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Statins 'worthwhile' despite diabetes link

Friday August 10th, 2012

Cholesterol lowering drugs may aggravate the risk of developing diabetes - but the risks are massively outweighed by the benefits, researchers say today.

In the USA, statin pills carry compulsory warnings about the diabetes risks.

But, according to a new study, people at risk of developing diabetes and taking statins are 39 per cent less likely to develop heart disease than those not taking the drug.

And they were also less likely to die - by a factor of 17 per cent.

This is even though statins increase the risk of their developing diabetes by 28 per cent, according to the report in The Lancet.

The findings come from a study of nearly 18,000 patients. The researchers say they could find no evidence of statins being linked to the development of diabetes in people without risk factors for the disease.

Researcher Professor Paul Ridker, based at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, USA, said: "We believe that most physicians and patients would regard heart attack, stroke and death to be more severe outcomes than the onset of diabetes.

"So we hope that these results ease concern about the risks associated with statin therapy when these drugs are appropriately prescribed – in conjunction with improved diet, exercise and smoking cessation – to reduce patients' risk of cardiovascular disease."

Judy O'Sullivan, of the British Heart Foundation, welcomed the findings.

She said: “This analysis confirms that the benefits of taking statins far outweigh the side effects for the majority of people who need to take them, including those at increased risk of developing diabetes.

“If you’ve been prescribed statins, you should continue to take them. If you have any concerns about your medication, make sure you speak to your doctor.”

Cardiovascular benefits and diabetes risks of statin therapy in primary prevention: an analysis from the JUPITER trial. Paul M Ridker, Aruna Pradhan, Jean G MacFadyen, Peter Libby, Robert J Glynn. The Lancet August 10 2012

Tags: Diabetes | Heart Health | North America | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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