New Australian research led by Curtin University has found that
people who have used statins for as little as three months have an
increased risk of skin and soft tissue infections and diabetes.
The research, published in the British Journal of Clinical
Pharmacology, examined prescription claims from 2001 to 2011 from
the Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs to determine whether
there was a link between statins, skin infections, and new-onset
Lead author Humphrey Ko, from Curtin's School of Pharmacy and
Biomedical Sciences and the Curtin Health Innovation Research
Institute (CHIRI), said although statins are commonly prescribed by
health professionals around the world to treat cardiovascular
diseases, there is increasing interest that these medications may
also benefit other medical conditions.
"Staphylococcus aureus, also known as S. aureus, is a major
cause of bacterial skin infections and statins have been reported
to exert antibacterial effects against S. aureus, as well as reduce
the risk of S. aureus-related blood infections. As such, it seemed
plausible that statins may prove beneficial in S. aureus-related
skin infections. However, statins may also induce new-onset
diabetes mellitus, a condition which in turn is a risk factor for
skin infections," Mr Ko said.
"In light of the conflicting research on this topic, our study
evaluated prescriptions for statins, antidiabetic medication, and
antistaphylococcal antibiotics, investigating their
interrelationships at three, six, and 12 months of use.
"We discovered that the use of statins
for as little as three months was associated with an increased risk
of diabetes and skin and soft tissue infections.
We also found that the increased risk of skin infections
appeared unbiased by diabetes or socioeconomic status."
Mr Ko explained that the findings have important implications
for health care professionals around the world who regularly
prescribe statin medication for patients with cardiovascular
"The widespread use of statins will likely continue with
guidelines across the world recommending statin use for prevention
of cardiovascular diseases. Hence, there is a need for clinicians
to be mindful that statin use may also be associated with diabetes,
as well as a possible increased risk of skin infections. Statin
users who are predisposed to diabetes would likely benefit from
blood glucose monitoring," Mr Ko said.
"Further research is needed to verify the link between statins
and diabetes, statins and skin infections, as well as the influence
of statins' effect on human gut bacteria, vitamin D levels, and
cholesterol inhibition on skin function."