Lipitor (offered generically as atorvastatin) comes from a popular class of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, making up a significant portion of all prescriptions filled out the United States each year. Lipitor contributes because popularity: it was the top-selling prescription drug in 2011, creating $7.7 billion dollars in U.S. sales for producer Pfizer that year. It remains among the most extensively prescribed drugs on the market.
Like all statins, Lipitor assists prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering the level of cholesterol in the blood. Recently, medical researchers discovered brand-new dangers associated with the drug, consisting of an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.
In 2012, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) upgraded the safety labels for all statins and warned consumers that the drugs might be linked to diabetes. Other research studies recommend the risk might be even higher for older women. The FDA’s label revisions likewise showed that Lipitor and other statins can cause damage to the livers, muscles and cognitive function of some patients, though reports of these injuries are unusual.
How Does Lipitor Cause Diabetes?
Although medical research on Lipitor and other statins suggests these drugs can increase a patient’s risk for establishing diabetes, they shed little light on how the increased risk takes place. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body fails to properly use or produce insulin, a vital hormone the body uses to convert food into energy.
Bodies break down the food we eat into sugar, or glucose, which travels throughout the blood stream. However if insulin isn’t working the way it should, glucose cannot get in the body’s cells to supply them with the energy they require. This causes a spike in blood sugar levels — a problem that can result in serious health complications.
Scientists suspect that taking statins, including Lipitor, hinders the function of special cells in the pancreas that shop and release insulin. There is likewise proof that statins, like Atorvastatin, can decrease the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Individuals who experience Type 2 diabetes are at risk for disabling and in some cases life-threatening complications. Diabetes can cause problems with many essential organs, like the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels.
Complications frequently occur in people who do not understand they have Type 2 diabetes, since the symptoms can be easy to overlook. Complications frequently establish gradually in time.
Type 2 diabetes complications include:
- Heart disease
- Nerve damage (neuropathy)
- Kidney damage (nephropathy)
- Eye damage
- Foot damage
- Hearing impairment
- Bacterial and fungal infections
- Alzheimer’s disease
People who suffer symptoms of Type 2 diabetes — like increased thirst, urination and hunger, weight loss, blurred vision and fatigue — must ask their doctor about evaluating to prevent the dangers of long-term complications.
Women and Lipitor Diabetes Risk
One 2012 research study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that post-menopausal women who took Lipitor or other statins faced a 48 percent increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not.
The research study, that included 153,840 non-diabetic women in between the ages of 50 and 79, considered several other aspects also understood to increase the risk for diabetes, consisting of advanced age, obesity and absence of exercise.
Scientists found that the risk for diabetes from statins varied amongst ethnic backgrounds. Asian women carried the highest risk followed by white women and Latinas. African American women experienced the lowest risk. The body mass index (BMI) of the patients also impacted diabetes risk. Women with a healthy BMI dealt with a higher risk than obsess women, who have a BMI greater than 30.
Due to the fact that women are less likely to suffer a heart attack than men, their statin use is lower historically. That trend altered over the last few years. Inning accordance with the Centers for Disease Control, 36 percent of women between the ages of 64 and 74 and 39 percent of those 75 and older take statins to prevent their first cardiac arrest or a repeat cardiac occasion. For those age varies, almost 50 percent of men are taking statins.
Scientific Studies on Statins and Diabetes Risk
Controversy about a possible link between statin use and diabetes risk interested researchers for more than a years. Scottish scientists released the first research study examining the connection, the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS), in 1995.
Also read: Best Statins For Diabetics
Although WOSCOPS returned appealing results in regards to diabetes risk, the research study just evaluated one statin, Pravachol (pravastatin), which a 2001 research study later discovered to minimize diabetes risk by as much as 30 percent. This favorable effect, nevertheless, turned out to be distinct to Pravachol. Scientists have actually discovered no evidence of a minimized diabetes risk with Lipitor or other statin.
In a 2009 meta-analysis published by the American Diabetes Association, scientists examined WOSCOPS and 5 additional medical trials that examine diabetes risk from statin use. Excluding the results from WOSCOPS, statin use was connected with an 11.5 percent increased risk for diabetes. The additional research studies consisted of information on patients taking Lipitor, Crestor (rosuvastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin).
More recently, in a study published May 2013, Canadian researchers examined the diabetes risk of 6 statins: Pravachol, Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, Lescol (fluvastatin) and Mevacor (lovastatin). Compared with Pravachol, which was used as a control for its favorable impacts on diabetes, the other statins were found to increase diabetes risk by 10 to 22 percent. The greatest risk for diabetes was associated with Lipitor (22 percent) and Crestor (18 percent). Both drugs are routinely recommended in greater strengths than other statins. There is some evidence that the diabetes risk increases with dose.