Statin Drugs Raise the Risk for Diabetes in Postmenopausal Women by 48%Older women using Statin Drugs like Lipitor may be at a 48% higher risk for becoming Type 2 Diabetics. This result was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and reported by Medpage Today, January 9, 2012. The study didn’t specifically prove that statins cause Diabetes but rather proved that either the use of statins causes Diabetes or that statin use is somehow related to the incidence of Diabetes. Future studies will be needed to prove any cause/effect relationships.
This is yet another “shot across the bow” at the statin drug industry which has convinced many Americans that they have to take statins for their cardiovascular health. I stopped taking Lipitor months ago because I deemed the risk much greater than the benefit – and my physician went along with it because of my weight loss with a low carb diet. To acquaint you with the dark side of statins and why many are doing as I have, watch the following video by Dr. Diamond. He covers statins starting at 33:45 into the clip. His presentation is backed up by data and references from the University of South Florida.
In terms of the 48% higher risk figure, it is important to realize that this is called a Hazard Risk and is a ratio of a ratio, masking some important issues. You need to consider a simpler perspective of the data to meaningfully assess what this means. I don’t have the exact figures, but based on the published study data, the likelihood of all the women in the study becoming Diabetic was around 6.7%. The women on statins were (based on the study results) found to have a 48% higher risk of becoming diabetic. The rough estimate of the likelihood of women on statins to become diabetic was therefore 148% of 6.7%, or 9.9%. From this simpler perspective the numbers aren’t so frightening. In other words, for these women, going on a statin increased the likelihood of Diabetes by 3.2%, from 6.7% to 9.9%. It is still, however, a finding that is not good news for patients on statins.
Getting back to the new statin study: Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, was intrigued by prior research that suggested a link between statins and Diabetes and established an estimate of a 9% higher risk of Diabetes for statin users. Based on this, Dr. Ma and his colleagues decided to investigate further with an analysis of the data from a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative. After that analysis, in short, they found a much higher risk for Diabetes, for postmenopausal women on statins.
The Women’s Health Initiative provided data on 153,840 women with an average age of 63, who didn’t have Diabetes when they entered the study in 1993. About 7% of the women were on statins at the beginning of the study. Analysis of the women on statins compared to women not on statins yielded a 48% greater risk of the onset of Type 2 Diabetes during the study, which was last analyzed in 2005. This result was obtained after analysis adjustments were made to make sure that issues like age, race, and weight weren’t contributing factors. The 48% higher risk was seen for all types of statins (for example Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, and Mevacor).
Since the study didn’t conclusively find that statins cause Diabetes, the researchers were clear in recommending that patients consult with their doctors on this issue before changing their medications. They did suggest, however, that since there is a higher risk of Diabetes with statin users, patients should strongly consider lifestyle change (such as weight loss and exercise) to improve their health rather than think that they can, “without risk”, just take the easy approach with statins.
Some interesting things are going on with the TV News coverage. Yesterday NBC reported on the study mentioned here, using the 48% increased risk factor (Hazard Risk). On the Today Show today, however, NBC reported on the same story but chose to report the numbers from the “simpler perspective” with no mention of the Hazard Factor 48% number. They reported that the likelihood of women becoming Diabetic was 10% for women who were on statins but only 6.4% for women who weren’t. That doesn’t look so frightening does it? I wonder if the change from the Hazard Risk to the less frightening simple perspective had anything to do with the minute-long Lipitor commercial that NBC aired during the show!
It’s ironic that the supporters of statin drugs may have pulled the same trick (but in reverse) when they put together the original clinical study analysis that got us onto statins in the first place. See the video above from Dr. Diamond at around 37:30 into the clip. The detailed analysis results indicated that reducing cholesterol lowered the likelihood of death by Coronary Heart Disease from 2% to 1.6% (only 0.4%) – not very exciting. The statin supporters however proclaimed that it was a 24% reduction in risk (Hazard Risk)!
This post is featured on the Modern Paleo Blog.