A major study has reported that women who use statins have a much higher risk of developing diabetes mellitus(DM) when compared women who do not. This is one the results obtained in the Women’s Health Initiative(WHI) which is being conducted in the USA(1).

The WHI recruited 161,808 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years at 40clinical centres across the USA between 1993 and 1998.

This study is based on an analysis of data available up to 2005 from 153,840 participants. Of these 10,834 were statin users. The average age of all those involved was just over 63 years. Those who used statins had an incidence of DM which was 71% higher than those who did not. The increased risk of DM was observed for all types of statin. There was no difference between high- and low-potency statins.

One particularly interesting feature of the results was the relatively high risk of developing DM in those who had a BMI of 25 or less. This BMI is considered to be the ideal but nevertheless statin users had more than double the risk of developing DM as compared with the non-users.

TABLE 1 VARIATION IN RELATIVE RISK OF DEVELOPING DIABETES WITH BODY MASS INDEX(BMI)

BMI STATIN USER RELATIVE RISK
<25.0 YES 2.50
NO 1.00(Reference)
25.0-29.9 YES 1.91
NO 1.00(Reference)
>30.0 YES 1.23
NO 1.00(Reference)

 

It is absolutely crucial to recognise that there is no reliable evidence to demonstrate that the use of statins in women is in any way beneficial to health. The main justification for prescribing statins is that they lower blood cholesterol(TC) and the LDL Cholesterol which is true. However the argument that that reducing cholesterol will reduce the risk of heart disease is based on extremely dubious foundations. In fact, in women over about 60 years old a high TC is almost certainly beneficial. There is plenty of reliable research which shows that the higher the TC the greater the life expectancy!

REFERENCE

  1. A L Culver et al (2012) Archives of Internal Medicine 177 (2) pp144-152