If you take a statin drug to control your cholesterol, the pharmaceutical increases your chances of developing diabetes. And now researchers have discovered why this happens.
“Statins are among the most prescribed drugs in the world, and have been fantastic at reducing cardiovascular events,” says researcher Jonathan Schertzer at McMaster University in Canada. “But the side effects of statins can be far worse than not being able to eat grapefruit. Recently, an increased risk of diabetes has been added to the warning label for statin use. This was perplexing to us because if you are improving your metabolic profile with statins you should actually be decreasing the incidence of diabetes with these drugs, yet, the opposite happened.”
A study by Schertzer and his colleagues shows that statins interfere with the immune system in a way that prevents insulin from helping cells take in blood sugar.
“We found that statins activated a very specific immune response, which stopped insulin from doing its job properly,” says Schertzer.
Schertzer is now investigating exactly how statins affect the pancreas, the body’s production center for insulin. He also hopes to reveal whether this immune interference is involved in other side effects of statins like muscle pain and life-threatening muscle breakdown.