“Statins increase risk of diabetes, but benefits are still worth it, say experts”.
A large study found the medication lead to a modest increase in weight and subsequent diabetes risk. The authors report that these risks were more than offset by the reduction in cardiovascular disease, but these results were not provided in the study.
The study involved nearly 130,000 people, which found that statin use (used to lower cholesterol levels) increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 12% and is associated with weight gain of around quarter of a kilo (half a pound) over four years.
It found indirect evidence that the protein statins target to reduce cholesterol could be at least partly responsible for the effect on type 2 diabetes as well. This evidence was based on looking at the effect of natural genetic variations that affect the protein, and not on a direct analysis of the effect of statins.
Importantly, the authors themselves note that this “should not alter present guidance on prescription of statins for prevention of [CVD]”. They do suggest that lifestyle changes, such as exercise, should be emphasised as still being an important part of heart disease prevention in people who are taking statins. This seems reasonable, and it is likely to be part of what doctors already recommend.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal