Cholesterol lowering drugs called statins can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in as little as 3 years.

Postmenopausal women are most prone to developing diabetes while taking statins. This is according to data obtained from the Women’s Health Initiative study and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Postmenopausal women who took a statin for at least 3 years were 47 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. If you are concerned about your cholesterol level or your blood sugar, berberine is a highly effective natural medicine that can help to normalize both. Berberine can help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides if they are abnormally elevated. It does this by lowering an enzyme called PCSK9. This way, LDL cholesterol (which has traditionally been referred to as “bad cholesterol”) can be removed from your bloodstream. This means cholesterol is less likely to accumulate on your artery walls and narrow them.

This is worrying because most people with elevated cholesterol have insulin resistance (syndrome X/pre-diabetes). Taking a cholesterol lowering drug can hasten the development of diabetes in people who are already highly susceptible.

Statins are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs; examples include Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor and Lescol. They work by inhibiting the action of the enzyme inside the liver that’s responsible for cholesterol production. Your liver manufactures cholesterol primarily out of carbohydrate, sugar, alcohol and any excess calories you’ve consumed through your diet. If those carbohydrates can no longer be converted into cholesterol, what happens to them? They are more likely to remain in your bloodstream and give you an elevated blood sugar reading.

High cholesterol often goes hand in hand with high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and elevated blood sugar. Together, these conditions form a syndrome that’s commonly referred to as metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or syndrome X. Some patients do require cholesterol lowering drugs, but in the vast majority, a safer and healthier option exists. See our book Cholesterol the Real Truth for more information.

Culver AL et al. Statin use and risk of diabetes mellitus in postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Jan 23;172(2):144-52