The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that individuals who take Lipitor (atorvastatin) to lower their cholesterol may have a higher risk of type-2 diabetes. Recent studies have found that the risk of Lipitor and type-2 diabetes is especially high for post-menopausal women and people with other risk-factors for diabetes.
Lipitor Raises Risk of Type-2 Diabetes
Cholesterol lowering medications in the statin class, including Lipitor (atorvastatin), are popular for reducing the levels of dangerous Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol.” Studies have shown that this also reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients who already have cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, recent studies have also raised serious concerns about Lipitor and type-2 diabetes. A new study confirms that Lipitor can increase blood-sugar levels, which may also increase the risk of type-2 diabetes. The risk is particularly high among post-menopausal women and people who have other risk-factors for diabetes, such as:
- Post-menopausal women
- Problems controlling blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- High triglycerides in the blood
- Low daily activity levels
- Excess weight
- Family history of type-2 diabetes
- And more
50% Higher Risk of Type-2 Diabetes for Older Women on Lipitor
In January 2012, researchers from the University of Massachusetts published a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that found a 50% increased risk of type-2 diabetes among post-menopausal women who took Lipitor.
The researchers based their conclusions on data from more than 153,000 women who were an average of 63 years old. Type-2 diabetes occurred in 10% of the women taking a statin and 6.4% of women who did not take a statin during the study.
Study Finds that Lipitor Patients Develop Diabetes
In 2011, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology published a study that reviewed three large randomized clinical trials of Lipitor and type-2 diabetes. All three studies linked Lipitor to a higher risk of type-2 diabetes, especially at high doses:
- SPARCL Trial: New-onset of type-2 diabetes occurred in 8.71% of patients given 80-mg of Lipitor, and 6.06% of patients given a placebo.
- TNT Trial: New-onset of type-2 diabetes occurred in 9.24% of patients taking 80-mg Lipitor, and 8.11% of patients taking 10-mg Lipitor.
- IDEAL Trial: New-onset of type-2 diabetes occurred in 6.4% of patients given 80-mg of Lipitor, and 5.59% of patients given 20-mg simvastatin.
FDA Safety Warning for Lipitor and Type-2 Diabetes
In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the warnings on Lipitor to warn about increases in blood-sugar levels, which may increase the risk of type-2 diabetes. The FDA conclusions were based on several studies linking the entire statin class of drugs to new-onset diabetes (especially in post-menopausal women).
The FDA added warning:
“Based on clinical trial meta-analyses and epidemiological data from the published literature, information concerning an effect of statins on incident diabetes and increases in HbA1c and/or fasting plasma glucose was added to statin labels.”
Symptoms of Type-2 Diabetes
Type-2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. Normally, after a person eats a meal, the body absorbs nutrients and releases insulin and sugar into the bloodstream. The insulin tells cells to absorb sugar from the blood and use it as fuel. In people with type-2 diabetes, cells have become numb to insulin and they do not absorb enough sugar. This causes chronic problems controlling blood-sugar levels.
Symptoms of type-2 diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger (especially after eating)
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Feeling tired or weak
- Blurry vision
- And more
Severe Lipitor Side Effects
- Type-2 diabetes
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Liver failure
- Muscle pain
- Memory loss
- And more