A: It is not surprising that your physicians were unaware of the link between statins like rosuvastatin (Crestor) and cataracts. This eye condition is not listed as a side effect in the official prescribing information for Crestor.
Early animal research suggested that dogs and rodents given statins developed cataracts. One scientist noted that the lens of the eye requires cholesterol for normal function and warned about the possibility of cataracts in humans (JAMA, March 27, 1987).
This concern wasn’t confirmed in human studies until 2010. Researchers in the UK analyzed data from general practices treating 2 million people (BMJ, online, May 20, 2010). This study revealed a surprisingly strong connection between statin use and cataract formation. Canadian researchers reported a 50 percent increased risk of posterior subcapsular cataracts among statin users (Optometry and Vision Science, August 2012).
There still is controversy about this association, however (Journal of the American Heart Association, March 20, 2017).
Many physicians believe that the cardiovascular benefits derived from statins outweigh the potential risk of cataracts.
Q: I took hydrochlorothiazide for 14 years to control blood pressure. When I started, my blood sugar was completely normal. Within a few years, it began to climb.
After my doctor doubled my HCTZ dose, my fasting blood sugar soared. No one ever warned me that diuretics could cause diabetes. Would changing my BP drug help me with my diabetes?
A: Many medications, including diuretics like HCTZ, can raise blood sugar. Ask your doctor about other options for controlling hypertension that will not elevate glucose levels.
To help you with that conversation, we are sending you our Guides to Blood Pressure Treatment and Managing Diabetes. The latter lists many drugs that can boost blood sugar. Anyone who would like both guides, please send $6 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. DMB-17, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. Each also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”