statins, ineffectiveness, adverse effects, memory, muscle pain, sexual difficulties, forgetfulness, Cochrane, Colin Baigent

Effectiveness of Statins Questioned

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Effectiveness of Statins Questioned

The Cochrane group, respected researchers who review the medical literature looking for evidence of effectiveness of treatment strategies published a report in January 2011 questioning the benefit of statin drugs in preventing initial heart attacks or strokes. They suggested that studies showing benefit had been biased by drug industry funding.

The Cochrane report correctly pointed out that statin drugs can cause short-term adverse effects, such as memory loss and depression and that the result of their long-term use is unknown.

Not surprisingly, the report has been loudly criticized by statin proponents. One, Dr. Colin Baigent, a British researcher, denounced the Cochrane conclusions as unwarranted. He argued that statins are extremely safe and do not cause the adverse effects mentioned in the Cochrane report. He believes that nearly everyone should be placed on statin drugs as they are “cheap” and the benefit of taking them far outweighs any risk.

I, on the other hand, am extremely pleased to see someone in the medical realm question the widespread use of statin drugs and admit that they can cause undesirable effects in the short-term and have not been studied for potential adverse effects with long-term use. I consistently see individuals who are experiencing muscle pain, increasing forgetfulness, sexual difficulties, and other side effects from statin drugs. I am convinced that the incidence of anxiety and depression rises as cholesterol levels fall in the brain. I am also concerned that long-term statin use can increase the risk of developing cancer over time.

Medical researchers do not like to admit that industry-funded studies are biased and produce misleading results. It is refreshing to see someone state the obvious – people do not want to bite the hand that is feeding them and therefore researchers design studies in ways that produce results that are pleasing to those who are paying their salaries. Hopefully the Cochrane review will encourage others to reassess questionable treatment strategies.


Dale Peterson, M.D.