The researchers can't explain the link. "It's still an area under scrutiny," said Annie Culver, the study's first author and a consulting pharmacist with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
"Statins may affect the way the body manages insulin and glucose responses," she said.
The take-home message for women and others, the researchers said, is to pay attention to lifestyle measures that can lower diabetes risk or help manage the disorder if they already have it. Keeping a healthy body weight, eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity can all help.
"If they do need statin therapy, they should not be complacent that medication will solve the problem," Culver said. Lifestyle measures still matter, she added.
If an older woman needs statins to reduce heart attack or stroke risk, this study should not dissuade them, agreed Dr. Spyros Mezitis, a clinical endocrinologist consultant at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He said the findings are observational, and as such the researchers cannot control for all the possible confounding factors.
Doctors should try to keep statin dosage as low as possible, he said. And women with and without diabetes who are prescribed a statin to lower cholesterol should expect regular monitoring of their cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, attending cardiologist and director of Women and Heart Disease at the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital, said that as a result of the findings, women on the medications should watch their intake of sugar, starches and carbohydrates to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Every woman taking a statin needs to know her risk of heart disease, Steinbaum said, and she needs
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