HealthDay News — Statins increase the risk of developing diabetes, but only in individuals already at risk of the disease, and the benefits of statins in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and death outweigh the risks, according to a study published in the Aug. 11 issue of The Lancet.

To determine the vascular benefit and diabetes hazard profile of statins, investigators analyzed results from a clinical trial involving 17,603 individuals free of vascular disease or diabetes who had been randomized to treatment with 20 mg rosuvastatin (Crestor) or placebo and followed for up to five years.

Only individuals with at least one major risk factor for diabetes had an increased risk of diabetes (28% greater). However, these individuals also had a significantly reduced risk of vascular disease and death, although the risk reduction was smaller than for those without major risk factors for diabetes. For those with diabetes risk factors, a total of 134 vascular events or deaths were avoided for every 54 new cases of diabetes diagnosed. For those without diabetes risk factors, a total of 86 vascular events or deaths were avoided with no new cases of diabetes diagnosed.

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“For our patients, we hope these data ease concern about risks associated with statin therapy when these drugs are appropriately prescribed for cardiovascular risk reduction as an adjunct to dietary discretion, increased exercise, and smoking cessation,” the study concludes.

Several authors disclosed financial relationships with drug companies, including AstraZeneca, which funded the study.