By Dr. Mercola
A recent meta-analysis has demonstrated that taking statin drugs is associated with excess risk of developing diabetes.
Researchers looked at five different clinical trials that together examined more than 32,000 people. They found that the higher the dosage of statin drugs being taken, the greater the diabetes risk.
According to the study, as reported by Green Med Info:
“In a pooled analysis of data from 5 statin trials, intensive-dose statin therapy was associated with an increased risk of new-onset diabetes compared with moderate-dose statin therapy.”
Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
This recent meta-analysis of five different drug trials adds further credence to suspicions that statins may be contributing to the current epidemic of adult-onset diabetes. Statins, as most of you probably know, are the most popular cholesterol-lowering drugs available today.
They’re primarily thought of as “preventive medicine” to reduce your risk of heart disease. Many doctors also prescribe them if you have elevated C reactive protein (an indication that you have chronic inflammation in your body), and they’re even promoted for kids as young as eight years old!
The fact that statin drugs cause side effects is well established—there are some 900 studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut from muscle problems to increased cancer risk. But as we’re now starting to discover, statins may also cause diabetes…
Statins Increase Risk of Diabetes Onset, Researchers Find
The meta-analysis, published in JAMA in June, concluded that those taking higher doses of statins were at increased risk of diabetes compared to those taking moderate doses. What this means is that the higher your dose, the higher your risk of developing diabetes.
The “number needed to harm” for intensive-dose statin therapy was 498 for new-onset diabetes—that’s the number of people who need to take the drug in order for one person to develop diabetes. In even simpler terms, one out of every 498 people who are on a high-dose statin regimen will develop diabetes. (The lower the “number needed to harm,” the greater the risk factor is.)
(As a side note, the “number needed to treat” per year for intensive-dose statins was 155 for cardiovascular events. This means that 155 people have to take the drug in order to prevent one person from having a cardiovascular event.)
The following scientific reviews also reached the conclusion that statin use is associated with increased incidence of new-onset diabetes:
- A 2010 meta-analysis of 13 statin trials, consisting of 91,140 participants, found that statin therapy was associated with a 9 percent increased risk for incident diabetes. Here, the number needed to harm was 255 over four years, meaning for every 255 people on the drug, one developed diabetes as a result of the drug in that period of time.
- In this 2009 study, statin use was associated with a rise of fasting plasma glucose in patients with and without diabetes, independently of other factors such as age, and use of aspirin, β-blockers, or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. The study included data from more than 345,400 patients over a period of two years.On average, statins increased fasting plasma glucose in non-diabetic statin users by 7 mg/dL, and in diabetics, statins increased glucose levels by 39 mg/dL.
How Do Statins Cause Diabetes?
Statins appear to provoke diabetes through a few different mechanisms. The most important reason is that they increase your insulin levels, which can be extremely harmful to your health.
While you need some insulin to maintain your blood glucose levels, elevated insulin levels causes chronic inflammation in your body, and inflammation is the hallmark of most chronic diseases. In fact, elevated insulin levels lead to heart disease, which, ironically, is the primary reason for taking a cholesterol-reducing drug in the first place! It can also promote belly fat, high blood pressure, heart attacks, chronic fatigue, thyroid disruption, and diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Secondly, statins increase your diabetes risk by raising your blood sugar. When you eat a meal that contains starches and sugar, some of the excess sugar goes to your liver, which then stores it away as cholesterol and triglycerides. Statins work by preventing your liver from making cholesterol. As a result, your liver returns the sugar to your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar levels.
Statins also rob your body of certain valuable nutrients, which can also impact your blood sugar levels. Two nutrients in particular, vitamin D and CoQ10, are both needed to maintain ideal blood glucose levels.
Now, it’s important to realize that drug-induced diabetes and genuine type 2 diabetes are not necessarily identical.
If you’re on a statin drug and find that your blood glucose is elevated, it’s possible that what you have is just hyperglycemia—a side effect, and the result of your medication. Unfortunately, many doctors will at that point mistakenly diagnose you with “type 2 diabetes,” and possibly prescribe another drug, when all you may need to do is simply discontinue the statin in order for your blood glucose levels to revert back to normal. So if friends or loved ones you know are on a statin (and one in four Americans over 45 are) and they are told they have diabetes, please do them a favor and tell them about the information in this article.
Beware: Statins Decimate Health-Promoting Nutrients
It’s still uncertain whether statins actually deplete your body of vitamin D, but they do reduce your body’s natural ability to create active vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol). This is the natural outcome of the drug’s cholesterol-reducing ability, because you need cholesterol to make vitamin D! It’s the raw material your body uses for vitamin D conversion after you’ve exposed your skin to sunlight.
It’s also well-documented that vitamin D improves insulin resistance, so needless to say, when you take a statin drug, you forfeit this ‘built-in’ health-promoting mechanism.
Additionally, statins suppress your natural coenzyme Q10; also called “ubiquinol” in its active form. Produced mainly in your liver, it makes energy for every cell in your body, and it too plays a role in maintaining blood glucose. Depleting CoQ10 also increases your risk for heart failure, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Moreover, CoQ10 protects your body from oxidative stress, a strong contributing factor in the development of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart attacks.
That said, if you absolutely have to take a statin drug, you must make sure to also take ubiquinol in order to prevent CoQ10 deficiency and help protect against cellular damage.
Other Potential Side Effects of Statins
Aside from what I’ve already covered above, statin drugs are associated with a rather extensive list of harmful side effects, including:
|Weakness||Polyneuropathy (nerve damage in the hands and feet)||Acidosis||Dysfunction of the pancreas|
|Muscle aches and pains||Anemia||Sexual dysfunction||Cataracts|
|Rhabdomyolysis, a serious degenerative muscle tissue condition||Potential increase in liver enzymes so patients must be monitored for normal liver function||Suppressed immune function||Increased cancer risk|
Do You Really Need a Statin Drug?
That these drugs have dominated the market the way they have is a testimony to the power of marketing, corruption and massive conflict of interest, because the odds are very high— greater than 100 to 1—that if you’re taking a statin, you do NOT actually need it. It’s clearly one of the most over-prescribed drugs there are. There’s only one subgroup of people that might benefit from this drug and that’s those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, which makes them resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol.
In order to see past the propaganda, you must first understand that cholesterol is NOT the cause of heart disease. And if your physician is urging you to check your total cholesterol, then you should know that this test will tell you virtually nothing about your risk of heart disease, unless it is 330 or higher or you have a seriously distorted HDL/Cholesterol ratio.
Your body needs cholesterol. It’s important in the production of your cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories, and is vital to your neurological function. There is strong evidence that having too little cholesterol increases your risk for cancer, memory loss, Parkinson’s disease, hormonal imbalances, stroke, depression, suicide, and violent behavior.
The following ratios are FAR more potent indicators for heart disease, and are the ones you want to keep an eye on:
- HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: Should ideally be above 24 percent. If below 10 percent, you have a significantly elevated risk for heart disease.
- Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be below 2.
I have seen people with total cholesterol levels over 250 who were actually at low risk for heart disease due to their elevated HDL (so-called “good” cholesterol) levels. Conversely, I have seen many people with cholesterol levels under 200 who had a very high risk of heart disease, based on their low HDL.
How to Optimize Your Cholesterol Levels Without a Drug
It’s truly unfortunate that the drug industry’s media- and medical industry manipulation has been so successful in brainwashing both doctors and unsuspecting patients into taking these harmful drugs when so few people actually need them. Not to mention the fact that the most effective way to optimize your cholesterol profile and prevent heart disease is via diet and exercise.
It’s actually quite simple too. Seventy-five percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels.
Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol and reduce your risk of both diabetes and heart disease. As you’ve just learned, taking a statin drug can actually increase your risk of both of these diseases. And remember the “number needed to treat” that I mentioned earlier; in order to prevent a cardiovascular event in just one person, 155 people must be treated with the drug—all of them taking the risk of experiencing a potentially serious side effect… So, before you agree to take a statin drug, please evaluate the risks and benefits.
What are the chances you will be in the minority who will benefit? And what are your chances of suffering a potentially devastating side effect? Make a conscious, informed decision, and keep track of any side effects once you start taking the drug!
Also know that there are other ways to improve your cholesterol that do not put your health at risk. My primary recommendations for safely regulating your cholesterol include:
- Reduce, with the plan of eliminating grains and fructose from your diet. This is the number one way to optimize your insulin levels, which will have a positive effect on not just your cholesterol, but also reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and most other chronic diseases. Use my Nutrition Plan to help you determine the ideal diet for you, and consume a good portion of your food raw.
- Get plenty of high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil, and reduce your consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (trans fats, vegetable oils) to balance out your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
- Include heart-healthy foods in your diet, such as olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats.
- Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate peak fitness exercises, which also optimizes your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
- Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
- Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep.
Unlike statin drugs, which lower your cholesterol at the expense of your health, these lifestyle strategies represent a holistic approach that will benefit your overall health—which includes optimal insulin levels and a healthy cardiovascular system.
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