We’ve written prolifically over the years about the many side effects of statins, the class of medication used to lower cholesterol. This new study delves further into the well-established connection between the use of statins and diabetes. The problem is, diabetes is a disease that puts you at greater risk for a heart attack. Let me explain…
What Is Diabetes?
To understand diabetes, it’s important to distinguish between type-1 and type-2 diabetes. While in both cases, we’re dealing with not enough of the glucose-regulating insulin hormone being produced, which means the body is unable to regulate its own blood sugar, they are, in fact, two entirely different diseases.
In type-1 diabetes, the body sees its own beta cells (insulin-producing cells) in the pancreas as foreign invaders and sends in its immune cells to attack and destroy them, similarly to how they would fight off a bacteria or virus. Type-1 diabetes falls under the large umbrella of autoimmune diseases (meaning, a hyperactive immune system that attacks its own otherwise healthy cells and tissues), and those with type-1 diabetes are dependent on insulin medication to resupply the body with the insulin it is unable to naturally produce.
In the significantly more common type-2 diabetes, those beta cells in the pancreas are still producing insulin as usual, it’s just no longer enough to control the blood sugar. Insulin resistance occurs when then blood sugar can no longer be lowered by the normal levels of insulin. Type-2 diabetes often then occurs as a result of metabolic disease due to preventable health conditions, such as obesity and high blood pressure, and, as such, this form of diabetes is associated with many high-risk diseases, such as strokes, heart diseases and heart attacks, and so on. Type-2 diabetes is the one we will be focused on today.
Statins are cholesterol-lowering medications, and as often as physicians push these meds, you’d think they were miracle drugs. Indeed, many industry-funded studies can be found that purport they cut the relative risk (RR) of heart attack by as much as one-third to one-half. But the question we need to ask is, one-third or one-half of what? And what exactly is relative risk?
Basically, if your risk of a heart attack was 3%, according to these studies, statins may drop it to 2%. In other words, statins may lower your heart attack risk a measly 1% over three and a half years (take this out to five years, and this statin benefit can drop to 0.3% or lower). That one-third to one-half or less, therefore, is just a percentage of a percentage! So this RR is a creative illusion of the trade, making the numbers seem higher than what they really are, and for those who don’t understand the research terminology, they rely on the industry marketing to do it for them. Big Pharma, however, just wants to sell more drugs.
An argument could be made that lower risk is lower risk, regardless how miniscule; however, as with any drug, it’s important to weigh the benefits against the risk of the drug itself, and statins, unfortunately, carry a lot of dangerous risks, such as the following:
I cover more on statins in my video below:
Both direct and indirect links between statins and heart disease have also been previously found. One study found that statins may actually cause calcifications in the coronary arteries and deplete critical heart-health nutrients, such as vitamin K2 and selenium, suggesting statins may be directly responsible for clogged arteries and even congestive heart failure.
Today’s feature study below isn’t the first time these widely prescribed statin drugs have been linked to diabetes and, therefore, heart attack risk. In 2015, I covered another study that found dramatic increases in diabetes over eight to nine years in those taking statins. Today’s study continues to confirm what we already know about statins: they increase the risk for diabetes. What does all of this have to do with heart disease and the risk of heart attack? Diabetes is one of the leading causes of heart disease today. Let’s review the new study.
The purpose of the new study was to provide a deeper investigation on the already well-established links between statins and type-2 diabetes. The study consisted of new users of statins who did not have a diagnosis of diabetes at the start of the study and covered a 15-year period between 1997 and 2012. The results? When compared to those not using statins, those on statins were found to be at a significantly higher risk of insulin resistance and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and had a 38% higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
Though the increased risk of diabetes is concerning enough, with diabetes comes all of those serious well-associated health risks, such as heart disease and heart attack, stroke, and so on. So let me get this straight, Big Pharma. You want me to take a drug to reduce my risk of dying from a heart attack that makes me have a higher risk of getting a disease that can cause a heart attack?
Once we deconstruct many of those neatly packaged industry-sponsored miracle-drug studies, it can be quite an eye-opener as to what we’re really getting. Thankfully, there are other ways to reduce cardiac risk, like exercise, diet, and supplements, that you may consider discussing with your doctor.
The upshot? You want me to take a drug to reduce my risk of dying from a heart attack that makes me have a higher risk of getting a disease that can cause a heart attack? You just can’t make this stuff up!
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About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…