Study indicates cholesterol-controlling meds linked to diabetes

MILWAUKEE -- A new study indicates a link between some people who use statins and the development of diabetes in post-menopausal women. Statins are drugs used to control cholesterol. Lipitor is the number one medication sold in the world, and Lipitor is a statin, so with the popularity of this drug and other statins for controlling cholesterol, doctors are warning patients, of the danger of developing diabetes.

Lipitor's status as a statin is a cause of continuing concern among physicians, such as Dr. Shrinivas Murthy, a director of preventative cardiology for the Aurora Medical Group.

A statin is a drug that inhibits an enzyme in the liver, which synthesizes or makes cholesterol.

Wednesday, Dr. Murthy reacted to the results of a study which links the use of statins with a higher rate of diabetes in post-menopausal women. Dr. Murthy says other studies have indicated the presence of such a link, but by taking 12 years, this study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, is among the longest.

In the study, more than 150,000 U.S. women, ages 50 to 79 of various ethnicity were monitored, and those who used any kind of statin were 48 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those not using statins.

Dr. Murthy says the annual sale of statins is probably close to $25 billion a year, and says people shouldn't necessarily stop taking statins, but they should improve their diet and lifestyle to help reduce their risk of high cholesterol and other potential health problems which require drugs for treatment.

"All drugs are potential poisons. There is no drug that's absolutely safe. If you want to avoid that drug, get healthier. Healthy people don't need medications," Murthy said.

Dr. Murthy suggests statin users should avoid cigarettes, eat healthy diets and exercise regularly to help reduce their risk of developing diabetes.