Do Statins Cause Diabetes?


A wealth of evidence has established that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, widely used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, do increase the risk of new-onset diabetes, possibly by impairing pancreatic beta cell function and decreasing peripheral insulin sensitivity. Groups at particular risk include the elderly, women, and Asians. The diabetogenic effect of statins appear directly related to statin dose and the degree of attained cholesterol lowering. Statins can cause hyperinsulinemia even in the absence of hyperglycemia and the potential mitogenic effects and implications of prolonged hyperinsulinemia are discussed. Suggestions are made as to how physicians might avert the hyperinsulinemic and diabetogenic effects of statin therapy in clinical practice, and modulate the detrimental effects of these drugs on exercise performance. Finally, long-term studies are needed to determine if the deleterious hyperinsulinemic and diabetogenic effects of statin therapy undermine the beneficial cardiovascular disease risk outcomes in various segments of the population.

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Mark R. Goldstein declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Luca Mascitelli declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Mark R. Goldstein.

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Goldstein, M.R., Mascitelli, L. Do Statins Cause Diabetes?. Curr Diab Rep 13, 381–390 (2013).

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  • Statins
  • Diabetes
  • Prediabetes
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Insulin resistance
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Cancer