Statins Can Increase the Risk of Diabetes, But Don't Produce Other Adverse Effects

Statins can cause diabetes, but other side effects are rare, according to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Although muscle pain and other harmful side effects have been previously linked to statins, a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology discovered diabetes is the only adverse effect of the cholesterol drugs.

For their study, researchers analyzed 29 placebo-controlled trials of statins that covered nearly 84,000 participants in total. Throughout the studies, there were no other statin-attributed symptoms; however, there was a 0.4% elevation of liver transaminase across all trials. Withdrawals and serious adverse events occurred in the studies, as well.

The investigators found new-onset diabetes was significantly higher for statin use than placebo, but they noted only 1 in 5 cases was caused by the statins. In addition, nearly all of the symptoms reported while taking statins occurred just as frequently while taking a placebo, and only a small minority of side effects resulted from statins.

Darrel Francis, MRCP, senior author of the study and professor of cardiology at the National Heart and Lunch Institute at Imperial College London, was surprised by the study results.

“You would think that if statins were causing lots of muscle aches, there would be less people taking placebo,” Francis said. “But it doesn’t actually increase.”

Francis also mentioned he hopes drug packaging will reflect which symptoms patients are truly more likely to experience while taking the drug, compared to placebo.