Statins and Diabetes: What you need to know

For some time, data has been bubbling up about the increased risk of diabetes in patients who take statins which include Crestor, Lipitor or atorvastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin and lovastatin. The risk has been considered very small — until now.

A recent study involving 9000 non-diabetic men followed for six years found that taking statins increased the risk of developing diabetes by nearly 50%. This held even after accounting for age, body mass index, waist circumference, physical activity, smoking, alcohol intake, family history of diabetes, and use of other medications that can predispose to abnormal blood sugar readings. And the risk appeared to be dose-dependent, meaning the higher the statin dose, the higher the likelihood of developing diabetes.

Now before you run to your medicine cabinet and throw out your cholesterol-lowering medications, a few things to keep in mind:

  1. The absolute proportion of men who developed diabetes was 7%. Not zero, but also not an overwhelming number.
  2. Lots of well respected studies have shown over and over that statins reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with known heart disease – and in those with diabetes, too.
  3. You should never stop any medication before checking with your doctor.

But this study does point out that statins are not entirely benign and that jumping to statin treatment in people WITHOUT known heart disease or diabetes should not be taken lightly. In those already taking statins, doing everything to minimize the medication dose required to control cholesterol is vital.

Food is a major driver of cholesterol, so changing what you eat must be part of any cholesterol treatment plan. That’s why Step One Foods was born. We hope we’ve made eating for cholesterol management and heart disease prevention just as easy as taking a pill.

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