Are Statins for You?Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Taking cholesterol-lowering statins have been associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A recent large-scale study found that older women taking statins have a 48 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It has not been determined if statins make existing diabetes worse. However, the risk of developing diabetes while taking statins increased by 78 percent for Asian women, by 57 percent for Hispanic women, by 49 percent for white women, and by 18 percent for African-American women. Women taking statins with a lower body-mass index (BMI) had a higher risk of developing diabetes when compared with obese women. In addition, previous studies found that for people who do not have cardiovascular disease (CVD), taking statins to lower cholesterol does not improve mortality rates. Yet, because they also have anti-inflammatory effect, statins can be helpful for people who have diabetes. As well as reducing blood clotting, they are thought to help reduce plaques that can build up in arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. A recent study found that people with diabetes who took statins had a nine percent lower mortality rate and contradicted earlier studies by showing that people without diabetes had a 13 percent lower mortality rate, and that overall, heart attacks and strokes were reduced by 21 percent. Deciding whether to take statins can be confusing. People with confirmed or suspected CVD may benefit most. People with type 2 diabetes and people who have had type 1 diabetes for a long time are at higher risk of CVD. Because women typically have a higher risk of developing diabetes while on statins, and gain less benefit from the drugs, especially Asian and Hispanic women, they may wish to question the risk-benefit of statins the most.