For decades, statins have been widely used to lower cholesterol levels in heart risk patients. But new findings suggest that the drug may offer benefits beyond its typical use.

According to the findings of a new study, people who take statins are less likely to develop or die of cancer.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at 135 previously conducted trials, including 250,000 people taking statin drugs such as Atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin and pravastatin. Participants were both with and without cardiovascular disease.

To quantify the relative harms of individual statins, the researchers conducted random-effects pairwise and network meta-analyses. The analysis included 55 two-armed placebo-controlled and 80 two- or multiarmed active-comparator trials.

Besides the typical task of lowering cholesterol, the statins helped lower inflammation in the body, particularly in the blood vessels. Inflammation in the body and blood vessels is linked to a number of other diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, various types of cancers and stroke.

However, higher milligram dosage of the drug was linked to increased incidence of muscle pain or damage, nausea, headaches and/or elevated liver enzymes, researchers found.

Also, people taking stains were 9 percent more likely to develop diabetes mellitus.
Overall, the researchers found that the side effects of taking statins were far less than the benefits these medicines provided.

The findings of the study are reported in the current issue of the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Reduced breast cancer odds
According to the findings of a separate study, women who take statins are less likely to develop breast cancer.

The study, conducted by the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, looked at data of 7,528 women aged 65 and above.

Findings showed a breast cancer rate of 3.3 percent as against 2.2 percent among women who used statins to lower cholesterol.

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