Thursday, January 19, 2012

Statins could be linked to increased risk of diabetes

They're treading gingerly here. Once they start talking about statin side-effects, it will open up a real can of worms. The side effects are so numerous that statins will almost certainly eventually be found to reduce lifespans among those who actually take them.

A lot of people who are prescribed them throw them out after a couple of days because of the side effects on memory, muscle tone etc. They may not always tell their doctor that, however.

Journal article here

Cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins may be linked to an increased risk of diabetes in middle-aged and older women, according to a U.S. study. However, researchers said the benefits of the heart attack-reducing drugs still make them valuable for people at risk.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that among the thousands of women looked at, those who reported using any kind of statin at the start of the seven-year study were nearly 50 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those not taking statins.

'Statin medication use in postmenopausal women is associated with an increased risk for diabetes mellitus,' wrote Yunsheng Ma of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, and his colleagues.

The group used data from the Women's Health Initiative, including more than 150,000 diabetes-free women in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

As part of that larger trial, some of the women were prescribed diet changes or took daily hormone therapy or vitamins, while others weren't told to change their diet or lifestyle.

At the start of the study in the mid-1990s, the women filled out health questionnaires that included whether or not they were taking statins, as well as information on other diabetes risks, such as weight and activity levels. The researchers then followed participants for six to seven years, on average.

In total, just over 10,200 women developed diabetes, with women who reported using any kind of statin - about one in 14 of the participants - 48 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those not taking statins.

That was after considering other known diabetes risks.

Previous studies, mostly in men, have suggested a smaller 10-to-12 per cent increase in diabetes among statin users, said Naveed Sattar, a metabolism and diabetes researcher at the University of Glasgow who did not take part in the study.

Those numbers may be more accurate because they come from trials in which participants were randomly assigned to take a statin or not, which can better account for possible differences in groups of patients, he said, noting that this kind of observational study can't prove cause-and-effect.

The high cholesterol levels that caused the women to take statins may be responsible for the onset of diabetes - rather than the statins themselves. Still, 'broadly speaking, this kind of confirms that statins may well increase diabetes risk,' Sattar said.

The reasons why remain unclear, but the effect of statins on the muscles and liver may lead the body to make slightly more sugar than it normally would, or cause users to exercise a bit less, he added.

While this means that a bit more caution may need to be taken in broad statin use, the benefits still outweigh the potential risk for people with heart disease, he and other experts aid.

Instead, statin users should try to reduce their risk of diabetes in other ways, such as by losing weight and getting more exercise, and should have their blood sugar regularly monitored.

'The conclusion still stands that overall, those people who've got existing heart disease or have had previous strokes, they still would get vast benefit from statins,' Sattar said.


Coffee 'reduces risk of diabetes… but decaff works best

If you are a rat

Drinking coffee can help reduce the risk of diabetes, say scientists. A study found three compounds contained in the beverage can block the toxic build up of a protein, which is known to trigger the long-term condition.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin for it to function properly but the coffee extracts were also shown to prevent insulin-producing cells from being destroyed. Researchers now believe the coffee extracts - caffeine, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid - could help develop more effective treatment.

Lead researcher Kun Huang from Huazhong University of Science and Technology said: 'We found three major coffee compounds can reverse this toxic process and may explain why coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.'

All of the compounds were shown to have a positive effect during laboratory tests, however caffeine was the least effective of the three. As a result Huang states that decaffeinated coffee could be more beneficial than regular options.

Huang added: 'In decaffeinated coffee, the percentage contents of caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid are even higher [than in regular coffee], whereas the level of caffeine is greatly reduced.

'We expect that decaffeinated coffee has at least equal or even higher beneficial effect compared to the regular caffeinated types.'

The new study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, supports previous studies which have found people who drink four or more cups of coffee a day have a 50 per cent lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Despite the findings Joe Vinson from the University of Scranton, highlights that the concentrations of coffee compounds used in the Chinese study are much higher than those found in a typical coffee consumption.

Researchers now plan on carrying out further studies in animals and humans to better understand the link between coffee consumption and reduced risk of diabetes.

Diabetes affects 2.8 million people in the UK and it is thought that a further one million people have the condition but are unaware of it. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity and can often be controlled by following a healthy diet and monitoring blood glucose levels.


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