Statins: beneficial or adverse for glucose metabolism

J Atheroscler Thromb. 2006 Jun;13(3):123-9. doi: 10.5551/jat.13.123.


Large-scale clinical trials have established that statin use for lowering blood cholesterol is beneficial in reducing atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases in different populations. However, the general reputation of statins seems to be clouded by a potential adverse effect of a class of statins on glucose metabolism. This paper reviewed clinical data of statins regarding the effects on diabetes mellitus and glucose metabolism. At least five randomized controlled studies, primarily investigating the protective effect of statins on the risk of cardiovascular diseases, have addressed the effect of statins on glucose metabolism in Western countries. One study showed that pravastatin (40 mg/day) was protective against the development of diabetes mellitus. Two studies of atorvastatin (10 mg/day) and one study of simvastatin (40 mg/day) showed no measurable effect of these regimens on the risk of diabetes mellitus or the clinical course of diabetes mellitus. One study of atorvastatin (80 mg/day) versus pravastatin (40 mg/day) suggested a deterioration of glucose metabolism associated with a high dose of atorvastatin. In Japan, a few case reports have noted a potential adverse effect of atorvastatin on glycemic control in patients with diabetes mellitus; however, seven clinical trials have showed no such effect of atorvastatin although these studies were relatively small in size and short in follow-up. Only one of the two observational studies suggested a possible adverse effect of atorvastatin on glycemic control. Evidence is extremely limited regarding atorvastatin use and deterioration in glycemic control, and further studies are needed to draw a conclusion on this issue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atorvastatin
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Heptanoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Pravastatin / pharmacology
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Heptanoic Acids
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Pyrroles
  • Atorvastatin
  • Pravastatin