This story from the New York Times describes the results of new research on statin drugs. The emphasis seems to focus on why it is important to discount the diabetes link, which this study involving 32,752 patients and a study published in 2010 analyzing 90,000 patients have uncovered. Statin drugs, which are designed to lower cholesterol levels, are big business in the United States. Since stopping these drugs can be dangerous, people taking a statin must work with their MD on any reduction. But before starting, consider trying some of the safer, natural alterantives first.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, which have been shown to lower a person’s risk for heart attack, can also slightly increase a patient’s risk for developing diabetes, particularly at higher doses, new research shows.
The findings, based on new analyses of five clinical trials involving 32,752 patients, raise new questions about how much we really know about the long-term effects of statins, which are the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States. The focus on the link between statins and diabetes comes at a time when some medical experts and pharmaceutical companies have pushed to broaden the use of the drugs beyond the 40 million at-risk patients who already use them to healthy people who would take the drugs for prevention of heart disease.
Doctors cautioned that patients should not overreact to the diabetes news, saying that the increased diabetes risk is very small, and that the benefits of statin therapy still far outweigh any side effects.
“I don’t think it’s very clinically important,’’ said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, who consults with drug companies that make statins but requires his fees be donated to charity. “What I worry about here is that people will read this story and say, ‘I don’t want to get diabetes so I’m going to stop my statin,’ and then they have a heart attack.’’
Last year, the medical journal The Lancet published an analysis of major statin trials involving 90,000 patients that showed statin users had a 9 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those who didn’t take statins. But questions remained about whether the effect was real or something that may have just been due to chance.
However, the latest analysis, published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association, makes the strongest case yet that statins can trigger diabetes in some people. The report focused on differences in diabetes risk among moderate-dose and high-dose statin users, and found that those taking high doses had a 12 percent higher risk of developing diabetes compared to moderate-dose users. That translates to a 20 percent overall increased risk of diabetes for high-dose statin users, compared to those who don’t take the drugs, according to the study’s senior author.
Read more from the original article: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/21/cholesterol-drugs-linked-with-diabetes-risk/