September 26, 2014 — The Lancet has published a study linking the use of cholesterol-lowering statins, such as Lipitor, with a 12% increased risk of diabetes.

Several studies published since 2012 have also found that statins can increase the risk of diabetes. Until now, no one knew whether the increased risk was due to the drugs themselves or other factors.

Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme that is necessary for the body to create cholesterol. The enzyme, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR), may also influence blood-sugar, lipid, and insulin levels.

Conclusions were based on genetic data from 220,000 people. Researchers looked for patients who had gene variants that had the same effects on HMGCR as statins. Those patients had similar rates of type-2 diabetes as patents on statins.

This suggests that inhibiting HMGCR increases the risk of type-2 diabetes, which is strong evidence that diabetes is a side effect of Lipitor and other statins. In addition, people who need to take statins for high cholesterol often have pre-existing health problems that also increase their risk of diabetes.

Researchers concluded:

“Statins increase the risk of new onset type 2 diabetes mellitus. The increased risk of type 2 diabetes noted with statins is at least partially explained by HMGCR inhibition.”

This is not the first time researchers have linked statins and diabetes. In July, Diabetes Care published a study that found a 32% increased risk of new-onset diabetes in patients on the highest doses of statins.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed this year. Between April and September 2014, the number of cases surged from 56 to over 1,200. The lawsuits have been consolidated in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in federal court in South Carolina.


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