Statins or sunshine?


Quite a surprising finding in statin studies is that statins seem to reduce the risk of diabetes.

In 2001, a Scottish study found that "It is noteworthy that the participants treated with pravastatin . . . had a reduced incidence of diabetes compared with controls."[1]

Other studies showed that:

  • Numbers of cases of both type-2 and type-1 diabetes are higher where sunshine and vitamin D levels are lower;[2]
  • that blood sugar levels are significantly higher in winter than in summer when, again, there is less and weaker sunshine;[3]
  • and that these seasonal patterns followed trends similar to those of many other similar diseases connected to cholesterol levels such as heart disease and cancer.[4]

Still more studies noted that diabetes in children and coronary heart disease trends, with relation to the latitude, are similar. In other words, the more UVB sunlight you can get and the more vitamin D, the less likely you are to get diabetes.[5,6]

The point is that diabetes — at any age — has nothing to do with cholesterol levels. So why should taking a statin make a difference? The answer is, again, that the benefits of statins have nothing to to with lowering cholesterol. Statins are merely analogues of vitamin D, and you can get the same benefits from going out in the sun as you get from taking statins — but without the adverse side effects of the statins.


1. Freeman DJ, Norrie J, Sattar N, et al. Pravastatin and the development of diabetes mellitus; evidence for a protective treatment effect in the west of Scotland coronary prevention study. Circulation 2001; 103: 357-62.
2. Lora-Gomez RE, et al. Incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children in Caceres, Spain, during 1988-1999. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2005; 69: 169-74.
3. Suarez L, Barrett-Connor E. Seasonal variation in fasting plasma glucose levels in man. Diabetologia 1982; 22: 250-3. 4. Tseng CL, Brimacombe M, Xie M, et al Seasonal patterns in monthly hemoglobin A1c values. Am J Epidemiol 2005; 161: 565-74.
5. Stene LC, Ulriksen J, Magnus P, Joner G. Use of cod liver oil during pregnancy associated with lower risk of type 1 diabetes in the off spring. Diabetologia 2000; 43: 1093-98.
6. Hypponen E, Laara E, Reunanen A, Jarvelin M-R, Virtanen SM. Intake of vitamin D and risk of type 1 diabetes: a birth-cohort study. Lancet 2001; 358: 1500-03.

Back to Statins, Part 5
Go to Sunshine and: Cancer, diabetes, transplants, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease

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Last updated: December 9, 2011