Statins are one of the most widely prescribed medications but there is ongoing concern they are associated with new‐onset‐diabetes (NOD) development. Researchers from The Ohio State University sought to understand the risk of impaired blood glucose control and new-onset diabetes (NOD) in patients taking statins.

The study included 4,683 men and women who did not have diabetes, were candidates for statins based on heart disease risk and had not yet taken the drugs at the start of the study. Approximately 16% of the group, 755 patients, were eventually prescribed statins during the research, which ran from 2011 until 2014.

It was found that those taking statins had a higher prevalence of heightened blood glucose levels. Statin users also had an elevated risk of developing NOD, especially those who had been taking the medication for over two years. Interestingly, no significant differences were found among varying types or doses of statins.

“The fact that increased duration of statin use was associated with an increased risk of diabetes – something we call a dose-dependent relationship – makes us think that this is likely a causal relationship,” said Victoria Zigmont, who led the study as a graduate student in public health at The Ohio State University. “That said, statins are very effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes. I would never recommend that people stop taking the statin they've been prescribed based on this study, but it should open up further discussions about diabetes prevention and patient and provider awareness of the issue.”