Statins – Powerful Risk Factor for Diabetes
I lend my voice to the countless others in raising the alarm about the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in America. Here are the sobering facts:
• There are now more than 24 million type 2 diabetics in America
• Incredibly, about 6 million of these folks don’t know they have the disease
• More than 2,000 people are diagnosed each day
• It is directly related to about 200,000 deaths yearly
• Having the disease reduces life expectancy by an incredible 15 years
• The disease increases risk of amputation by 4,000 per cent
• It doubles the risk of heart disease and stroke
From my perspective as a Neurologist and practitioner of Functional Medicine, two other points need to be made. First, type 2 diabetes is almost completely preventable. Without a doubt, lifestyle choices, including the foods we choose and the exercise we either do or don’t get, virtually dictate whether or not we will be dealing with this disease. Second, being diabetic is a robust indicator for high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. And bear in mind that Alzheimer’s is a disease for which we have no meaningful medical treatment whatsoever. While you may be taken in by the television ads shown on the evening news for this or that “Alzheimer’s drug,” the reality is that again, there is no pharmaceutical agent that shows any meaningful significance in treating this disease, much less offering up a cure.
In light of the powerful relationship between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s, and in recognition that diabetes is preventable, its important to look at those factors that can increase a person’s risk for the former. No doubt the relationship of diabetes to diet, exercise, and therefore obesity is now pretty much common knowledge. So, putting that aside, let’s consider medications. That is, could a commonly used drug increase a person’s risk for becoming a diabetic, a disease costing American’s close to $10 billion each year?
Recently, in the highly respected medical journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, published by the American Medical Association, researchers evaluated the risk for developing diabetes in more than 160,000 subjects at 40 clinical centers around the United States over a five-year period. Their findings revealed an astounding 71% increased risk of developing diabetes in those subjects who were taking statin medications to lower their cholesterol. That is, the most commonly prescribed drug on the planet is associated with a dramatic increased risk for one of the most common diseases of our society. And keep in mind that diabetes, to most physicians, is simply a call for more pharmaceuticals. Who wins in this scenario?
What’s more, in an editorial following the study, Kirsten L. Johansen, MD, Deputy Editor of the journal, while discussing the risk of diabetes induced by these drugs called attention to the ever increasing body of research showing that risk of death in people taking statin drugs is not reduced in any way. But isn’t that why people take these drugs, to keep from dying?
The doctrines of every mainstream as well as integrative medical institution’s approach to reduce a person’s risk of developing or even treating high cholesterol first center on diet and lifestyle, not simply choosing a medication. This approach is now bolstered by the fact that peer-reviewed, scientific research now clearly links statin medication use to a dramatic increased risk for developing diabetes. We cannot afford to remain myopic in how we look at preventive medicine by simply focusing on drugs, especially when we know that certain drugs may actually contribute to the very diseases we are trying to prevent.
Remember. Above all, do no harm.