People who take cholesterol-lowering drugs to prevent cardiovascular diseases consume more calories and fat and generally weigh more than people who do not take statins, a new study published on the JAMA Internal Medicine site has found.
Researchers with UCLA pulled data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to compare the intake of calories and fat as well as measured body weights among statin users and non-users during a 10-year period. They found that people who used statins an increased their caloric intake by 9.6 percent in 2009-2010, compared to people who used the drugs in 1999-2000.
In 1999-2000, people who used statins consumed less fat and fewer calories than those who did not use the drugs, but by 2005-2006, the two groups were similar in their fat and calorie consumption. However, in 2009-2010, fat consumption among statin users increased 14.4 percent and their body weights increased as well, while those who did not take the drugs saw no increase in fat intake or weight.
Researchers suggested people prescribed statins may consider the drug to be a free pass, allowing them to eat a more unhealthy diet while still protecting them against heart disease. Another possibility is that physicians may be more liberal about prescribing the drugs to overweight people.
Doctors who prescribe statins, such as the widely used Lipitor, also recommend that patients follow a healthy diet. However, even statin users who follow this advice are still at risk for Lipitor side effects, which include increases in blood sugar levels. This can also lead to type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that can cause serious health complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, neuropathy and dementia.
Source: USA Today