Statins have been marketed — and widely described in the media — as wonder drugs which help ensure heart health by lowering cholesterol. But as we reported in 2009 ("Cholesterol Contrarians Question Cult of Statins"), an outspoken group of researchers warn their use is too widespread, and their potential dangers underestimated.
A study just published in the journal The Cochrane Collaboration suggests their doubts are valid.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine reviewed previous studies on the risks and benefits of statins for people at low risk of heart disease and found many of the studies were deeply flawed.
Their report finds “there was evidence of selective reporting of outcomes, failure to report adverse events and inclusion of people with cardiovascular disease (in studies that purported to be of low-risk patients). Only limited evidence showed that primary prevention with statins may be cost effective and improve patient quality of life.”
The researchers conclude, in a note to physicians: “Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk.”
Independent researchers in the U.S. and Canada have found links between statin use and a variety of cognitive disorders ranging from depression to dementia. Our full report is here.