The benefits of statins highly offset the associated risks in appropriate patients, according to a scientific statement by the American Heart Association. Statins (e.g. Pravachol, Zocor, Lipitor, Crestor, etc.) have been around for over 30 years and are quite effective in lowering cholesterol and have been proven to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death in both patients who have had vascular events and those who have not. In addition, most statins are now generic, making them very affordable and cost-effective.
In an extensive review of the literature pertaining to statin safety and tolerability published in the journal Atherosclerosis in December, the authors concluded that “There is no convincing evidence for a causal relationship between statins and cancer, cataracts, cognitive dysfunction, peripheral neuropathy, erectile dysfunction or tendinitis.” In addition, they found that the incidence of serious muscle complications was less than 0.1% and the risk of serious liver side effects was about 1 in 10,000. The authors noted that statin therapy may slightly increase the risk of diabetes, especially in people who already have risk factors for it. But the absolute risk of new patients being diagnosed with diabetes due to statin use in major trials has been 0.2% per year.
As a result of this analysis, in patients who would benefit from statin therapy, based on the most recent guidelines, cardiovascular benefits greatly exceed the potential safety concerns. Speak with your physician to see if statin therapy is appropriate for you.