A new study again highlights the fact that using statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels are not at all risk free. Researchers found that statin use increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 46% in men. These results are a little better than the 72% increase in type 2 diabetes noted in postmenopausal women taking statins. The results from these studies and others call into question the false hope that physicians and consumers place in statin drugs to promote a longer, healthier life.
While statins have been shown to reduce heart attack risk and extend life in patients with confirmed cardiovascular disease such as a history of a heart attack, stroke, or clinical evidence of blockage of the arteries such as angina, about 80% of the prescriptions for statins are written for people with no clinical evidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In many cases, physicians are prescribing statins to people with the only risk factor being high LDL cholesterol levels. Statins have not been shown to increase life expectancy in these patients or in others not suffering from clinical evidence of CVD.
The list of statin drugs include:
- Altoprev (lovastatin extended-release)
- Crestor (rosuvastatin)
- Lescol (fluvastatin)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin)
- Livalo (pitavastatin)
- Mevacor (lovastatin)
- Pravachol (pravastatin)
- Zocor (simvastatin).
The easy conclusion is that the majority of people on statin drugs are achieving no real benefit from them, and may in fact be exposing themselves to considerable harm including the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
While drug companies and many doctors state that statins are so safe and effective they should be added to drinking water, the reality is that they are very expensive medicines, provide very limited benefit, and carry with them considerable risks for side effects. In addition to the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, some of the side effects noted with statins include the following:
- Liver problems and decreased liver function.
- Interference with the manufacture of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a key substance responsible for energy production within the body.
- Rhabdomyolysis, the breaking down of muscle tissue, which can be fatal.
- Nerve damage – the chances of nerve damage are 26 times higher in statin users than in the general population.
- Cognitive (brain-related) impairment, such as memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion, has been seen in some statin users.
- Possible increased risk of cancer and heart failure with long-term use.
- Increased muscle damage caused by exercise and reduced exercise capacity.
- Worsening energy levels and fatigue after exertion in about 20% of cases
- Increased risk for obesity and insulin resistance.
To further explore the risk for type 2 diabetes with statin drug use, researchers investigated the effects of statin treatment on blood glucose control and the risk for type 2 diabetes in 8,749 non-diabetic men age 45 to 73 years in a 6-year follow-up of the population-based Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) trial, based in Kuopio, Finland.
Results clearly showed that statin use was associated with a 46% increased risk for type 2 diabetes after adjusting for all confounding factors. Patients taking statins also had a 24% decrease in insulin sensitivity and a 12% reduction in insulin secretion compared with those not receiving the drugs.
It is interesting to note that despite the clear risks of taking statins, physicians are largely brainwashed into believing that the benefits outweigh the risks. The data just does not support this line of thinking. Again, while statins do produce some benefits in reducing deaths due to a heart attack in people with a history of a heart attack, stroke, or current signs and symptoms of existing CVD; large studies in people without a history of heart attack or stroke who took statin drugs and lowered their cholesterol have shown they do not live any longer than the people in the placebo group. That is especially true for women. In fact, there is no real solid evidence that statins increase life expectancy even in women with cardiovascular disease.
This recent study is just one more that further strengthens my consistent message on statins. They are NOT addressing the major causes of CVD and may be creating serious health issues of their own.
In order to provide you the best guidelines to reduce your risk for CVD, I am offering a free PFD download on my book, Cholesterol and Heart Health – What the Drug Companies Won’t Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn’t Know. Feel free to forward it to any friend or family member that can benefit from it.
Also, if you know someone taking a statin and you can’t get them to read my book, have them at least watch my recorded webinar, An Honest Appraisal Of Statins And Their Alternatives.
Mayor S. Statins associated with 46% rise in type 2 diabetes risk, study shows. BMJ. 2015 Mar 5;350:h1222. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h1222.
Dr. Michael Murray