Statins and diabetes

February 18, 2010 by  

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Some antidiabetes drugs are said to increase risk for cardiovascular disease. Can it also be true the other way around? That is what the JUPITER (short for Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin) study reported – that some statins may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs commonly prescribed for those who are a t risk for cardiovascular events.

A more recent meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Glasgow showed that indeed, statin users may be at risk for developing diabetes mellitus. However, it should be emphasized that the increase in risk is very slight, and doesn’t really outweigh the benefits of statins.

According to study investigator Dr David Preiss

“We found that there was indeed a risk of diabetes, about 9%, but it isn’t a worrying increase as had been suggested by other studies. Then again, it wasn’t a completely flat result. We did see something. Our message would be that people on statins should be those we think are at moderate to high cardiovascular risk in the future. If you look at that group of patients, then what we really want to see come out of the study is a reassuring message, because there is little question that the protective effects in reducing heart attacks, strokes, and so on heavily outweigh this risk of developing diabetes.”

Health experts who were not part of the study are appreciative of how the authors carefully worded their findings so as not to create panic among statin users. They are that the media would the same and be objective about what they report. Statins are the bestsellers of many pharmaceutical firms so it’s no wonder that statin-bashing is a favorite pastime of many.

According to Dr Richard Karas of Tufts Medical Center in Boston who was involved in the meta-analysis study:

“This is another opportunity for the media to really scare the pants off people, and I think their findings are very carefully worded—there is a statistically significant but slight increase in the risk of diabetes. It’s a provocative finding, but it’s also of modest strength because it’s information culled from studies not designed to answer this question.”

Statins are drugs designed to lower LDL-cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk for heart attacks and stroke. The majority of experts agree that the benefits of statins exceed the slight risk of diabetes. Clinicians are advised not to drastically change clinical practice based on these findings alone.

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