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What is the Connection Between Statins and Diabetes?

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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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The link between statins and diabetes has been scrutinized and established, but the research is minimal to accredit a definite cause to the development of diabetes from taking cholesterol-lowering medication. Statins lower total cholesterol in patents, which may also interfere with vitamin D synthesis, an important vitamin for blood sugar regulation. Deficiencies of vitamin D may lead to diabetes over time due to poor blood sugar control. This is only a speculation on the many possible links between statins and diabetes, and more research must be conducted to determine a definite cause.

Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D synthesis, a necessary vitamin needed in large amounts by the body for various functions. One of these functions includes blood sugar control, and low levels of cholesterol correlates with low production of vitamin D. This may be one of the biggest statins side effects, because improper blood sugar levels over time leads to chronic elevated levels of insulin. These physiological mechanisms which happen too frequently can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.

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A review of studies on statin side effects of more than 90,000 people showed that statin drugs raise diabetes risk by 9 percent. The researchers expressed the percentage as being very low, and that the benefits of reducing heart attack and stroke far outweigh the small possibility of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. It is not clear whether continued usage of cholesterol-lowering drugs over many years would increase the percentage of developing diabetes. As stated by the reviewers of these studies, more research must determine whether statins and diabetes have a strong link between each other.

This study also pointed out that many of the participants in the trial suffered from metabolic syndrome. This includes obesity and possible pre-diabetic symptoms, two things strongly associated with the development of full-blown diabetes in the future. Metabolic syndrome is usually associated with the consumption of too many carbohydrates, which not only increases blood sugar and weight gain, but cholesterol as well. Proper exercise and dietary alteration can reverse the effects of metabolic syndrome and high blood sugar levels in most individuals.

Diabetes is not the only risk or side effect of statin medications. Other statin side effects include muscle pain and headaches. These symptoms do not seem to be severe enough for a patient to stop taking statin drugs. Usually the link between statins and diabetes does not show itself as quickly as the other initial and minor side effects, such as muscle pain and weakness. Since the chance of developing diabetes through the use of statins is relatively low and possibly insignificant, most doctors recommend a proper diet and exercise program along with a cholesterol treatment program to decrease the risk for developing diabetes.

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