Do Statins have side effects?

Published 29 March 2010.

At last, new health warnings are to be issued about statins. Can you believe that more than 6m adults in the UK (that’s over 12% of our adult population) are on these very lucrative drugs? (Lipitor alone has brought in $12.9 billion for Pfizer – and still counting!)

Twenty years ago, GP’s would only get interested in a cholesterol level above 7.0 mmol/l. Ten years ago this became 6.5. Today, any number above 5.0 mmol/l makes you a prime candidate for statins, despite the fact that the largest and longest study in the world (the Honolulu study – The Lancet 2001) showed that more people with low cholesterol levels die (suffer mortality is the technical term) than those with higher cholesterol levels. This study is by no means alone in suggesting that low cholesterol levels are not good for your chance of dying.

The 5 side effects that statin victims are going to be told more about in future are 1) sleep disturbances, 2) memory loss, 3) sexual dysfunction 4) depression and 5) a rare lung disease that can kill if left untreated. These all seem pretty important side effects to tell people about! The ones that they are already warned about include muscle wasting, fatigue and extreme tiredness – not surprising when you think of the vital role that cholesterol plays in every cell of our bodies.

 

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