Part II of a multi-installment series on cholesterol and the dangers of statin drugs.
What a Deal! You can drive your cholesterol levels dangerously low while developing Type II Diabetes at the same time! Wow – thanks Big Pharma!
By Nurse Mark
In my last HealthBeat article Lower Your Cholesterol – Lose Your Marbles? I talked about how the mighty FDA – the thuggish bodyguard to Big Pharma – has had to ask it’s corporate masters to include new warnings about dangerous side effects on the information inserts for statin drugs.
You know the ones, those tightly folded papers covered in tiny print that describe a drug’s side effects in mind-numbingly boring terms. You read them all the time, right? Yeah, I thought so…
The dangers of these drugs are becoming so obvious that the FDA can’t ignore them any longer – hence the new warnings about memory loss and confusion, Type II diabetes, liver failure, and muscle damage.
Even so, says the FDA, we mustn’t stop using statins, for their “benefits” far outweigh the “rare” risks of complications like these.
We’ll talk about the supposed “benefits” of statins in an upcoming article, but for right now let’s look at one of these “rare” risks that the FDA is finally admitting to.
Folks, I don’t know about you, but any risk of developing Type II diabetes with all the complications that go along with it is too great a risk for me to take willingly. Some of those complications include heart disease. Uh, wait a minute… isn’t that what the statin was supposed to fix?
And “rare”? It seems to me that with the increase in risk for developing diabetes while taking a statin running as high as 22 percent according to a most recent study this is a risk that is a little more than “rare.”
Canadian researchers examined the medical records of over a million and a half elderly people in the province of Ontario to examine the association between statin use and new onset diabetes and they reported their findings in the British Medical Journal.
The results do not look good for statins, and while there will surely be attempts made to discredit the study, the results of the researchers are not new – similar results have been obtained in past studies. The evidence is mounting.
In a study published in the medical journal The Lancet in 2010 researcher David Preiss, MRCP, a clinical research fellow at the British Heart Foundation Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Glasgow in Scotland reported similar, though less dramatic findings. That study was however very careful to state the opinion that the risk of diabetes was low compared to the risk of heart disease and that patients should not stop taking statins…
Now, to be fair, some research has shown that some forms of statin drugs may actually protect from the development of diabetes – in previous research, the popular statin Crestor has been associated with up to a 27 percent higher risk of diabetes, while the older and somewhat less popular statin Pravachol was said to be linked to a 30 percent lower risk. While it may be better from the standpoint of causing diabetes, Pravachol still brings all the other worrisome side effects common to the other statin drugs – muscle damage, liver damage, memory loss and confusion. Not my idea of a fun time…
So, is it worth it? Remember, cholesterol is essential to life – so essential that our liver will make it from new even if we never eat another thing containing cholesterol. Cholesterol is a major component of the walls of our cells – it is our “waterproofing.” It is the substance that keeps the insides in and the outside out. It’s also the basic building block for the hormones that keep our endocrine system going. It’s the substance that forms the insulating sheaths on our nerves, just like the insulation on the wires in your home.
Is it really worth driving away this essential substance, at the risk of inviting in diabetes?
Personally I don’t think so – and we’ll talk more about some of the other dangers of statin drugs soon!
FDA Consumer Information: FDA Expands Advice on Statin Risks
FDA Drug Safety Communication: Important safety label changes to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs
Dangers of Statin Drugs: What You Haven’t Been Told About Popular Cholesterol-Lowering Medicines
Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD
The Lancet, Volume 375, Issue 9716, Pages 735 – 742, 27 February 2010
Statins and risk of incident diabetes: a collaborative meta-analysis of randomised statin trials
We identified 13 statin trials with 91 140 participants, of whom 4278 (2226 assigned statins and 2052 assigned control treatment) developed diabetes during a mean of 4 years. Statin therapy was associated with a 9% increased risk for incident diabetes (odds ratio [OR] 1·09; 95% CI 1·02—1·17), with little heterogeneity (I2=11%) between trials. Meta-regression showed that risk of development of diabetes with statins was highest in trials with older participants, but neither baseline body-mass index nor change in LDL-cholesterol concentrations accounted for residual variation in risk.
Could Statins Raise Diabetes Risk? Some popular brands associated with high blood sugar levels in study, but odds of problems are low. By Margaret Farley Steele Friday, May 24, 2013 MedLinePlus
Risk of incident diabetes among patients treated with statins: population based study
BMJ 2013 (Published 23 May 2013)
In this population based study, we found that patients treated with atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, or simvastatin were at increased risk of new onset diabetes compared with those treated with pravastatin.
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