Some statins, drugs taken to protect the heart, may increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes, according to researchers in Canada.
Their study of 1.5 million people, in the British Medical Journal, suggested powerful statins could increase the risk by 22% compared with weaker drugs.
Atorvastatin was linked to one extra case of diabetes for every 160 patients treated.
Experts said the benefits of statins still outweighed any risks.
Powerful statins increase type 2 diabetes risk by 22 percent
Statins are a group of commonly prescribed drugs that lower the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. This reduces the chances of a heart attack or stroke.
A team of researchers from hospitals in Toronto said there had been controversy around the risk of diabetes with different statins.
They looked at medical records of 1.5 million people over the age of 66 and compared the incidence of diabetes between people taking different statins.
Their report said: “We found that patients treated with atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, or simvastatin were at increased risk of new onset diabetes compared with those treated with pravastatin.
“Clinicians should consider this risk when they are contemplating statin treatment for individual patients.
“Preferential use of pravastatin… might be warranted.”
Commenting on the study, Prof. Risto Huupponen and Prof. Jorma Viikari, from the University of Turku, in Finland, said: “The overall benefit of statins still clearly outweighs the potential risk of diabetes.”
However, they said, the different statins should be targeted at the right patients.
They said: “The most potent statins, at least in higher doses, should preferably be reserved for patients who do not respond to low-potency treatment, but have a high total risk of cardiovascular disease.”
A vegetarian diet can have a dramatic effect on the health of your heart, a new research suggests.
A study of 44,500 people in England and Scotland showed vegetarians were 32% less likely to die or need hospital treatment as a result of heart disease.
Differences in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body weight are thought to be behind the health boost.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Heart disease is a major blight in Western countries. It kills 94,000 people in the UK each year – more than any other disease, and 2.6 million people live with the condition.
The heart’s own blood supply becomes blocked up by fatty deposits in the arteries that nourish the heart muscle. It can cause angina or even lead to a heart attack if the blood vessels become completely blocked.
A vegetarian diet can have a dramatic effect on the health of your heart
Scientists at the University of Oxford analyzed data from 15,100 vegetarians and 29,400 people who ate meat and fish.
Over the course of 11 years, 169 people in the study died from heart disease and 1,066 needed hospital treatment – and they were more likely to have been meat and fish eaters than vegetarians.
Dr. Francesca Crowe said: “The main message is that diet is an important determinant of heart health, I’m not advocating that everyone eats a vegetarian diet.
“The diets are quite different. Vegetarians probably have a lower intake of saturated fat so it makes senses there is a lower risk of heart disease.”
The results showed the vegetarians had lower blood pressure, lower levels of “bad” cholesterol and were more likely to have a healthy weight.
A new study suggests that eating apples each day could significantly improve the heart health of middle-aged adults in just one month.
Those who ate a daily apple over four weeks lowered “bad” cholesterol in the blood by 40% – a substance linked to hardening of the arteries.
Taking capsules containing polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in apples, had a similar, but not as large, effect.
“Bad” cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can interact with free radicals to become oxidized, which can trigger inflammation and can cause tissue damage.
Research leader, Professor Robert DiSilvestro, from Ohio State University, said: “When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
“We got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks.”
The difference was similar to that found between people with normal coronary arteries versus those with coronary artery disease, he said.
The study, funded by an apple industry group, is published online in the Journal of Functional Foods and will appear in a future print edition.
Prof. Robert DiSilvestro described daily apple consumption as significantly more effective at lowering oxidized LDL than other antioxidants he has studied, including the spice-based compound curcumin, green tea and tomato extract.
“Not all antioxidants are created equal when it comes to this particular effect,” he said.
Robert DiSilvestro first became interested in studying the health effects of eating an apple a day after reading a Turkish study that found such a regimen increased the amount of a specific antioxidant enzyme in the body.
In the end, his team didn’t find the same effect on the enzyme, but was surprised at the considerable influence the apples had on oxidized LDL.
For the study, the researchers recruited non-smoking healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60 who had a history of eating apples less than twice a month and who didn’t take supplements containing polyphenols or other plant-based concentrates.
In all, 16 participants ate a large Red or Golden Delicious apple for four weeks; 17 took capsules containing 194 milligrams of polyphenols a day for four weeks; and 18 took a placebo containing no polyphenols. The researchers found no effect on oxidized LDLs in those taking the placebo.
“We think the polyphenols account for a lot of the effect from apples, but we did try to isolate just the polyphenols, using about what you’d get from an apple a day,” Prof. Robert DiSilvestro said.
“We found the polyphenol extract did register a measurable effect, but not as strong as the straight apple. That could either be because there are other things in the apple that could contribute to the effect, or, in some cases, these bioactive compounds seem to get absorbed better when they’re consumed in foods.”
Still, Prof. Robert DiSilvestro said polyphenol extracts could be useful in some situations, “perhaps in higher doses than we used in the study, or for people who just never eat apples”.
The study also found eating apples had some effects on antioxidants in saliva, which has implications for dental health, Prof. Robert DiSilvestro said. He hopes to follow up on that finding in a future study.