The cholesterol-lowering drug can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin resistance and impairing the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin. Sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, overweight, and obesity are the major risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
A study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism,
showed that the risk of diabetes was increased with the higher dosage of the statin drugs taken. Two commonly used statin drugs simvastatin (Zocor) and atorvastatin (Lipitor) were investigated. The study found that high-dosage of simvastatin and atorvastatin increased the risk of developing diabetes by 44 percent and 37 percent respectively. A low dosage of simvastatin increased the risk of diabetes by 37 percent.
‘Physical fitness may protect those who take cholesterol-lowering statins from developing statin-induced Type 2 diabetes.
Physical Fitness Lowers Risk of Developing Statin-Induced Diabetes
In the current study, researchers studied 5,143 veterans who didn't have diabetes but were at risk for the disease. The veterans were divided into five fitness categories based on their exercise performance. The fitness categories were the least fit, low fit and moderately fit, to fit and highly fit.
The researchers found that among people with high cholesterol, statins increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. The risk of developing diabetes was similar in the three least-fit categories (least fit, low fit and moderately fit).
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes was lower among those in the fit category when compared to those in the least fit category. People who were categorized as 'highly fit' had a 42 percent reduction in diabetes risk compared to the least fit.
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreased progressively as the participants' cardiorespiratory fitness improved. The researchers said that the risk of diabetes was not seen at all among people who were categorized to the fit and highly fit groups.
"The risk of developing diabetes while being treated with statins for high cholesterol can be decreased among high-risk adults by improving their fitness status," said researchers.
The preliminary study was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016.