Diabetes risk higher due to statin use

Statins, basically cholesterol-lowering drugs are thought to increase the risk of diabetes in people taking them frequently.

The risk of diabetes was the greatest in people who maintained a frequent intake of atorvastatin, rosuvastatin and simavastatin, the study claims.

Researchers in Canada, who carried out the study which recruited around 500,000 Ontario residents, reveal a whopping 22 percent increased risk of suffering from diabetes among people taking Lipitor.

Following this, Crestor users had an 18 percent higher risk of getting affected by diabetes, whereas people taking Zocor had a 10 percent additional risk of suffering from the condition.

"While this is an important study evaluating the relationship between statins and the risk of diabetes, the study has several flaws that make it difficult to generalize the results," Dr. Dara Cohen, a professor of medicine in the department of endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said. "There was no data regarding weight, ethnicity and family history -- all important risk factors for the development of diabetes."

Since the study does not clearly explain how exactly the use of statins causes an elevated risk of diabetes, it may be too early to make decisions, experts say.

"The overall benefit of statins still clearly outweighs the potential risk of incident diabetes," researchers from the University of Turku said. Statins have been proven to reduce heart problems, they said, adding that the medications "play an important role in treatment.

Also, Finnish doctors suggest that the risk of diabetes should not stop people from taking statins, mostly because in general, the benefits associated with the use of statins far outweigh the risk associated with its use.

Statins, which are usually prescribed to patients suffering from different cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease and also generally used to lower elevated blood cholesterol levels, may require proper labeling regarding the health risks they pose, now that this study emphasizes so.

Funded by the Drug Innovation Fund of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, this study is now published online on bmj.com

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