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Statins: Can Lowering Cholesterol Really Increase the Risk of Diabetes?

statins bottle spilledPrevious warnings alerted patients of the possible increased risk of developing diabetes while taking cholesterol-lowering statins. Now, experts claim that reports examining the effect on the risk of diabetes aren’t necessarily the most accurate since many of the patients in the studies may have already been on the track to diabetes. So what’s the real story behind high-cholesterol treatments?

Taking Statins as Prescribed Can Lead to a Healthier Life.

About 1 out of every 4 adults over 45 years of age use statins for reducing cholesterol levels, and according to doctors, there are millions more patients who should be using them. Lowering cholesterol in patients with high levels of “bad cholesterol” or triglycerides can prevent strokes, heart attacks and the need for cardiovascular surgery. These benefits sound awesome, but they’re nothing compared to the fact that using statins can decrease the risk of an early death.

Thus being said, reports show that patients taking cholesterol-lowering drugs who were not at risk for diabetes had 52% less cardiovascular problems, and for patients prone to diabetes, their risk for cardiovascular illnesses dropped by 39%. Statins even proved to lower the risk of death in diabetes-prone patients by 17%. But the number we’ve all been waiting for is by how much, if at all, can treatments for high cholesterol drugs increase your risk for diabetes?

Cholesterol-lowering Medicines May Increase the Risk of Diabetes in Some Situations.

lipitor statinsTime and time again studies have highlighted the increased risk in diabetes in patients who are taking statins. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has even required labeling changes to include type-2 diabetes as a side effects. One specific side effect of statins to note is an increased sugar levels in the body, which can no doubt be dangerous for patients who are already at risk for diabetes.

But, just what do studies say about the correlation between the two? In one study, cholesterol-lowering drugs raised the risk for diabetes by 3.5% compared to those not taking the drugs. Yet, in a different trial conducted on post-menopausal women, the numbers were quite different. In this experiment, the women had an increased risk for diabetes by 48%. The tremendous gap between these increased risks shown in trials is the cause of much speculation, raising questions of why they vary so greatly.

Many Patients with High Cholesterol are Already on Their Way to Developing Diabetes.

For some doctors, this “increased risk” for diabetes isn’t exactly caused by the statins. High cholesterol significantly raises the risk of diabetes. So, perhaps the increase found in studies aren’t caused by the statins, but instead by their own pre-existing condition. Many experts believe that the increased possibility of developing type-2 diabetes may only occur in patients who already have a seriously high risk for diabetes.

Know Your Risk Before Using Statins.

Since the actual risk for any given patient of developing diabetes has not been proven and the studies only show control groups, the real effect remains unknown. However, there is one key precaution you can take to make sure you aren’t a victim of diabetes: know your own risk.

If the risk of you having a heart attack outweights the risk for diabees, the answer is obvious. For patients who are prone to diabetes, doctors recommend lowering cholesterol levels through other methods without the use of drugs such as adhering to a healthy diet and exercise plan. Before letting news alerts scare you into believing that you will get type-2 diabetes from taking statins, talk to your doctor and understand your health condition so you can stay healthy.