Carmel, CA Statins Cause More Good Than Harm?by Richard Kuehn on 08/13/12
There has been quite a bit of controversy regarding the widespread use of statins to treat high cholesterol due to the side effects that drugs like Lipitor can cause. However, a new study shows that the benefits likely outweigh the risks. Patients who were at high risk of contracting diabetes, for instance, were 39% less likely to develop a cardiovascular illness if they were on statins and 17% less likely to die, according to a recent study published by Brigham Young University. It's clear that statins lower the risk of heart attacks and having a stroke, however, they also increase the risk of diabetes (9.9% compared to 6.4% for those not on statins). "We're concerned that many diabetics have stopped taking statins because of those warnings," lead author of the study, Paul Ridker told USA Today. "When we focus only on the risk of diabetes we may be doing a disservice to our patients," he said in the study which was published in The Lancet. The study followed 17,000 patients in 2008 so it was quite large, although there are still skeptics. About 25% of Americans over 45 take a statin, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Many experts believe that's too many. "Per 100 people, you have two heart attacks less and one increase in diabetes," Eric Topl, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute told USA Today. "They're trying to say it benefits more than harms, but the benefit is so small." He has a good point. Many heart attacks are minor and the results of the study didn't delve into the degree of heart disease of the patients studied. Diabetes can result in the amputation of limbs so it's nothing to mess around with. Explore these issues in depth with your physician before going on a statin.