Every year that passes reinforces to me (and many of my friends) that our bodies are systems. Tinker with one part (such as taking a drug) and you may have an effect on another bodily function. And while drugs can definitely be good, there can be some unintended consequences.
Take statins, for instance. According to MedicineNet.com, statin medications are often prescribed by doctors to lower blood cholesterol levels in the blood through reducing cholesterol production in the liver. “Cholesterol is critical to the normal function of every cell in the body,” Medicinenet.com stated. “However, it also contributes to the development of atherosclerosis, a condition in which cholesterol-containing plaques form within arteries. These plaques block the arteries and reduce the flow of blood to the tissues that arteries supply. When plaques rupture, a blood clot forms on the plaque, thereby further blocking the artery and reducing the flow of blood.”
However, a new study from the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that menopausal women who used statin medications may increase their risk of developing diabetes. The researchers in this study, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, studied 153,000 women who participated in the longitudinal Women’s Health Initiative. When the study started in 1993, the participants were an average of 63 years old and approximately 7% were taking statin drugs. By 2005, more than 10,200 of these women had developed Type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, the women who were taking any type of statin drug were 1.5 times more likely to develop diabetes.
“Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body's main source of fuel,” the Mayo Clinic website states. Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin.
The University of Massachusetts researchers stressed that additional analysis is needed to determine the connection between statins and diabetes, and whether statins affect the way a woman’s body manages insulin and glucose responses. However, they do not believe that women should stop taking statins.
Which brings us back to another important takeaway about the human body – diet and exercise can help offset Type 2 diabetes since excess weight and inactivity are believed to be contributing factors to the disease’s development.
Women who are pre-diabetic should consider embracing a diabetes diet, also known as a medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for diabetes. “Rather than a restrictive diet, a diabetes diet or MNT is a healthy-eating plan that's naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” the Mayo Clinic website reported. “In fact, a diabetes diet is the best eating plan for most everyone.” This diet includes: