AARP Eye Center
One in four Americans over age 45 take a statin to lower their cholesterol, but a new study says the popular drugs may increase the risk of diabetes.
An analysis of postmenopausal women who were taking statins found they had almost a 50 percent greater risk of diabetes than those who weren't on the cholesterol-lowing drug.
The study, published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at nearly 154,000 women, average age 63, who didn't have diabetes when the study began in 1993.
The research found that 6.4 percent of women who didn't use statins developed diabetes during the follow-up that ended in 2005. Among statin users, diabetes developed among 9.9 percent of the women.
Cardiologist Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, who wasn't involved in the study, told USA Today, "I don't think there's any debate remaining, particularly in the higher doses, about whether statins slightly increase the risk of developing diabetes."
But he added that patients shouldn't stop taking their medication without talking to their doctor. Statins are "among the best drugs we've got" for reducing the risk of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease, Nissen said.
Suzanne Steinbaum, M.D., director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital In Bronx, N.Y., told MedPage Today that older women who are taking statins should be sure their doctor checks their blood sugar, as well as their liver function, to monitor for signs of diabetes.
Some of the early warning signs of diabetes include increased thirst and urination, as well as fatigue.
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