The diabetes risks attached to cholesterol lowering statins are far outweighed by their overall benefits to cardiovascular health, a study has shown.
Researchers from Glasgow University found that treating 255 people over four years with statins would result in one extra case of diabetes, but five of these people would have gone on to suffer coronary events if they had not been given the drug.
The study analysed 13 statin trials between 1994 and 2009 and found that the risk of developing type-2 diabetes, the most common form of the condition in the UK, rose by 9% compared with those that were not prescribed the drugs.
The study sheds light on the previously unproven theory that statins, often prescribed to middle-aged patients who are most at risk of suffering from high cholesterol and subsequent heart problems, increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Professor Naveed Satar and Dr David Preiss, writing in the Lancet, said that older people were at higher risk of developing diabetes and should be monitored more closely.
They concluded: “In view of the overwhelming benefit of statins for reduction of cardiovascular events, the small absolute risk for development of diabetes is outweighed by cardiovascular benefit in the short and medium term in individuals for whom statin therapy is recommended.”