A new study has shown high doses of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are associated with a small increased risk of diabetes, but that the risks are still outweighed by the benefits.

Researchers from St George's University in London and the University of Glasgow looked at five statin trials published between 2004 and 2010. They found those taking high doses of the drug were 12 per cent more likely to develop diabetes.

But they also stressed the beneficial effects of statins on reducing the risk of serious heart problems.

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

"Nobody should stop taking their prescribed statins because of the evidence shown in this research. Statins play a vital role in protecting the hearts of many, many people and the benefits still far outweigh any risks associated with diabetes.

"The increased risk occurred predominantly in those taking a high dose of these drugs, whereas most people are on low or moderate doses.

"Always speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about your medication - don't simply stop taking it."

This study was partly carried out at our Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre. We part-funded the centre, based at the University of Glasgow, which opened in 2005.

The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


Statement issued in response to 'Risk of incident diabetes on intensive compared to moderate-dose statin therapy: a collaborative meta-analysis of five randomized trials', David Preiss et al, Journal of the American Medical Association, June 2011.

British Heart Foundation