A US study has linked the cholesterol-lowering drug statin to a heightened risk of type 2 diabetes among patients already deemed to be at high risk of the condition.
Published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, the study looked at data from 3,234 overweight or obese participants taking part in the US Diabetes Prevention Programme Outcomes Study.
After 10 years follow-up, a third of patients had started using statins. Researchers found that taking the drugs was associated with a 36% heightened risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, compared to those who had not been prescribed.
“This study indicates that statins can increase the onset of diabetes in some people,” said Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation.
“However, it does not mean that people should stop taking their statins as there is no doubt they save lives. Instead, the findings reinforce the need to regularly monitor the blood sugar levels of patients taking statins.”
In a separate study, British researchers found a “significant” number of patients prescribed statins only had a small chance of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)
The report, published in the British Journal of General Practice, found a “significant over-treatment” of statin therapy with patients who had less than 10% chance of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years.
Tracking statin prescribing between 2000 and 2015, researchers from the University of Birmingham looked at 1.4 million patients aged over 40 across 248 GP practices across England and Wales.