Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs May Be Linked to Diabetes
You may have concerns about taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, such as atorvastatin (Lipitor and generic), rosuvastatin (Crestor), and simvastatin (Zocor and generic), after a recent study linked those drugs to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. But Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs experts say the heart-protective benefit of statins usually outweighs the risk of diabetes, so don’t skip a statin if you need one to lower your cholesterol.
Diabetes isn’t a new side effect of statins. The Food and Drug Administration added it to the label of all statins in 2012 based on a review of studies that found a slightly elevated risk. For example, one study that reviewed 13 randomized, controlled clinical trials of statins found that 4.9 percent of people who took one of the drugs for 4 years developed diabetes compared with 4.5 percent of those who didn’t take a statin.
Lower Cholesterol vs. Higher Blood Glucose
The new study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, raises questions about whether the diabetes risk is higher than previously thought. Researchers looked at medical data of nearly 7,000 men and women with an average age of 53. About 31 percent of those who took a statin for an average of 5.5 years developed diabetes compared with 19 percent of those who didn’t.
But since the study was not a randomized, controlled study—the gold standard for determining whether a drug causes a particular side effect—it’s not known for sure that the increase in diabetes was entirely due to statins. The study participants might have had other factors that Continue reading