March 5, 2015 — Yet another study has found that cholesterol-lowering statins, such as Lipitor, may increase the risk of type-2 diabetes by nearly 50% in men over 45 years old.
The researchers concluded that statins increase the risk of type-2 diabetes in several ways. One is that the drugs increase a person’s resistance to insulin by 24%, which makes cells less responsive to the hormone.
Normally, when cells become resistant to insulin, the pancreas compensates by making more insulin. However, researcher also found that statins appear to impair the ability of the pancreas to make insulin, decreasing insulin secretion by 12%.
With less insulin in the body, blood-sugar levels can increase significantly — especially for high-risk patients. Higher doses and longer treatment with statins were associated with more insulin resistance, less insulin production, and a higher risk of diabetes.
High-dose Zocor (simvastatin) was associated with a 44% higher risk of diabetes, while low-dose Zocor was associated with a 28% increased risk. High-dose Lipitor (atorvastatin) was linked to a 37% increased risk of diabetes.
The study was published in Diabetologia (PDF) by researchers in Finland. Conclusions were based on data from 8,749 non-diabetic patients between the ages of 45-73, including 2,142 who started taking a statin. After six years of follow-up, diabetes was diagnosed in 625 men.
The findings of the study echo a similar study that found a 50% increased risk of type-2 diabetes among post-menopausal women on statins, published in January 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.