Do Statins Cause Diabetes?

A New Study Has Statin Use Increasing Adult Onset Diabetes by 46%. Earlier statins-cause-AODM-just-say-nostudies had a 10% to 20% increase. Why the difference? And why are statins still prescribed

Numerous studies have shown no benefit from statin use. The most recent one, reported in MedScape, shows a rather horrifying increase in adult onset diabetes: “Statin therapy appears to increase the risk for type 2 diabetes by 46%, even after adjustment for confounding factors.” The study looked at a six-year time frame and followed almost 9,000 people that had started statins. The study seems quite well done. The result is markedly higher than previously reported incidence of diabetes among statin users.

Commenting on this, one statin advocate believed the benefits of statin therapy would outweigh the diabetes risk. Hard to fathom. The paper is available here.

One result, not entirely unexpected, is that the affect is dose dependent. The stronger statins caused more adult onset diabetes.

So why do statins greatly increase the risk of adult onset diabetes?

This appears to be very direct. Statins make insulin resistance worse. It is insulin resistance, almost always caused by a diet chronically high in sugar and starch, that causes adult onset diabetes. The affect of statins on insulin resistance was also reported in MedScape, and can be viewed here. It appears that insulin levels rose about 40% after 12 weeks on the statins. That this would then trigger adult onset diabetes comes as no surprise.

Statin use also appears to increase some types of inflammation, which could cause any number of problems, cancer included.

So why the discrepancy with previously reported results?

There are a couple of reasons this may be. Many of the results came from clinical trials. Clinical trials engage in a dubious practice called “pre-selection,” wherein they basically pick the people most likely to benefit from the drug. This could (and likely would) exclude people at risk for adult onset diabetes. Since, once approved, the drug will be prescribed to the general population, you may well wonder why it isn’t trialed on a group like the general population as well. We “wonder” that ourselves, though the answer is blatantly obviously. So pre-selection is one factor.

Another is under-diagnosis. This could happen because of the way the clinical trial chose to look for negative effects. They might simply have asked the participants if they had gotten diabetes, or something along that line.

Statin benefits

Statins have side effects. This is well known. It is played down by the manufacturers and by many cardiologists. There seems to be some increase in cancer, and a significant problem with muscle wasting. And now it appears that the inducement of adult onset diabetes may be a lot higher than thought.

Are there groups where the benefits of statins outweigh all these risks? The reality, we believe, is there are no groups that benefit overall, including those at high risk for a cardiac event.

Current opinion tends to split three ways.

  • Some advocate statins quite broadly, such as anyone with LDL cholesterol over 100, or anyone over 50 years old.
  • Others advocate only for high cardiac risk individuals.
  • The final camp is that statins benefit no one.

Surely, you must be thinking, there is a reality here. Of course there is. The problem is that there are what, in medical research, would be termed “confounding factors.”

The principal confounder is the drug industry, perhaps inadvertently, perhaps deliberately, to promulgate and promote research that casts statins in a positive light. It is rather natural that they should do so. It is a 20 billion dollar market! The organizations that are not doing their jobs are the regulators. Drugs that tested well on a narrow group are given approval for a much wider target market. Potentially misleading advertising is seldom blocked, and so on.

The other problem is the nature of how medicine is practiced. Doctors specialize. Many cardiologists like statins because it reduces cardiac events. That’s their job. If a statin user goes on to develop a cancer, or adult onset diabetes, he does not return to the cardiologist, but goes to the appropriate specialist. The cardiologist thus gets no feedback, and goes on his or her merry way.

But not all cardiologists. Some raise their medical periscopes and look for possible problems elsewhere. In 2012, a well known cardiologist wrote a New York Times op-ed, which opened with this: “We’re overdosing on cholesterol-lowering statins, and the consequence could be a sharp increase in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.” He argues that for the vast majority of people that are taking statins, specifically those that have never had a stroke or heart attack, there should be a “careful review,” and statins shouldn’t just be automatically prescribed. And all this before the 46% increase in diabetes came out.

About adult onset diabetes

This is also known as Type-II diabetes. It is more a syndrome than a disease. It is almost always curable. It is caused by high insulin resistance. Recall that insulin’s job is to deliver glucose molecules to the cells. If the cells will not accept this, both insulin and glucose levels will increase. This state is called insulin resistance and if sufficiently severe is termed adult onset diabetes. Ideally, glucose should be below 80 ng/dl, and insulin below 6 µu/ml. In an insulin-resistant person, these numbers may be 130 and 30 or even higher. Typically triglycerides soar as well. All this circulating glucose and insulin is quite dangerous, promoting cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s as well as damaging the eyes, the kidneys, the fingertips and toes, the brain and the heart. It lowers testosterone, impairs memory, speeds loss of bone mineral density.

Adult onset diabetes is aging in the fast lane. The adult diabetic syndrome is so dangerous that anyone with significantly elevated glucose and insulin numbers should immediately and permanently cut out as much sugar and starch as humanly possible, start a serious exercise program, get the stress level down, and get enough sleep.

Most adult onset diabetes research is looking for a loophole in the biology of how a starch/sugar overwhelmed system is incapable of coping. So far, none have been found, so little progress is made. Perhaps in another 50,000 years, we will have evolved some protective mechanism.

Adult onset diabetes is not genetic. You will frequently hear words to the contrary, but adult onset diabetes was practically unknown in our grandparent’s generation, and genetics simply cannot change that fast. It is largely due to high starch and sugar content in today’s diets.

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