Columbus, OH—Patients prescribed cholesterol-lowering statins had double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, accordingto an analysisof thousands of patients’ health records.

A press releaseon the research notes that that’s the minimum—users who took statins for more than two years had more than three times the risk of diabetes.

Being an observational study, it's not possible to determine causality, but Victoria Zigmont, graduate student in public health at Ohio State University and leader of the study, noted that “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. That said,” she added, “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.”

Zigmont took into account confounding factors including gender, age, ethnicity, education level, cholesterol and triglyceride readings, body mass index, waist circumference, and the number of visits to a doctor.

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