Older Women On Statins Have Increased Risk For Diabetes

Older women using statins to lower their cholesterol have a substantially increased risk of diabetes onset, according to researchers at the University of Queensland.

The Queensland study’s focus on older females is somewhat unique. Although statins are highly prescribed for both men and women, most research on the effects of statins involve 40 to 70 year old men. This research utilized survey data and the prescription records of 8,372 elderly women that were periodically surveyed as part of the Women’s Health Australia study.

“We found that almost 50 percent of women in their late seventies and eighties in the study took statins, and five percent were diagnosed with new-onset diabetes,” said researcher Dr. Mark Jones.

More specifically, the research team found women over 75 taking statins had a 33 percent greater chance for developing diabetes, and the risk jumped to 51 percent for women on high statin doses.

What most concerned the investigators was the “dose effect” they discovered, where the chance of developing type 2 diabetes rose as the statin dosage was increased. This is troubling since over the ten-year research period most of the women took progressively higher doses of statins.

“GPs and their elderly female patients should be aware of the risks,” says Jones. “Those elderly women taking statins should be carefully and regularly monitored for increased blood glucose to ensure early detection and management of diabetes.”

In 2010, about 13.5 percent of women 45 to 64, and 33 percent of those 65 and over, used statin drugs in the U.S. The percentage of statin use was even higher for women over 75.

Sources: Science Daily; Consumer Reports

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