It is estimated that 5 to 6 million French people consume statins daily. It is a class of drugs highly prescribed throughout the world. They mainly lower the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and above all have a preventive role by reducing the risk of onset of cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction or stroke.
Taking statins is often prescribed for life. But the other side of the coin is bleak, the side effects of statins now cast doubt on their real health benefits.
Statins are a class of drugs with a lipid-lowering effect. They make it possible to treat hypercholesterolemia mainly by lowering the level of “bad cholesterol” (LDL or LDL-C for LDL cholesterol).
They mainly have a preventive role, the objective being to reduce the cardiovascular risk. But if they lower certain risks on one side, they increase others.
A 46% increase in diabetes
A large Finnish study published in March 2015 in the European specialist journal Diabetologia showed that the risk of type 2 diabetes, at least in white men (the study involved more than 8,700 Finnish white men aged 45 at 73), was about twice as high in people taking statins as those not taking them and 46% higher after taking into account correction factors such as obesity, so as not to distort the results. According to the researchers, statins increase insulin resistance by around 24% and decrease insulin secretion by 12%.
According to another Australian study published in 2017 in the specialized journal Drugs and Aging, women over the age of 75 are 33% more likely to develop diabetes if they take statins.
This study carried out by the University of Queensland, in Western Australia, focused on the analysis of data from more than 8,000 Australian women. Other studies have shown an association between taking statins and diabetes in post-menopausal women, as noted by the American magazine Prevention in its December 2017 edition.
Skyrocketing hyperglycemia and insulin resistance
Finally, a study published on March 4, 2019 in the scientific journal British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, people who take statins may have a higher risk of hyperglycemia, insulin resistance and possibly type 2 diabetes.
The analysis focused on 9,535 people aged over 45 who did not have diabetes at the start of the so-called Rotterdam study and who were followed up for a period of 15 years. Compared to participants who never took statins, those who took them tended to have higher fasting serum insulin concentrations and insulin resistance.
Participants who had previously taken statins had a 38% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes during the study. This risk was greater in people with impaired glycemic control and in overweight or obese people.
Statins: other unpleasant side effects
Gastrointestinal disorders or liver problems can also occur with the intake of statins. Other side effects can be back pain and liver problems.
Liver damage from statins occurs very rarely, with about 1 in 100,000 people taking statins, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). A study of 20 million people showed that 10-20% of this population taking statins experienced side effects and in particular muscle type problems.
Most of the time these muscle disorders are not serious, but can disrupt the patient’s life (pain).
For the full list of side effects, please read the package insert and ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice when buying or taking statins.
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