Nightly News   |  January 09, 2012

Link between cholesterol-lowering drugs and diabetes

Women who take statins may have a greater chance of developing diabetes. NBC’s Robert Bazell reports.

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>>> news story tonight. this is enough to shake your faith in any treatment. the story is this. as we said, you might call it the cost of good intentions because women who take lipitor or other statin drugs for cholesterol have a 50% greater chance of developing diabetes, according to this study and affects potentially millions of americans. we get our report from our chief science correspondent robert bazell .

>> reporter: tens of billions of americans take medications scald statins, zocor, lipitor are in that class. new evidence suggests these drugs often called wonder drugs may be a risk factor for type diabetes. the study followed 50,000 women over 50 with and without heart disease for ten years. those taking statin drugs had a 48% greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes . judy has her diabetes well under control, but she was not surprised when she was diagnosed 19 years ago. diabetes ran in her family and her weight was way too high.

>> i was sort of a perfect candidate.

>> reporter: today's study sulgt suggests the statins she was taking may also have put her at risk. the research does not implicate any single brand.

>> this association was true of both the low potency and higher potency statins and appeared with shorter-term use as well as with longer-term use.

>> these are so widely spribed.

>> reporter: specialists emma size since heart disease is one of the major complications of diabetes no one should stop taking their medication, but the risk is something to consider.

>> doctors have to factor that into the equation and think about it, especially in lower risk , lower weight women who are being started on it for prevention rather than for treatment.

>> reporter: judy has no plans to stop taking her statin.

>> i have to weigh the risks and talk to my doctor.

>> reporter: good advice for all patients. another reminder that every drug has both risks and benefits. robert bazell , nbc news, new york.