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Statins Won't Hurt, Might Even Help, Your Pancreas: Study
Date:8/21/2012

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Statins don't raise the risk of pancreatitis, a painful and potentially life-threatening inflammation, a new review finds.

Putting to rest concerns raised by previous research, this new study finds cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin) may actually help ward off pancreatitis. The pooled analysis of 21 published and unpublished randomized, controlled trials -- the gold standard of medical research -- found that people taking statins were at 18 percent to 23 percent reduced chance of developing pancreatitis.

Researchers also looked at a class of drugs called fibrates, which doctors prescribe for people with high triglycerides, another type of blood fat. Their analysis found a slight, but statistically insignificant, increase of developing pancreatitis from fibrates.

"Statins seem to carry a previously unrecognized benefit of reducing pancreatitis risk, which actually contradicts what was previously reported in the literature," said senior study author Dr. David Preiss, a physician at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

The study is published in the Aug. 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach, makes digestive enzymes and hormones including insulin.

Prior studies have suggested that statins may increase the risk of pancreatitis, but the new review of data from trials that included more than 150,000 participants found no such connection.

"This data give us confidence we don't need to worry about pancreatitis occurring from statin drugs," said Dr. Robert Eckel, past president of the American Heart Association and a professor of medicine at University of Colorado, in Denver.

Statins work by reducing LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and studies have shown this reduces heart attacks and strokes,
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