Statins Have Wide Range of Unintended Adverse Effects

But no significant association seen with a large number of diseases
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Statins appear to have no significant association with a large number of diseases, but they may have a wide range of unintended adverse effects, according to data published in the May 20 online edition of the BMJ.

Julia Hippisley-Cox, M.D., and Carol Coupland, Ph.D., of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, conducted a prospective open cohort study of 2,004,692 patients aged 30-84, including 225,922 (10.7 percent) of whom were new users of statins, to quantify the unintended effects of statins according to type, dose and duration of use.

The researchers found that statins were not significantly associated with risk of Parkinson's disease; rheumatoid arthritis; venous thromboembolism; dementia; osteoporotic fracture; gastric, colon, lung, renal, breast or prostate cancer; or melanoma. However, statin use was linked to a decreased risk of esophageal cancer, but an increased risk of moderate or serious liver dysfunction, acute renal failure, moderate or serious myopathy and cataract. The adverse effects were similar across all types of statins with the exception of liver dysfunction risk, which was highest for fluvastatin. All increased risks were highest in the first year and persisted during treatment.

"Claims of unintended benefits of statins, except for esophageal cancer, remain unsubstantiated, although potential adverse effects at population level were confirmed and quantified. Further studies are needed to develop utilities to individualize the risks so that patients at highest risk of adverse events can be monitored closely," the authors write.

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