How statins can triple your risk of diabetes

Diabetes has far-reaching consequences.

The longer you have diabetes, the more damage that’s done to your blood vessels by those high glucose levels. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease.

If you don’t have diabetes, but you are at high risk for heart disease due to high cholesterol, your doctor may have prescribed you a statin to control your cholesterol levels and protect your heart.

Ironically, these very same statins could be making you more likely to develop diabetes… which weakens your blood vessels… which can make you vulnerable to heart disease.

And round and round it goes…

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Studies link statin use with increased diabetes risk

Two separate studies point to the association between statins and new cases of diabetes.

An article in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology presented research by Humphrey Ko, a doctoral student at the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia.

The aim of the study was to untangle the relationship between statin use and skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) and diabetes.

The study found that, over as little as 91 days (about 3 months) of use, statins put users at greater risk of developing diabetes and SSTIs.

And in another study, Dr. Victoria Zigmont of the department of public health at Southern Connecticut State University looked at the relationship between statin use and diabetes risk.

Dr. Zigmont started by identifying almost 5,000 adults who had either hypertension or heart disease. Of those adults, 755 had received at least two statin prescriptions. In all the adults, HbA1c levels were observed.

Related: Why the doctor says you may not need a statin

The Hemoglobin A1c test, or HbA1c test, tells you your average level of blood sugar over the past two to three months. Since glucose (blood sugar) binds to the hemoglobin in red blood cells, and since red blood cells live for just a few months, this test is used by diabetics to make sure their blood sugar is staying within an acceptable range.

For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c level is between 4 percent and 5.6 percent. Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent mean you have a higher chance of getting diabetes. Levels of 6.5 percent or higher mean you have diabetes.

Two findings that implicated statins as making diabetes more likely came out of this study:

  • An HbA1c level of greater than 6 percent was found in more patients using statins than in non-statin users.
  • The number of people who developed a new case of diabetes was almost triple among statin users of at least two years (5 percent for non-statin users vs. 14.8 percent for statin users).

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What you can do to prevent diabetes

Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, I’m doomed to develop diabetes.”

This is not at all the case. There are choices you can make that will delay or even prevent diabetes from catching up with you.

Prediabetes is a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. Your chances of having prediabetes are higher if you are 45 or older or have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes.

The risk factors you can control are:

  • being physically inactive
  • having high blood pressure
  • being overweight
  • having low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides

Clearly, you can take control by engaging in a regular exercise program, which will also help control your blood pressure (plus there are plenty of natural ways to do that).

Need to lose some weight? Here are 22 weight loss tips from Dr. Michael Cutler to get you started.

You might consider 4 ways to lower your triglycerides… without statins.

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  1. Statin use raises risks for new-onset diabetes, skin infections — Healio
  2. Diabetes risk triples with continuous statin use — Healio
  3. A sequence symmetry analysis of the interrelationships between statins, diabetes and skin infections — British Pharmacological Society
  4. Statin users have an elevated risk of dysglycemia and new‐onset‐diabetes — Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews
  5. What causes diabetes? Find out and take control — American Diabetes Association
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.