A new medical study found a serious possible side effect from cholesterol drugs known as statins. The drug could cause diabetes in some patients.
It's estimated that millions of Americans take cholesterol-lowering drugs to reduce the risk of heart disease. But now a new study says the drugs could increase the risk for another deadly disease: Type 2 Diabetes.
The study is based on the Women's Health Initiative, which started 15 years ago as a way to track the health of post-menopausal women.
Out of the 153,000 enrolled participants, 10,700 were taking statins. By 2005, nearly 10 percent of statin-users developed diabetes, compared to the six percent of non-users.
"Ten percent is more than six percent, but what we don't know is whether those ten percent had signs already that they were going to develop diabetes," says Dr. Lisa Martin, who is involved in the Woman's Health Initiative.
Martin's 82-year-old mother is a participant. Martin says her mother is among the other 90 percent in the initiative who have not developed diabetes while being on statins.
The study is only observational, meaning the link between the drugs and diabetes can't be proven.
A big reason is because post-menopausal women are already prone to diabetes due to other risk factors, such as age and weight gain, according to Dr. Patricia Davidson.
Robin Kelly's mother developed diabetes after taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. She says the study concerns her, but isn't enough to be a deterrent.
Even though doctors say more research needs to be done on the link between the disease and drug, doctors say the study is a reminder that statins are not a replacement for healthy eating and exercise.