Statins, PCSK9s, diabetes and heart disease

There were two interesting statin stories this week. On Friday March 17th 2017, the front page of the UK Express newspaper had the headline “Statins raise diabetes risk”. On the same day, the BBC web site reported “’Huge advance’ in fighting world’s biggest killer”. The first story emanated from this journal article in Nature. The second came from the New England Medical Journal.

Statins and diabetes – the background

The JUPITER (Justification for the Use of statins in Prevention, an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin) trial (Ridker et al 2008) reported that some participants using rosuvastatin developed (type 2) diabetes. Sattar et al (2008) undertook a meta-analysis of 13 trials involving 91,000 people and showed that statins were associated with a 9% (relative risk) increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D). In January 2012, a publication from the Women’s Health Initiative study found a 50% increase in new onset T2D for postmenopausal women taking statins, as compared with those not taking statins. A 2013 study of 1.5 million Canadian residents concluded “Statin use is linked to increased risk of developing diabetes.” This study put the relative risk at 10-22%.


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