Healthy patients taking statins have a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes and diabetic complications, according to a new study.
The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in May 2015, assessed 982 statin users and 21,988 non users over the decade using a database. They discovered that statin users had higher incidences of weight gain and diabetes.
In particular, statin users were more likely than non-users to develop eye, nerve and kidney complications. Pofessor Ishak Mansi, heart specialist at the University of Texas who headed the study claimed, “Our findings are alarming” and that the results were never demonstrated before.
Statins increase the risk of diabetic complications by 250 percent
Statins are a widely prescribed class of drugs that are intended to lower “bad” cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart problems. However, statins have come under attack in recent years after a study found that the drugs cause debilitating side-effects.
According to the recent study, statin users were twice as likely to develop diabetes and approximately 250 percent more likely than non-statin user to develop complications from their diabetes.
The recent study will be a welcomed, though unfortunate, addition to the literature surrounding statins. Approximately 12 million patients in the UK, or one in four adults, are routinely prescribed statins.
Advocates of statins claim the drugs save lives by lowering cholesterol and preventing heart attacks. However, opponents object on the ground that statins foster a lifestyle that provoked the heart complications to begin with.
Furthermore, more research suggests statins have debilitating side-effects, including muscle pain, depression, fatigue, bad memory and stroke. Many doctors and academics suspect drug regulators rely too heavily on studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry, who keep details of the study secret because of commercial confidentiality agreements.
“The risk of diabetes with statins has been known, but until now it was thought that this might be due to the fact that people who were prescribed statins had greater medical risks to begin with,” said Dr Mansi in a statement.
Risks of statins outweigh the benefits
Dr Mansi went on to claim that the drugs may be doing patients more harm than good: “I am sceptical about the prescribing guidelines for people at lower risk (of heart disease). I am concerned about the long term effects on the huge population of healthy people on these drugs who continue for many years.”
“There is not enough funding to carry out studies to assess these long term effects that are not funded by drug companies and therefore clouded by conflicts of interest,” he added.
These statements were echoed by Dr Malcolm Kendrick, who has studied statins and heart health: “There have been a number of small studies that have suggested an increase in the risk of diabetes and statin use. However this large and long term study has confirmed this is a significant problem. “
“This study demolishes the argument that these drugs should be prescribed to anyone, as the harms may outweigh previously suggested benefits,” he added.
And London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra claimed: “This study demonstrates that statins use in healthy adults is not only associated with significantly increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes but more importantly diabetic complications and weight gain. Prescribers should therefore make low risk patients aware of this potential risk to help them make an informed decision before subjecting them to lifelong medication that may do more harm than good.”