July 1, 2014

More Evidence on Statins Causing Diabetes

Now that the link has been proven linking statins to causing diabetes, why is our government agencies doing nothing to bring a halt to statin use. Or at least slowing the rate of prescriptions until the new statins can be produced that don't cause diabetes. My only conclusion is that the medical profession would object because they believe that statins are the end-all for heart health and diabetes be damned.

A research team from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada may have found a novel way to suppress the side effect of causing diabetes. The researchers discovered one of the pathways that link statins to diabetes. Their findings could lead to the next generation of statins by informing potential combination therapies while taking the drug.

"But the side effects of statins can be far worse than not being able to eat grapefruit. Recently, an increased risk of diabetes has been added to the warning label for statin use. This was perplexing to us because if you are improving your metabolic profile with statins you should actually be decreasing the incidence of diabetes with these drugs, yet, the opposite happened."

The researchers found that statins activated a very specific immune response, which stopped insulin from doing its job properly. So we connected the dots and found that combining statins with another drug on top of it, Glyburide (one of the generic sulfonylureas), suppressed this side effect. The lead researcher says the finding has the potential to develop new targets for this immune pathway that does not interfere with the benefits of statins.

What is very plain from the lead researcher is not to worry about statins and he is promoting more research to find more out about statins and develop new strategies to minimize side effects. The lead research says the next stage of their research is to understand how statins promote diabetes by understanding how they work in the pancreas, which secretes insulin. They also hope to understand if this immune pathway is involved in other side effects of statins, such as muscle pain and life-threatening muscle breakdown.

The lead researcher also believes, “With the new federal warning label on the risk of diabetes with statin usage, people are heavily debating its pros and cons. We think this is the wrong conversation to have. Statins are a great drug for many people. What we really should be talking about is how to make them better and we are beginning to understand the basic biology of statins so we can do just that.”

The research is published in the medical journal Diabetes and was supported by funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

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