In a study of nearly 26,000 beneficiaries of Tricare, the military health system, those taking statin drugs to control their cholesterol were 87 percent more likely to develop diabetes. The research confirms past findings on the link between the widely prescribed drugs and diabetes risk. But it is among the first to show the connection in a relatively healthy group of people. The study included only people who at baseline were free of heart disease, diabetes, and other severe chronic disease.

Ishak Mansi, Christopher R. Frei, Chen-Pin Wang, Eric M. Mortensen. Statins and New-Onset Diabetes Mellitus and Diabetic Complications: A Retrospective Cohort Study of US Healthy Adults. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s11606-015-3335-1

I find this interesting partly because I am a diagnosed diabetic.


“In our study, statin use was associated with a significantly higher risk of new-onset diabetes, even in a very healthy population,” says lead author Dr. Ishak Mansi. “The risk of diabetes with statins has been known, but up until now it was thought that this might be due to the fact that people who were prescribed statins had greater medical risks to begin with.”
Mansi is a physician-researcher with the VA North Texas Health System and the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas.
In the study, statin use was also associated with a “very high risk of diabetes complications,” says Mansi. “This was never shown before.” Among 3,351 pairs of similar patients–part of the overall study group–those patients on statins were 250 percent more likely than their non-statin-using counterparts to develop diabetes with complications.
Statin users were also 14 percent more likely to become overweight or obese after being on the drugs.
Mansi points out that other studies have arrived at a similar finding through different research methods.
The study also found that the higher the dose of any of the statins, the greater the risk of diabetes, diabetes complications, and obesity.
A key strength of Mansi’s study was the use of a research method known as propensity score matching. Out of the total study population, the researchers chose 3,351 statin users and paired them with non-users who were very similar, at baseline, based on array of 42 health and demographic factors. The only substantial difference, from a research standpoint, was the use of statins. This helped the researchers isolate the effects of the drugs.

“No patient should stop taking their statins based on our study, since statin therapy is a cornerstone in treatment of cardiovascular diseases and has been clearly shown to lower mortality and disease progression,” he says. “Rather, this study should alert researchers, [clinical] guideline writers, and policymakers that short-term clinical trials might not fully describe the risks and benefits of long-term statin use for primary prevention.”

Overall, besides driving further research, Mansi says he hopes the results will help inform conversations between patients and providers about the risks and benefits of statins.
“I myself am a firm believer that these medications are very valuable for patients when there are clear and strict indications for them,” he says. “But knowing the risks may motivate a patient to quit smoking, rather than swallow a tablet, or to lose weight and exercise. Ideally, it is better to make those lifestyle changes and avoid taking statins if possible.”


  1. Exaclty – but its ironic that Mansi keeps throwing in there "don't stop taking…" he will get smashed by the medical community if he doesn't throw that in. I'm no expert – but cholesterol has been made out to be the boogie man when it is critical for human life and should not be fought with powerful drugs.

    Stop the statin, have some bacon, and get to the nearest Crossfit gym….

  2. I'm not a medical professional, but I do eat bacon whenever possible. I think this keeps me fit.

  3. LSP — Blue Moocher also eats bacon and he doesn't seem to have suffered from it. I'm sure that he hates postmen because they aren't eating bacon (closet Muslims?).

  4. Very little infuriates me like our blind faith in western medicine and doctors' enormous dependence on pharmaceuticals. SO VERY OFTEN what can be healed by diet alterations is treated with drugs, which need other drugs to address side-effects from the initial drugs, and then further medication for additional fall out, plus supplements and blah blah blah. Result: INSANE amount of money wasted and huge amounts of the population dependent upon these racketeering, nasty, evil pharmaceutical companies.
    And OFTEN, people don't get BETTER– they aren't necessarily healthier at all– as your post addresses.

    This is primarily an issue of food. And I'm not talking about "people eat too much junk food" or whatever, though that's true (I'm guilty of it, too). It's that the vast majority of food on the shelves in our stores is full of "ingredients" you can't even pronounce and our bodies don't like it. We're not even safe sticking to foods with simple ingredients, as genetic modifications have altered the structures of basic foods making them foreign to our bodies. Why are so many people gluten intolerant now? Because since the 1950's the protein in wheat itself has been modified to an extent that our bodies can't break it down. (Everything in the stores is made from flour that comes from this modern wheat, by the way. It's not a matter of choosing between "whole grain" or white bread. It's the protein [the "gluten"] in the modern wheat itself that is toxic to us. To avoid it, you have to source ancient grains and mill it yourself, essentially. Good luck with that. –And if you try to supplement wheat products with "gluten-free" varieties, your metabolism is going to take a huge hit because of all the carbs in those. See? It's a nightmare.)

    But the short of it is that systemic inflammation causes an endless list of physical breakdown. Then we try to pop a pill to fix a problem while still ingesting the poison at every meal.

    (Again, I'm no hippie– I'm not against medicine. At times it is necessary. But our nation's mindset towards health is incredibly, incredibly sick. The food and pharmaceutical industries are making out like bandits and the expense of our health, quite ironically.)

  5. Agreed. There is a certain appeal to moving to the country, buying land and raising my own food. But it's all but impossible to stay off the grid and do that. In the modern world, it comes down to compromise.

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