Healthy people taking heart drug statins are a lot more at risk of suffering a serious case of diabetes, with a high risk of severe diabetic complications, a new study has discovered.
Research tracked 3,982 users of statins – drugs that lower your body’s cholesterol level – and 21,988 non users over a decade. It was found that those who used the medication had a higher rate of diabetes, twice as likely as those not using, along with weight gain. On top of this, patients taking statins were more than 250 per cent likely to have complications such as kidney, eye and nerve damage.
This link between the two had never been shown before until the research was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, according to study leader Professor Ishak Mansi of the University of Texas.
“The risk of diabetes with statins has been known, but until now it was thought that this might be due to the fact that people who were prescribed statins had greater medical risks to begin with,” he said in a statement, adding to Britain’s The Express newspaper that the results are “alarming”.
Statins are taken to lower the risk of heart disease, but the heart specialist believes they may be doing more harm than good: “I am sceptical about the prescribing guidelines for people at lower risk (of heart disease). I am concerned about the long term effects on the huge population of healthy people on these drugs who continue for many years.”
That’s not to say people should shun statins because of these findings though. Mansi notes that the results should help people be more wary of their lifestyle, for example focusing on exercise, healthy eating or quitting smoking to ensure diabetes isn’t diagnosed.
Alvin C Powers, diabetes specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, agrees that findings should advise and warn people to keep healthy.