October 28, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Statins dilemma: heart & cancer benefits, but diabetes risk

statins
There are many statins available now.

Statins have been hailed as some of the best drugs ever.

Given the massive, deadly prevalence of cardiovascular disease, some have even semi-jokingly talked about putting these drugs in the water supply for public health.

The growing evidence (e.g. this story) that statins might significantly aid in prevention, delayed progression, or even post-treatment delay of recurrence o cancer seemed to add to the glowing rep of these drugs. As a prostate cancer survivor, the news on statins and prostate cancer seemed particularly notable.

But then another narrative has been developing that is not all statin peaches and cream. Statins impair glucose metabolism and very strongly increase the risk of developing diabetes. This connection seems like the real deal. The higher the dose of statins taken, the greater the risk.

The link between statins and Diabetes is not some small increased risk either, but a rather huge effect.

Dang, I knew the story was too good to be true.

It’s not clear how a statin throws a monkey wrench into some patients’ systems to trigger Diabetes either so that may make it harder to say engineer a new statin that doesn’t pose the Diabetes risk any time soon.

I guess we’ll all have to stay tuned on this one and this dualism reinforces the idea that there is no “free lunch” when it comes to medication. There will always be potential for side effects. Always. Whether we are talking about chemical drugs or biological drugs like stem cells. Frustrating, but true.

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