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Statins raise type 2 diabetes mellitus risk

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By Jimmy Downs

Friday Nov 09, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A study in Archives of Internal Medicine warns that postmenopausal women taking statins may have to face a higher risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Statins are a class of best selling drugs in the U.S.  Studies have linked these medications to a range of benefits or potential benefits in addition to the cholesterol-lowering effect which is believed to be protective against heart disease.

But the current study led by A.L. Culver of Rochester Methodist Hospital, MayoClinic in Rochester, MN, USA and colleagues found that during about 15 years of follow-up, postmenopausal women who took statins were 71 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The association between statin use and elevated risk of diabetes mellitus remained significant after adjustment for confounders.  That is, postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 who took statins were 48 percent more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

And the association was applicable to all statins.

Statins can effectively lower serum cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease although some researchers argue that calcium may play a big role in the cardiac risk.  This prompts health officials to ponder whether statins should be added to the U.S. public drinking water system.

However, studies have shown that the efficacy in preventing heart disease may only be significant in those who are at high risk for heart disease or those who have had heart conditions in the past.  In healthy people, using statins is not cost-effective in preventing heart disease.

Even worse, statins can do more harm than good in healthy people, according to a new report.

E. Ginter of Slovensak zdravotnicka univerzita in Bratislava, Slovenska Republika and colleagues published a report in Cas. Lek. Cesk. warning that "Statins in-depth studies have shown that they can actually have a detrimental effect on the health of people without high cholesterol or heart disorders. Statins should be prescribed only to those patients with heart disease, or who have suffered the condition in the past."

The authors say in their report "Researchers warn that unless a patient is at high risk of the heart attack or stroke, statins may cause more harm than good."

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