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Statins more than double the risk for diabetes in the healthy

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Statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs, can more than double the risk of diabetes in healthy people. The drugs are often prescribed as a just-in-case therapy to prevent heart disease in the over-50s.

Although it’s been known for some time that the drugs can cause diabetes, it had always been thought that it affected only those who were at greater risk anyway.

But a new study has discovered the drugs more than double the risk of diabetes, and also for diabetes with complications, in healthy people. The raised risk was most commonly seen with Zocor (simvastatin).

Researchers from Veterans Affairs North Texas Health System tracked the health of nearly 26,000 veterans, 22,000 of whom had been prescribed a statin. Their health was tracked against the non-statin users for nine years.

Those taking statins were 250 per cent more likely to develop diabetes, and they also had a 14 per cent increased chance of putting on weight or becoming obese.

Although statins are still important drugs for people with heart problems, healthy people might instead look to improve their diet and losing weight or exercising before popping a pill, the researchers say.

(Source: Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2015; doi: 10.1007/s11606-015-3335-1)

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