How Statins Increase the Risk of Diabetes

All medication has its risks and side effects, but the most important thing is to weigh the benefits versus the risks.


Statins are drugs that are prescribed to decrease the cholesterol levels. These drugs have also been shown to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. However, recent studies put out a warning about how statins may be connected to diabetes in older women. Evidence suggests that higher dosages put a person at greater risk of diabetes.

Australian scientists have conducted a study on statins in approximately 8,000 female pensioners. They concluded that older female patients on statins should be monitored regularly for their blood glucose. According to their findings, female individuals over the age of 75 years old taking statins have a 33% increased chance of developing diabetes.

The risk further surges to 50% at higher doses. Statins are commonly prescribed to individuals in this age group, but there is little literature on the effects of statins on older women. Previous evidence has shown that there is only a modest increase in the risk of diabetes in patients who are taking statins, and the issue with the higher dosage-higher risk of diabetes have just recently been uncovered.

Statins have been used for more than 20 years to control the production of cholesterol and lowers cholesterol levels by 25-35%. Despite this unveiling, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom says that the benefits of statins outweigh the risk of the side effects of statins in the majority of patients.

Although statins increase the risk of diabetes, it is dose dependent, meaning that the higher the dose of statins, the higher the risk of diabetes. However, statins have been found to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events and therefore, its benefit still outweighs the risk of diabetes.