A new study finds the use of statins — drugs that are commonly used to lower cholesterol — may significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, and this risk remains even after accounting for confounding factors, including age, smoking status and body mass index.
The link between statin use and higher risk of diabetes is not new. Back in 2013, scientists found that certain statins raised the risk of diabetes by up to 22 percent. But according to the researchers of this latest study – Prof. Markku Laakso of the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Eastern Finland such studies have had numerous limitations.
Many of these studies have included selective populations, such as those at high risk of cardiovascular disease. For their study, Prof. Laakso and colleagues analyzed the effects of statin use on 8,749 non-diabetic men aged 45-73 years who were part of the Finland-based Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) study.
The results of the analysis revealed that men who were treated with statins were at 46 percent higher risk of diabetes than men who were not treated with statins. This 46 percent increased diabetes risk was present even after adjusting for the men's age, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, physical activity levels, smoking status, family history of diabetes and treatment with beta-blockers and diuretic medications.
The researchers also assessed changes in insulin resistance and insulin secretion among men who were treated with statins. They found that statins led to a 24 percent reduction in insulin sensitivity during follow-up, as well as a 12 percent reduction in insulin secretion.