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Statins May Increase the Chance of Diabetes in Women

Studies have suggested that taking statins, which are medications used to lower cholesterol levels, may increase the risk of developing diabetes, particularly in women. However, the overall risk of developing diabetes is still low and the benefits of taking statins, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular events, typically outweigh the potential risks.

Statins, often called wonder drugs, are medicines taken to lower cholesterol levels. Zocor, Lipitor, and Crestor are the most popular of these medications that reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Tens of millions of Americans take these medications, but a recent study that followed over 150,000 women over the age of 50, with and without heart disease, found that those taking statin drugs had a 48 percent greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Doctors say that don’t know why statins increase diabetes and that the research does not implicate any single brand. These findings seem to confirm prior smaller studies.

Now, I’m not saying that anyone should panic and stop taking their medication since heart disease is one of the major complications of diabetes, but the risk is certainly something to consider and, ultimately, discuss with your doctor. Does the benefit outweigh the risk? It will depend on the patient.

In 2023, the general consensus appears to be that there is an increased risk of developing diabetes in individuals taking statins. But there are also studies – good studies – reporting that no significant association between the diabetes aand statins.

So while the evidence suggests that taking statins is associated with a modest increase in the risk of developing diabetes,  the evidence is murky.   The mechanism for this increased risk is not well understood, but it is thought to be related to the way that statins affect insulin resistance and glucose metabolism.

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