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Statin Use and Diabetes Risk

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Statins are a kind of drug prescribed to people with high levels of LDL or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The drugs function by hindering a substance required to produce LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the liver.

As it moves through the blood, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol deposits fatty particles in the brain and heart’s arterial walls. Over time, accumulation could cause a blockage that can result in a stroke or heart attack.

While they’ve been in use for over 25years, the FDA advised consumers and medical providers that their use might increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Here’s what research reveals about the link between statin use and diabetes.

Functions of Statins

Statins help reduce LDL cholesterol thereby lowering your likelihood of heart attack and stroke. Moreover, they help decrease inflammation, enhance the health of the blood vessel lining, and decrease the likelihood of blood clots.

Type 2 Diabetes

This disorder affects the amount of insulin your body produces, how the body uses it or both. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and released after the body breaks down food into glucose.

The hormone aids the transportation of glucose from the blood into the body’s cells where it’s stored or used for energy. Patients with this disorder can’t produce sufficient insulin or use the produced insulin properly, resulting in high levels of blood sugar.

The Link between Statins and Diabetes Type 2

Statins are one of the most extensively prescribed kinds of drugs in the U.S. Between 2011 and 2012, more than ¼ of American adults aged over 40 were using cholesterol-lowering medication. The majority of the drugs were statins.

The evidence is increasing that long-term use of statins could increase the likelihood of type2 diabetes, which is more likely to develop in persons who are physically inactive and overweight.

Between 2008 and now, numerous meta-analyses have taken place, with some adding evidence supporting a connection between statin and type 2 diabetes. Others, however, have questioned such a link. Consequently, a definitive answer is yet to emerge.


Researchers in the U.S. conducted a study in which slightly over 3,000 patients with high blood glucose levels and BMI participated. The participants were part of a broader study examining the impact of various interventions on preventing type 2 diabetes.

The patients underwent randomization to obtain an intensive lifestyle intervention, a placebo, or metformin. Patient follow-up took place for an average of 10 years and researchers discovered that patients who had begun using statins throughout the follow-up period had a 36% increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes in comparison to those who hadn’t.

The likelihood of developing the condition fell slightly when data control occurred for variables such as the levels of cholesterol and the use of antihypertensive drugs that drove the patient’s need for statin treatment, implying that these factors didn’t contribute considerably to the likelihood of diabetes.


While those with statin prescriptions had somewhat higher blood glucose levels, this didn’t elucidate their higher rates of diabetes.

Consequently, the researchers found no association between statin potency and the likelihood of diabetes. The team divided the statin data into high and low-potency statins in order to investigate the relationship further. They found no considerable difference between the risks in those groups.

The authors are quick to note the study’s shortfalls: it’s observational, so the cause and outcome can’t be teased apart. Moreover, statin prescriptions were dependent on a doctor’s evaluation and patients weren’t assigned randomly.

Lastly, information on statin dosage wasn’t accessible for analysis. In spite of these caveats, the authors assert that caution is necessary because these conclusions add to previous studies with comparable results. They recommend the monitoring of glucose status and reinforcement of healthy behaviors in patients with statin prescriptions for cardiovascular illness.

Benefits and Risks

The American Diabetes Association asserts that the advantages of statin use outweigh the likelihood of acquiring diabetes. Similarly, the American Heart Association proposes that there isn’t sufficient data to support the discontinuation of statin use for patients with type 2 diabetes. Ensure you consult your physician before discontinuing treatment.

The debate concerning the link between diabetes and statins is ongoing because diabetes and statin use is prevalent in the U.S. Therefore, it’s imperative to collect as much data as possible concerning any interactions. While additional studies are bound to follow, it might be some time before the debate can end.

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