By: Cat Ebeling, BSN,co-author of the best-sellers: The Fat Burning Kitchen,The Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging&The Diabetes Fix
If you have type 2 diabetes and you take a statin drug, you might start noticing a phrase that’s ridiculously overused…
“The benefits outweigh the risks.” Has your doctor ever said that to you?
There are plenty of risks and they’re all serious health issues. Actually the risks FAR outweigh the benefits. ESPECIALLY if you already have type 2 diabetes.
Statins are the primary drug that doctors prescribe to lower cholesterol. Statins are a fairly recent pharmaceutical creation that work by blocking an enzyme in the liver that is responsible for making cholesterol.
Statins became one of the most-prescribed medications when the guidelines for the high end of total cholesterol guidelines were reduced down to 200 a few years ago.
Now, tens of millions of Americans are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, thinking this is the best way to prevent heart disease. In fact, about 30 percent of American men and women over age 40 take a statin.
The problem is that statins come with a host of side effects which can be pretty significant. One of the more serious side effects of statins is the significant increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The latest study on this connection shows the link may be even stronger than was previously reported.
Researchers prospectively studied 8,567 men and women whose average age was 64. All were free of diabetes and not taking statins when the study started. In a follow-up study 15 years later, about 12 percent of the group had started taking statins, most using either Zocor or Lipitor (simvastatin or atorvastatin) and the rest either Pravachol or Lescol (pravastatin or fluvastatin). Most took the statins for over a year, and 716 new cases of diabetes occurred in the group.
After controlling for age, sex, smoking, family history of diabetes, and other factors, researchers found that statin use was associated with higher risk for insulin resistance and high blood sugar, and with a 38 percent increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.
The brand of statin and the dosage made no difference, but the risk was especially high for statin users who were overweight or obese—which is of course an increased risk for type 2 diabetes as well. The study appeared in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Other recent research also shows a similar causal link between elevated blood glucose, type 2 diabetes and statins as well.
Here’s the key thing to take away—the number one risk factor of having type 2 diabetes is heart disease.
Adults with type 2 diabetes are about two to four times as likely to die from heart disease as adults who do not have diabetes.
So the question is–if you were told to take statins to lower your cholesterol and chances of heart disease, but it actually increases your chance of developing type 2 diabetes, is it worth it to take statins?
How do Statins increase risk of diabetes?
Statins have been shown to increase your risk of diabetes through a few different mechanisms. The most important one is they increase insulin resistance, which can be extremely harmful to your health. Increased insulin resistance contributes to chronic inflammation in your body, and inflammation is the hallmark of most diseases.
In fact, increased insulin resistance can lead to heart disease, which, ironically, is the primary reason for taking a cholesterol-reducing drug in the first place! It can also promote weight gain, 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 actually 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, raising blood sugar levels.
If you’re on a statin drug and find that your blood glucose is elevated, it is possible that you may just have hyperglycemia—a side effect, or result of your statin medication. Unfortunately, many doctors will often mistakenly diagnose you with type 2 diabetes, and possibly prescribe a diabetes drug, like metformin or insulin.
Discontinuing the statin will help to determine if blood glucose levels are caused by the statin. Be sure to check in with the physician, however, before stopping any prescribed medication.
Statins are well-known for the muscle weakness and pain they can cause, but statins can affect much more than just the muscles and blood sugar. Many people have reported cognitive problems and memory loss as a result of statin medication.
Other potential side effects of statins include: kidney problems, anemia, sexual dysfunction, immune depression, cataracts, increased cancer risk, abnormal liver enzymes and depression.
The other ironic, and contradictory fact about statins and heart health is the fact that statins deplete your body of CoQ10. CoQ10 is an essential cofactor in the body that is essential for the creation of ATP, which is what every cell in the body uses for energy production.
This is especially important for muscles—especially the heart muscle. CoQ10 is produced primarily in the liver and it also plays a role in maintaining blood glucose as well. As the body gets more and more depleted of CoQ10, it causes extreme fatigue, muscle weakness and achiness, and can even lead to heart failure.
Physicians seem to be blissfully unaware of this risk, and don’t usually discuss with patients the importance of supplementing with extra CoQ10. CoQ10 is also necessary to neutralize free radicals in the body, which damage the cell’s DNA and their reproduction. It’s a vicious cycle to have low CoQ10, no cellular energy (this translates to no energy overall!) and damaged DNA.
In addition, the muscle fatigue and pain make it difficult to be motivated to do any amount of exercise, further weakening the cardiovascular system and the muscles.
Statin drugs also interfere with necessary and vital biological functions, including hormone pathways. Statins affect the sex hormones, cortisone, and vitamin D. Statins actually interfere with your body’s natural ability to create vitamin D, which is related to cholesterol. It’s a fact that vitamin D actually helps improve insulin resistance, so a reduction in vitamin D also removes this protective factor, opening the door a bit wider for type 2 diabetes.
Do I Really Need to Lower My Cholesterol?
Total cholesterol values are only a very small part of the picture of your chances of heart disease, but unfortunately conventional medical doctors use total cholesterol numbers to base their decision to recommend statins.
It’s become common knowledge that cholesterol is not the primary cause of heart disease. In fact, three large reviews show the errors in the generally held theory that cholesterol causes heart disease. And this study, also shows no real link between cholesterol and heart disease. In fact, to the contrary, it’s been shown that low cholesterol contributes more to all-cause mortality in older adults, not high cholesterol.
Having a lipid panel that shows you have higher than normal total cholesterol then, is not any kind of predictor of your risk of heart disease, unless it is over 350. The ONLY people who may benefit from cholesterol-lowering practices are those with a genetic type of very high cholesterol.
The High Density Lipoproteins or HDL, number is a far more reliable indicator for heart disease risk. Here are the two ratios to check on your lipid panel:
- 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.
Many people with total cholesterol levels over 250 are actually at low risk for heart disease because of their high levels of protective HDL, and many people with low cholesterol under 200, can be at high risk for heart disease because of their high LDL and triglycerides.
Actually the conventional LDL/cholesterol hypothesis is not entirely accurate, because damage of the interior layers of your arteries always precedes heart disease, and this damage can be induced by a number of factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and inflammation.
Once the artery is damaged, cholesterol-rich plaque begins to build up as a protective mechanism. Problems arise when the rate of damage to the vessels and blood clot formation outpace your body’s ability to repair the blood vessels.
Your body actually needs a good amount of cholesterol—it is important in the production of cell membranes, all of your hormones—especially sex hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that help you to digest fat.
Cholesterol also helps your brain work properly and is vital to healthy nerve function. There is also plenty of evidence that having low levels of cholesterol increases your risk for cancer, memory loss, Parkinson’s disease, hormonal imbalances, stroke, depression, suicide, and violent behavior.
If your doctor recommends you take statins to lower your cholesterol, think twice about that. There are many ways to protect your health with a healthy, low carb/low sugar diet, high in antioxidant rich veggies, that will also protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and many other diseases. Statins don’t seem to be the best solution.
If you are concerned about taking Statins, and want to try a natural approach to control your cholesterol, and not worry about heart disease, diabetes and many others, please take time read this important health article.
1 Simple trick to REVERSE your Diabetes (this also helps reduce abdominal fat)
If you’re on 80 mg of statin because your cardiologist insisted that you are to be due to your recent stint, how can you justify just not taking it or just not take it. He and my primary physician say that I’ll ALWAYS be on it, especially after having a stint. I’d like to stop taking it but don’t know if there would be risks involved.
Incurred a blood in nov 2019. Currently take statin and
Blood thinner. Installed statin, are their any other options other than statin!
Yes. .Ezetrol 10mg
Lowered my cholesterol
from5.15 to 3.83 in 3 weeks!
Also drinking more water.
i would love to know the same thing. i want to stop taking this junk drug, stents were put in in february, now it’s june. what are the risks of stopping?
I had a stent put in and they said —-now I need to statin to keep the stent from getting blocked. What to do.
I am on 10 mg Rosuva daily after a triple bypass – for life according to my cardiologist and heart surgeon !!!
What is the natural alternative ??
I stopped taking statins several years ago after reading an article that said statins were not recommended for seniors. After talking to my doctor, he agreed I could get off statins and see what happened. High triglycerides and high cholesterol persisted but DID NOT CHANGE. I later learned that high triglyceride levels were an indicator of insulin resistance, leading to pre-diabetes in December 2019. A year later, probably exacerbated by poor eating habits during COVID shutdown, I was diagnosed with diabetes and prescribed medication. I never took it. Instead, I researched insulin resistance, began checking my glucose levels, and started a Keto diet, keeping my carb intake to 50 grams per day. Within THREE MONTHS my glucose, A1C, cholesterol, triglycerides—even TSH—ALL went down to normal levels!! I also lost 10 pounds in the process! My NEW endocrinologist was astounded and said this proved that diabetes could be reversed and wished all his patients did what I had done. I hope this helps someone out there.
I did keto diet and lost 16 kg and reversed Type2 Diabetes and stopped taking a statin and reduced by 1/4 my dose of blood pressure meds. I learnt about keto from Drs podcasts on youtube
What is the alternative to taking a statin drug ?
Hi I have researched and trialed my statin blood pressures as I have noticed 5he higher mg taken like double has caused me memory issues 3 years ago I found the colestral pill caused a throbbing and ache in my leg mussels for 12 years and stopped within 48 hours of stopping the pill. Disgusting as had been telling my doctors they could not understand what was happening at last my legs great but as still taking statin in my blood pressure pills at 16 mg memory fine at 32mg cannot remember simply words.
I was told by my diabetic nurse that I should be taking the Atovastatin perscribed by the surgery I was under when diabetes was identified, but after reading what dangers there are taking this statin I ceased taking it and I’m continuing not taking it.
What I need to know is why do Doctors and diabetic nurses insist that diabetics should take this statin ??????
i was told the same after an ablation i was feeling soo sick and the brain fog was horrible i couldn’t string a sentence together i told my Gp and she said cut the Crestor 20mg in half and have 1/2 every other day so i did that for a few weeks and my blood sugars dropped and then i thought ill just take none cause i wasn’t feeling myself so i gave them up all together and have been feeling great no more brain fog and diabetes in remission …. Drs are hard up on Blood thinners and statins ok i get the blood thinners and knowing that i will have to be on Pradaxa for the rest of my life doesn’t sit right with me but i am also guessing these medications we take are not to cure us but a band aid to keep us comfortable along with other side effects that come with them as for statins there are sooo many alternative ways to lower cholesterol …
My cholesterol is normal. I am taking a statin for high triglyerides. I think this article is all wrong. Things happening together do not imply causation.
Actually, this article is NOT all wrong, Zio Vito. Statins have been proven to take out one’s CoEnzyme Q10, which causes more heart risk. I was told to take a statin. I chose to take more organic vitamins– EPA gels, garlic tablets, etc. made by SHAKLEE. I lowered my triglycerides down to 31, my good HDL was raised to 80, both excellent numbers, but my total cholesterol was still over 200. So then I took a calcium test to prove that ALL MY ARTERIES were clear!! I was never told to take a statin again! Why put stress on your body with a chemical drug that removes your natural, protective vitamins? Your immune system is the most important thing to good health. Statins do not build your cells!
Taking statins a long time. I was never instructed to take coq10. It’s as though you have to be in charge of yourself. Next visit I will be asking these questions. Thanks for information like this!
Try exercising on a regular basis and your triglycerides will normalize and statins are dangerous and there are many other studies that support the facts in this article. The pharmaceutical industry pours millions of dollars into medical schools which is where the prescription drug indoctrination begins and there is a lot more that is done to influence doctors in prescribing many drugs all have side effects some more serious than others so you simply have to do what’s you feel is best for you period.
I was taking something for cholesterol and my neurologist took me off of it.
I have generalized Dystonia and was making my Spasms worse
I went from 40mg to 80mg for high cholesterol, iam taking atorvastatin.My numbers now are normal, should l stop taking this medicine? I believe l should based on these findings. I know you say consult with your doctor, but they going to say keep taking it.What information do you have on lorsartsn potassium and metoprolol succinate er?
I’m taking atorvastatin and have been for years for cholesterol and triglyerides. I’m not diabetic but pre-diabetic. No one in my family has ever been diabetic. My cholesterol is normal but triglyerdies a bit high. I wasn’t happy to learn that my pre-diabetes could be caused by my statin. After I lost 30 pounds everything went down: chol., blood pressure, etc. I’m going to show this article to my doctor. Is there any statin or other medicine that doesn’t cause diabetes?
Niacin is a natural alternative to statins.
I have been taking Atovastatin for about 15 years and have the side effects that are mentioned in the article above. I went off Atovastatin and had a small stroke and doctors told me, if I want to live, I need to take the statin, so I went back on. I had my blood test done last month My doctor told me to stay on the Statin that I’ve been taking because it proves it will save my life (my blood tests numbers came out were they should be). I really want to get off of them. Is there any help for me? I am 71 years old. I have the brain fog, loosing memory, no energy, muscles sore and weak, and etc.) Tired of it.
High cholesterol runs in my family. I am #8 in a family of 10. ALL of my older siblings were on statins, thinking to get ahead of the game. I was put on them early, in my late 20’s. My body did not tolerate them, massive body aches, excessive sleep, extreeme carb cravings and they did NOTHING for my elevated chol. levels. I tried several different brands/doses, finally said ENOUGH. Doc suggested a vegan diet, not happening. I do keep my beef consumption to a minimum (who can affford it anyway?). In the meantime. The 7 siblings ahead of me and the 2 following me, have developed diabetes. My sugar levels in fact ALL my levels except chol are well within normal ranges. I am currently taking Gemfibrozil that the Dr. is happy with my lower LDL and Trigliceride levels. 5 of the 10 of us have passed on, we are currently waiting for a brother in hospice to join them. You have to remember, they only PRACTICE medicine, treat a condition and everyone gets rich. Cure it, you only get paid once!
Thank you for the article on statins and type 2 diabetes, my doctor put me on atorvastatin and now my doctor tells me I have type 2 diabetes and has put me on metformin also! I am stopping the damn statins, today!
Same thing happened to me. They have me on a cholesterol medicine and now I am on diabetes medicine. I’m just gonna quit taking it too! I have another blood test the end of October and we’ll see if it makes a difference.
Why is the ratio for Triglycerides to HDL required to be less than 2 when an acceptable number for each element can produce ratios between 0.8 to 3.8?
Could statins initiate or aggravate Alzheimer symptoms?
I was put on Atorvastatin a few years ago – 20 mg not for high cholesterol but because I had a retinal branch vein occlusion in my left eye which has deteriorated the vision in that eye. (I think the real cause was a very bad fall where I hit my head a year before the diagnosis.) I was also put on aspirin supposedly as a blood thinner. I carried on taking the statin because it’s scary losing vision and I wanted to protect my ‘good’ eye. Does anyone have any comments?