Monday, October 26, 2009

Too many questions for statins to be the answer

We'd all love to find the silver bullet - a pill we could all pop that would make us live longer and/or reduce the risk of serious disease. Drugs companies and alternative practitioners alike sometimes like to imply they've found it. I doubt we ever will.

For a while it looked as if statins, drugs which lower cholesterol, could fit the bill. That all changed a few years ago. Ever since cerivastatin was removed from the US and European markets in 2001 because of a link to rhabdomyolysis, a muscle-wasting disease that can cause kidney failure, statins have been controversial.

New research published today adds to the confusion by suggesting that statins might slightly increase the risk of diabetes. This research while not particularly alarming in itself adds to the impression that we still don't really know how statins work. Given that we also don't really know the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease, there seem to be just one or two too many unknowns to justify giving these drugs to otherwise healthy people.

No comments: