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Statins elevate risk of diabetes by 46%

Use of statins can increase the risk of developing diabetes by 46 percent, even after adjustment for confounding factors, claims a new study.

Washington: Use of statins can increase the risk of developing diabetes by 46 percent, even after adjustment for confounding factors, claims a new study.

The study by Professor Markku Laakso at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, Finland, and colleagues looked into the effects of statin treatment on the risk of type 2 diabetes and deterioration of blood sugar control in 8,749 non-diabetic men in a 6-year follow-up of the population-based Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) study, based in Kuopio, Finland. The authors also investigated the mechanisms of statin-induced diabetes by evaluating changes in insulin resistance and insulin secretion.

The participants, aged 45-73 years, were followed up for 5.9 years. New diabetes was diagnosed in 625 men with either an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), an HbA1c level of 6.5 percent or higher, or anti-diabetic medication started during the follow-up. Insulin sensitivity and secretion were evaluated.

The researchers found that, after the results were adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, physical activity, smoking, alcohol intake, family history of diabetes, and beta-blocker and diuretic treatment, patients treated with statins were 46 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those not treated with statins.

The risk was dose-dependent for simvastatin and atorvastatin. Statin treatment significantly increased 2-h glucose (2hPG) at follow-up, with a nominally significant increase in fasting glucose (FPG). Insulin sensitivity was decreased by 24 percent and insulin secretion by 12 percent in individuals on statin treatment.

Furthermore, decreases in insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion were dose-dependent for simvastatin and atorvastatin. And, after adjustment for all the confounders mentioned above, high-dose simvastatin was associated with a 44 percent increased risk of developing diabetes, while for low-dose simvastatin the increased risk was 28 percent and for high-dose atorvastatin the increased risk was 37 percent. Overall, 29 percent of participants were taking simvastatin, while 53 percent were taking atorvastatin.

In addition to this, the researchers stressed that while the size of the study makes their conclusions reliable, the study sample was Caucasian men, so the applicability to women or people of other ethnic origin cannot be confirmed without further research.

The study is published in Diabetologia.

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