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Are Statins Linked to Higher Diabetes Risk?

June 27, 2019

Statin use is associated with an increased risk of new-onset diabetes (NOD), according to the results of a recent study.1

While statins are one of the most widely prescribed medications worldwide, concerns about the drugs’ associations with dysglycemia and NOD still remain.

To explore this association further, researchers examined data from a cohort reflecting real-world physician prescribing patterns (including 7064 individuals with indications for statin use).

Overall, a higher prevalence of elevated HbA1c was observed among incident users of statins without diabetes, and further, statin users had a higher risk of developing NOD (average hazard ratio [AHR] 2.20). Individuals who took statins for 2 years or longer had the greatest risk of developing NOD (AHR 3.33).

“The fact that increased duration of statin use was associated with an increased risk of diabetes – something we call a dose-dependent relationship – makes us think that this is likely a causal relationship,” said lead author of the study Victoria Zigmont, who is a graduate student at The Ohio State University.2

“That said, statins are very effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes. I would never recommend that people stop taking the statin they’ve been prescribed based on this study, but it should open up further discussions about diabetes prevention and patient and provider awareness of the issue,” she concluded.

—Michael Potts


  1. Zigmont VA, Shoben AB, Lu B, et al. Statin users have an elevated risk of dysglycemia and new‐onset‐diabetes [published online May 24, 2019]. Diabetes Metab Res Rev.
  2. Cholesterol medication could invite diabetes, study suggests [press release]. June 25, 2019.
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