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Statin Use Tied to Eye, Kidney, Liver Troubles
Date:5/20/2010

But heart-healthy benefits of the cholesterol drugs outweigh these risks, experts say

THURSDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- People taking cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may be at heightened risk for liver dysfunction, acute kidney failure and cataracts, British researchers report.

Statins, which include the blockbuster drugs Lipitor, Pravachol, Crestor and Zocor, are recommended for patients with high cholesterol. Studies have shown that these drugs are effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attack.

While the drugs have long been linked with a raised risk for muscle problems, the new study involving over 2 million patients found other "potential adverse effects of statins, namely myopathy [muscle problems], acute renal [kidney] failure, liver dysfunction and cataract, and shown that two of these have a dose-response effect," said lead researcher Dr. Julia Hippisley-Cox, professor of clinical epidemiology and general practice at the University of Nottingham.

On the more positive side, the study found no link between statin use and risks for a wide range of cancers (including stomach, colon, lung, renal, breast or prostate malignancies), as well as no connection to Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, blood clots, dementia or fractures.

And experts say that, given the drugs' well-known benefit in cutting heart disease risk, the new findings are no reason for patients to shy away from statins.

The report is published in the May 21 online edition of the BMJ.

For the study, Hippisley-Cox and her colleague Carol Coupland, an associate professor in medical statistics, collected data on more than 2 million people, including almost 226,000 patients who were new statin users. Among these patients, they looked for adverse outcomes from January 2002 through June 2008.

As noted in previous studies, statin use was also linked to a higher risk for m
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