Statins show little promise for conditions other than heart disease

Medicines commonly prescribed to reduce people’s risk of heart attack may have limited use for treating other diseases, research suggests.

Previous studies had suggested the cholesterol-cutting drugs – called statins – might help people with non-heart related conditions too, including cancer, dementia and kidney disease.

Experts reviewed hundreds of studies and found positive signs the drugs could benefit people with certain conditions, in addition to their proven effects on heart disease, but the results are inconclusive.

The researchers say there is not enough evidence to support a change in current guidance for the way these drugs are prescribed.

Statins are a group of medicines that help to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. They are often prescribed to older people to help reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke, a benefit that is well established.

Researchers led by the University of Edinburgh analysed results from 256 studies that had investigated the benefits of taking statins for 278 non-heart disease conditions.

They found that statins can help to prevent deaths from kidney disease, which is already recognised in clinical guidelines. This may be because of the drugs’ effects on lowering heart disease risk as there is no clear evidence


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