Do Statins Cause Diabetes

There is no more powerful drug for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart attacks than the class of drugs called statins.  Atorvastatin (Lipitor) is the best-selling statin and the best-selling drug in history, but others include lovastatin (Mevacor, Altocor), pravastatin (Pravachol, Lipostat), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor, Lipex).  Especially in susceptible people who have features of the metabolic syndrome (see that post) or abnormal fasting blood glucose levels, there is a higher incidence of diabetes in those who take statins compared with those who don’t.

The US Food and Drug Administration has required drug companies to add a warning to statin labels that “increases in glycosylated hemoglobin and fasting serum glucose levels have been reported with statin use”.  But they add that the “FDA continues to believe that the cardiovascular benefits of statins outweigh these small increased risks.”

Bottom line: don’t be afraid to take a statin if you need it, but work even harder at the lifestyle changes of weight loss and exercise to prevent the onset of diabetes.

For much more on controlling fats, the metabolic syndrome and prevention of heart disease, see my book Diabetes For Dummies, 4th Edition.

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