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Drug side effects

Finnish study explores association between statin use and diabetes

Several studies have found that statin therapy slightly increases the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes. In the image, a woman takes a glucose test

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A new study supports the hypothesis that statin therapy increases the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes

Several studies have found that statin therapy slightly increases the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes, with relative risks in the region of 10–20% compared with control. An analysis published in Diabetologia[1] (online, 4 March 2015), carried out to investigate the mechanisms underlying this association, has found that the real risk may be even greater.

In a Finnish population-based cohort of nearly 9,000 men aged 45–73 years who were followed-up for six years, 11.2% of statin users developed diabetes compared with 5.8% of non-users (P<0.001). After adjusting for confounders, this equated to a 46% increased risk of type 2 diabetes for statin users (hazard ratio 1.46, 95% confidence interval 1.22–1.74).

The higher risk was attributable to decreases in insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion, say the study authors, and these effects were dose-dependent for simvastatin and atorvastatin. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068110

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