Does taking statins increase the risk of developing diabetes? Is having a heart attack the worst way to die? Cholesterol 10

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Statins reduce the risk of dying of a heart attack.  But only if we’ve have already had one.  Otherwise the risk of dying from all cause mortality goes up if we take statins.  Quite frankly, when pain and suffering is taken into account, is it better to die from a heart attack or from cancer, diabetes,  a stroke or congestive heart failure?  The video clip is referring to a new study published  9th Jan 2012. 1  The study was lead by Dr Yunsheng Ma of the university of Massachusettes using data from the Women’s Health Initiative, a huge study that ran for 6-7 years. It found that the women taking statins were 1.5 times more likely to develop diabetes than those women not taking statins.  Dr Ma said

We found statins increased the risk of diabetes about 48% after adjusting for different risk factors, such as family history of diabetes mellitus, BMI and physical activity.  It’s a moderate risk.

Dr Suzanne Steinbaum, director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital,  is reported as saying

Women on statins should watch their intake of sugar, starches and carbs to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  Ask your doctor, “Is the statin really necessary?”

The point is that it has been repeatedly found that statins help those who have already have a heart attack.    It has also been repeatedly found that as we age, we are healthier if we are a bit heavier and with higher cholesterol levels.  As I said in the cholesterol blog 2,  it is not overall levels of cholesterol that matter or the total LDL or HDL numbers.  It is the break down of cholesterol that matters.  Lp(a) levels matter.   If  total cholesterol levels change – either upwards or downwards, it is showing that there is something wrong in the body, that the liver is either making more of the stuff, or is not making enough.  Taking statins to alter these numbers is like shooting the messenger: cholesterol is vital to human life – we die if we do not have enough.   Of course, who am I to be saying this?  So go, read the book the Great Cholesterol Con by the Scottish GP, Dr Malcolm Kendrick.  Its a funny book on a very serious subject.

All the researchers involved in this study agreed that taking statins increased the risk of developing diabetes in older females.  And previous studies have found that men also have a 10 – 12% increased risk of diabetes.  They don’t know why this should be so.  They posit that it may be the effect statins have on the liver and the muscles cause the body to make more sugar than normal or it may be that these effects cause the users to exercise less – ‘cos their muscles hurt too much.

So if taking statins, then it is important to follow a low carbohydrate type diet.  If taking statins and there has never been a heart attack, nor is there a family history of heart attacks, especially if female, then the question really must be asked, why am I taking these things?  The major cause of heart attacks is stress.   Eat properly: cook it yourself from scratch.  Eat a varied diet including red meat and fat.  And actively aim to reduce stress levels everyday.  There are so many ways to do this and it doesn’t necessarily mean sitting on your bottom for an hour chanting ‘Ommmmmm’.

  1. Culver A L, Ockene IS et al.  Statin use and risk of diabetes mellitus in post menopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative.  Arc Intern Med. Jan 9 2012  Abstr.  If  ‘statins increase risk of  women developing  diabetes’ is typed into a google search, many press articles will be found reporting on this study. []

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