Saturday, 24 April 2010

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Linked to Diabetes

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Linked to Diabetes

In 2004 the World Health Organization reported that more than 220 million people worldwide are struggling with diabetes.

In the United States more than 24 million suffer from diabetes, while 57 million are considered pre-diabetic. More than 18% of these numbers affect the 60 and older age group.

Because the diabetic incidence rate continues to climb, the CDC has stepped forward to proclaim diabetes to be in epidemic proportions costing more than $132 billion every year.

Diabetes is a degenerative disease that develops when the pancreas can either no longer produce adequate amounts of insulin or use it effectively to regulate the levels of blood sugar being circulated throughout the body.

Diabetes type 2 is considered the most common blood sugar disorder in the more developed countries affecting 95% of the diabetic population. The western style diet has been touted to be a major culprit.

Type 2 diabetes is believed to involve insulin receptors that have become defective and resistant to the delivery of sugars by insulin. As type 2 diabetes progresses insulin secretion by the pancreas becomes impaired causing increased serum blood sugar levels.

Research Confirming Diabetes Risk While Using Statin Drugs

The American Diabetic Association has documented that cholesterol lowering drugs can “modestly” increase the risk of developing diabetes. This was based on data pooled from several studies involving more than 57,000 subjects spanning over 3 1/2 years.

Other studies confirming the link between statin drugs and the development of type 2 diabetes were recently reported in the Lancet. (The Lancet, online, Feb. 17, 2010)

A study evaluating the statin drug Crestor (rosuvastatin) showed that patients had increased their risk in developing diabetes after taking the drug for a little more than a year and a half. Even Astra Zeneca Pharmaceutical company, the makers of Crestor, admitted that elevated blood sugar levels have been reported with statin drugs, including their own Crestor

A significantly large collection of anecdotal reports by patients taking statin drugs reported increases in blood sugar levels after starting statin therapy with further escalation of blood sugars when statin doses were increased.

Statin drugs have been supported by medical authorities and pharmaceutical companies by stating that the risk of developing diabetes as a side effect is of little significance when compared to the beneficial effects of reducing the hazards of cardiovascular disease such as strokes and heart attacks.

The American Diabetes Association is advising all diabetes to start taking statin drugs whether their cholesterol levels were elevated or not.

However, a recent study completed at the University of Wurzburg, Germany looked at diabetic patients who took small doses of the statin drug Lipitor. The study spanned over four years. The results were unexpected.

Researchers found that twice as many patients died from fatal strokes that were on Lipitor versus those who were taking a placebo. This study was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005.

Low Cholesterol and Elevated Blood Sugar Levels

The adrenal cortex is responsible for making glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are hormones that are responsible for many functions, including the breakdown and usage of carbohydrates.

Cortisol is one of the more important glucocorticoids and is involved in elevating blood sugar levels, storing sugar in the liver, assisting in the carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, suppressing the immune system, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Under stressful conditions or when the blood levels of glucocorticoids are low excess cortisol is released.

Excess cortisol levels are responsible for elevated blood sugar levels, depressed immune function, changes in reproductive function, depression, anxiety, slow thyroid function, decreased bone density and excessive fat storage around the abdomen.

Because cholesterol is the precursor to glucocorticoids, when the availability of cholesterol is lowered the function of cholesterol is compromised, including the synthesis of hormones such as the glucocorticoids.

Many documented studies illustrate that changing the cholesterol balance in the body profoundly alters many functions in the body including carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in humans.

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