Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way a person’s body processes sugar, the most important source of energy. Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes. About 90 percent of people who have diabetes have type 2. The other 10 percent have type 1 diabetes, which is a result of a damaged pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in childhood, although type 2 diabetes is increasingly affecting children due to poor diets.
Left untreated, type 2 diabetics’ blood sugar will remain high. The disease can develop slowly over several years without any noticeable symptoms. Blood sugar levels that remain too high can cause an increase in thirst, an increase in urination, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. Extremely high blood sugar levels can cause confusion or the loss of consciousness (diabetic coma).
Insulin and Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops the production of insulin. The exact cause of this is unknown, but genetics and environmental factors contribute to the development of diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that is secreted from the pancreas into the bloodstream. The insulin then enters the cells and lowers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Once blood sugar drops, the pancreas slows or stops secreting insulin.
Glucose, a type of sugar, is a main source of energy for cells that make up muscles and other tissues. Glucose comes from food and your liver. After you eat, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream where it enters the cells with help from insulin. The liver stores and makes glucose. When glucose is low, the liver secretes glucose to keep levels normal.
When type 2 diabetes is present, the above process does not work as well. Instead of moving into the cells, sugar is built up in the bloodstream. When blood sugar levels increase, the pancreas secretes more insulin. However, the pancreas becomes impaired and can’t make enough insulin to support the body’s needs.
Risk Factors of Diabetes
Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes including:
- Family History – If your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes, you are twice as likely to develop the disease.
- Weight – Being overweight is one of the most common risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes. However, you do not have to be overweight to develop the disease.
- Fat Distribution – Those who carry fat in the abdomen area of the body are at a higher risk of developing diabetes than those whose fat is stored in the hips and thighs.
- Inactivity – Physical activity helps to reduce weight. Those who are more active use up their glucose and make cells more receptive to insulin.
- Race – People of certain races (i.e. blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and Native Americans) develop type 2 diabetes more so than whites.
- Age – Although type 2 diabetes tends to afflict those over the age of 45, younger people are increasingly being diagnosed as lack of physical activity and diets high in processed food become the norm.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – Women who experience irregular menstrual cycles may be prone to developing type 2 diabetes more so than women who have regular cycles.
- Statin Medications – People who take statin medications, such as Lipitor, to prevent heart disease may have an increased risk of raised blood sugar levels and the development of type 2 diabetes.
Lipitor and Diabetes
Lipitor, generically called atorvastatin, is a drug used to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL). Lipitor belongs to a class of drugs called “statins,” which work by reducing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver. By reducing bad cholesterol, Lipitor can prevent blockages of blood flow, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Pfizer, Inc. developed the drug, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for use in 1996. From 1996 – 2012, Lipitor became the world’s best-selling drug of all time, with more than $125 billion in sales.
While Lipitor has been proven to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, it’s also been found to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. After nearly twenty years on the drug market, studies on statin medications have indicated evidence of increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Among 470,000 patients treated with Lipitor and other statins, nearly 22 percent were at an increased risk of developing the disease. Subsequent studies found that the elderly, women, and Asians are at an even greater risk.
In 2012, the FDA announced that all statin drugs would be updated to include warnings about their potentially harmful effects on blood glucose levels.
Pfizer updated the label on Lipitor, but for many it was too little, too late. Thousands of users have filed Lipitor lawsuits against Pfizer claiming the drug company failed to warn of the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Nearly 2,200 lawsuits have been consolidated in South Carolina federal court. The first trial is expected to begin in November 2015.
Anyone who has developed type-2 diabetes, or lost a loved one as a result of taking Lipitor, is urged to speak with an attorney about his or her legal rights. You may qualify to file a Lipitor lawsuit. If Lipitor is responsible for your harms and losses, you are entitled to be reimbursed for all the damages caused by the harmful drug. These damages include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, the cost of future medical treatment, and many others.
If you have suffered a Lipitor drug injury, or have developed type-2 diabetes after using Lipitor, speak to a Lipitor lawyer today by calling 314-409-7060, or toll-free at 855-55-BAD-DRUG. Our bad drug attorneys have helped recover millions of dollars for injury victims across the United States. All of our consultations are completely free of charge, and we will travel to you if requested.