Does Lipitor Cause Diabetes in Women?
Written by Stephen Fields on August 14, 2013
Research studies have investigated the link between Lipitor and diabetes in women, particularly postmenopausal women. While some research has indicated that cholesterol drugs known as statins carry an elevated risk for diabetes, these studies revealed that the risk may be particularly high for women who are middle aged and older.
In September, 2014 researchers published the results of a study which was designed to determine what mechanisms were responsible for an increased risk of type 2 diabetes among Lipitor patients. The researchers analyzed data from 43 genetic studies involving a total of 223,463 individuals to assess whether the increased risk of diabetes was a consequence of inhibiting HMGCR, the intended target of Lipitor.
The researchers found that statin treatment in randomised trials was associated with bodyweight gain and resulted in a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. These results were similar to population studies where increased bodyweight gain due to genes which inhibit HMGCR was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. They concluded an increased risk of type 2 diabetes with statins is at least partially explained by HMGCR inhibition.
Lipitor and Diabetes in Women
In January, 2012 WebMD.com published an article warning that statins like Lipitor may increase the risk of diabetes in middle-aged and older women.2 The article pointed to research from the University of Massachusetts which compared women who were taking statins with women who did not.
Even after variables like age and weight were taken into account, women taking statins were “almost 50% more likely to report developing type 2 diabetes than women who did not“, the site reported.
To better understand whether the incidence of new-onset diabetes is associated with statins like Lipitor, Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study results for 153,840 postmenopausal women were analyzed. 7.04% reported taking statin medications at the beginning of the study, and most women were followed for 7 years.3
By the end of the study, 10,242 women reported developing diabetes during this time frame. Compared to the control group, this represented a nearly 50% increase in risk.
This potential risk is particularly troubling because the American Diabetes Association recommends the prescription of statin therapies to many diabetes patients. In addition, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology issued new statin guidelines in November, 2013 which recommended statins be prescribed to nearly half of the American population between the ages of 40 and 75, placing even more women at risk of developing type 2 diabetes from statins.
Statins and Diabetes Risk
The University of Massachusetts diabetes study followed previous work by researchers trying to determine the effects of statins as a class on diabetes risk. Those researchers analyzed 13 trials that studied 5 different statins, and included 91,140 participants.
The researchers found that statin therapy was associated with a 9% increased risk for incident diabetes. Further analysis showed that “risk of development of diabetes with statins was highest in trials with older participants, but neither baseline body-mass index nor change in LDL-cholesterol concentrations accounted for residual variation in risk“.4
Though this major study did not investigate Lipitor specifically, or analyze men and women separately, it was the first study to provide important evidence that statins may carry an elevated diabetes risk for postmenopausal women.
Lipitor Serious Side Effects
Although statins have been proven effective in lowering cholesterol, those who used Lipitor and developed diabetes may feel that they were not informed of the risk of Lipitor side effects in women. Despite maintaining a reasonably healthy lifestyle, these women are now forced to closely monitor their health to prevent the disease from causing severe complications.
Diabetes is a difficult, lifelong disease that requires daily monitoring and treatment—it is possible that some women would have chosen not to take Lipitor if they had known about this potential risk.
If you were diagnosed with diabetes while using Lipitor, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. Contact our attorneys at 1-888-210-9968 to learn more about filing a Lipitor claim before the statutory deadline. There is no cost for the consultation and you’re under no obligation to hire our firm.
1. HMG-coenzyme A reductase inhibition, type 2 diabetes, and bodyweight: evidence from genetic analysis and randomised trials
2. Statins May Raise Diabetes Risk in Older Women
3. Statin Use and Risk of Diabetes Mellitus in Postmenopausal Women in the Women’s Health Initiative
4. Statins and risk of incident diabetes: a collaborative meta-analysis of randomised statin trials