March 5, 2015 — Lipitor and other cholesterol-lowering statins may increase an older man’s risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 46%, according to a new study from researchers in Finland.
The conclusions of the study, published yesterday in Diabetologia (PDF), were based on data from nearly 9,000 men between the ages of 45 and 73, including about 2,150 who were taking a statin from 2005-2010. During six years of follow-up, 625 men were diagnosed with diabetes.
The researchers concluded that the increased risk of diabetes was due to several factors. Statins increased a patient’s resistance to insulin by 24%, meaning cells were less responsive to the hormone and absorbed less sugar from the bloodstream.
Another major factor was that statins decreased insulin secretion from the pancreas by 12%. With less insulin in the bloodstream and higher resistance to insulin, blood-sugar levels increase.
Higher doses of statins and longer treatment was also associated with higher rates of diabetes. High-dose Zocor (simvastatin) was linked to a 44% increased risk of diabetes. Low-dose Zocor was associated with a 28% increased risk. High-dose Lipitor (atorvastatin) was linked to a 37% higher risk of diabetes.
The results of the study are remarkably similar to one involving post-menopausal women, in which researchers concluded that use of statins increased the risk of type-2 diabetes by 50%. Conclusions were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in January 2012.