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December 29, 2004

Diagnosis and Symptoms, Type 2

Question from Short Hills, New Jersey, USA:

I do not have immediate family history for diabetes, but there is a history of high cholesterol, a problem I have had for a number of years. About 30 months ago, my physician started me on Zocor and Niaspan. At that time, my fasting glucose level was 82 mg/dl [4.6 mmol/L] but three months later, it was 116 mg/dl [6.4 mmol/L]. Somehow, we did not pay attention to this since my cholesterol levels were very good. For over one year after that, I did not get any blood test done (my mistake), and then we found very high blood glucose levels. Can Niaspan actually cause type 2 diabetes? I know that it can increase blood glucose levels, but it is not clear to me if it will cause diabetes. It seems that all statements I find on this topic only seem to suggest that if you have diabetes, then one should carefully watch glucose levels when taking Niaspan. But, I am wondering if taking 1000 mg Niaspan per day can make one diabetic.


The short answer to your question is yes. Niaspan is a form of long-acting niacin. Niacin is known to induce insulin resistance and is capable of inducing blood sugar elevations in susceptible individuals. I would suggest you either stop the Niacin or address the worsening glucose intolerance. I would hope you would discuss this with your physician. Several options are available to you.