Anti-cholesterol drugs 'increase diabetes risk'

Candy Bellinger

The news these days is filled with the latest obesity figures and new ways to beat cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. But according to the latest research, those cholesterol-busting wonder drugs may help to prevent a heart attack but they'll increase your chances of developing diabetes.

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A review of the available evidence revealed that statins could cause a 9 per cent increase in the risk of diabetes.
Currently, around 2.5 million people in Britain take the medication, called a "wonder" drug, which works by reducing cholesterol levels in the body and thereby the risk of heart attacks.

Previous studies have also shown that the risk of suffering a blood clot is dramatically reduced. But researchers from the University of Glasgow, who studied 13 previous studies, involving more than 91,000 patients, discovered that the drug could also be associated with a slight increased diabetes risk.

However, they stressed that people prescribed statins should not stop taking their medication as the benefits far outweighed the risks. In fact the results, published by The Lancet, showed that 255 patients would have to be treated with statins for four years to result in just one extra case of diabetes.

Dr Iain Frame, from Diabetes UK, told The Telegraph: "This small increased risk is heavily outweighed by the benefits of statins in those at high risk of heart problems. This research, therefore, should on no account be taken as a reason for those over 60 at high risk of heart disease to stop taking statins."

So is such research really worth the cost, or does the risk of potential problems, however small, justify the science?