose atorvastatin was linked to a 37 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Atorvastatin users accounted for 53 percent of participants, while simvastatin users made up 29 percent.