Cholesterol-lowering statin medications, such as the commonly used Lipitor, can increase the risk of serious health problems and offer little benefit to patients with high cholesterol and no heart disease, a leading Irish vascular surgeon warns.
Sherif Sultain of University College Hospital in Galway says the best way to treat high cholesterol for most individuals is to follow a healthy lifestyle rather than rely on medication because statins can have dangerous side effects. The medication can increase the risk of diabetes, cataracts and male impotence, and “can also significantly increase the risk of cancer and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease in the elderly, along with a myriad of infectious diseases,” Dr. Sultain says.
Statins were introduced nearly 30 years ago and have been hailed as wonder drugs for their ability to significantly lower cholesterol levels and help prevent heart attacks and strokes. However, studies over the past few years have shown that statins may not be as “wonderful” as once thought.
The drugs appear not to help prevent cardiovascular events in people who do not have heart disease or who have never had a heart attack or stroke. They also have a laundry list of major adverse effects that Dr. Sultain and colleagues say are grossly underreported.
Dr. Sultain and colleagues conducted a review of studies involving nearly 400,000 patients. They found evidence that statins increase cardiovascular risk in women, patients with diabetes, and younger patients. The drugs can also cause liver inflammation, muscle and joint pain, and insomnia.
Statins can also increase blood sugar levels. The most recent studies show that statins increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in postmenopausal women who are not considered overweight.
Source: The Independent