The risk of using statins has been largely exaggerated, according to a multi-national study.1
The research, produced by universities from the UK, US and Australia, explored a variety of evidence to weigh up the benefits and risks of the drugs used to lower cholesterol.
The study suggested that the positives of the drugs, including reducing the risk cardiovascular events such as stroke or heart attack, far outweigh any possible side effects. Reported side effects of the drug, which has had something of a checkered history, include harming the liver and rare cases of causing muscle weakness or damage.
To demonstrate the point, the study noted that in a group of 10,000 people using statins, only five would experience muscle weakness.
This large study demonstrates that misleading claims about some drugs by the media can have serious implications to the health of the public. Negative media coverage is likely to have stopped some doctors from prescribing statins to people who would have benefited from them, and will also have made patients more resistant to using them.
However, despite the results shown here, it is still ultimately up to a doctor and patient to decide on the best course of treatment.
1 Collins R, Reith C, Emberson J, et al. Interpretation of the evidence for the efficacy and safety of statin therapy. The Lancet. Published online September 8 2016
Statins ARE safe and we should give them to six million more people because benefits outweigh any harm, says biggest study ever. Daily Mail, September 9 2016
Statins review says benefits 'underestimated'. BBC News, September 8 2016
Side-Effects Of Statins Dangerously Exaggerated, Review Warns. Sky News, September 9 2016
A third of adults should take statins, new research suggests. The Daily Telegraph, September 8 2016
Statins prevent 80,000 heart attacks and strokes a year in UK, study finds. The Guardian, September 8 2016
Millions of Brits taking statins for high cholesterol given news the drug is safe. Daily Mirror, September 8 2016