Statin Use Strongly Linked to Diabetes in Healthy Adults

Even healthy adults taking statins are 87% more likely to develop diabetes.

Even healthy adults taking statins are 87% more likely to develop diabetes.

A recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine evaluated 3982 Tricare beneficiaries who were taking statins and 21,988 peers in the military health system who were not.

Using 42 baseline characteristics, the researchers matched 3351 statin users to 3351 nonusers and then examined the incidence of diabetes, diabetic complications, and obesity in both groups. At baseline, all study subjects had no cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or other life-limiting chronic disease.

In addition to seeing a strong association between new-onset diabetes and statin use, those taking statins also had a 250% greater likelihood of developing diabetes with complications than their counterparts, and they were 14% more likely to be overweight or obese. The researchers also determined that the higher the dose of the statin, the greater the risk of these conditions.

While previous studies have linked statin use to increased risk of diabetes and potential weight gain, the current authors noted they provided more evidence of the association among healthy adults, which is less frequently studied.

“The risk of diabetes with statins has been known, but up until now, it was thought that this might be due to the fact that people who were prescribed statins had greater medical risks to begin with,” said lead author Ishak Mansi, MD, a professor and physician-researcher with the Veterans Affairs North Texas Health System and the University of Texas Southwestern, in a press release.

The authors did not advise patients to stop taking statins based on their study results; rather, they recommended that patients and health care providers discuss potential benefits and risks with statin use. However, they also encouraged patients to pursue lifestyle changes to potentially avoid taking statins.