Lipitor Linked to Type 2 Diabetes In Older Women

Lipitor is a statin drug that is commonly prescribed to help lower cholesterol in middle-aged and elderly people. This drug is so pervasive that it almost seems routine for doctors to prescribe it to patients over 50 years old with elevated cholesterol levels, though some doctors do try to get their patients to control their condition through diet and exercise first.

However, an extensive study has shown that older women who take Lipitor and other statins are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

  • The study had over 150,000 subjects with an average age at enrollment of 63.
  • The women were followed for an average of 7 years.
  • None of these women reported having diabetes when they first enrolled in the study.
  • Women who took statins were 50% more likely to report a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
  • The higher risk was reported even though the study accounted for other diabetes risk factors, such as being overweight or having a sedentary lifestyle.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has specific recommendations for diabetics with high cholesterol. They emphasize most of the same basic healthy lifestyle tips that everybody should consider. In fact, these are the same recommendations that people with high cholesterol would probably get from their doctor: Stop smoking, control your weight, enjoy more physical activity, and eat a healthy diet.

Experts Weigh-In On Lipitor-Diabetes Link

The ADA, however, also says that doctors might prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication if lifestyle changes do not work. Some very fit people are just genetically prone to suffering from both diabetes and high cholesterol when they get older.

One researcher, Annie L. Culver, did not think that the American Diabetes Association’s health tips should change. Instead, more emphasis  should be placed on lifestyle factors rather than prescription medication. This is particularly true for people with other high cholesterol or diabetes risk factors like a family history or an unhealthy lifestyle.

One cardiologist, Christopher P. Cannon, MD, says that the benefits of statin drugs far outweigh the risks. The drug manufacturer, Phizer Inc., also says that the drug has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, even in diabetics.