MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Statin medications used by women after menopause appear to increase their risk of developing diabetes, according to a large, new study.
The research echoes findings of other studies linking the cholesterol-lowering drugs with an increased diabetes risk in men and women. Statins include drugs such as Lipitor, Lescol and Mevacor.
"We found statins increased the risk of diabetes about 48 percent after adjusting for different risk factors such as family history of diabetes, body mass index and [physical] activity," said Dr. Yunsheng Ma, associate professor of medicine and an epidemiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass. "It's a moderate risk," he said.
However, the study found an association, not a cause and effect.
The authors stressed that the findings -- published online Jan. 9 in the Archives of Internal Medicine -- are not a reason to change current guidelines for use of the drugs in those with or without diabetes. Statins are often prescribed to lower blood cholesterol levels in order to prevent heart disease or its progression. Diabetes is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
For the study, the researchers followed nearly 154,000 participants in the Women's Health Initiative, a long-running look at health issues in postmenopausal women.
At the study start in 1993, their average age was 63, and slightly more than 7 percent were taking statins. By 2005, more than 10,200 reported they had developed type 2 diabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels were too high.
People with type 2 diabetes don't make or properly utilize insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar, or glucose, in the blood. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage the kidneys, nerves and eyes.
Those taking statins were more likely to develop diabetes, the researchers found. When contribut
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