A new study has revealed that safety and life-saving efficacy of statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs prescribed to prevent heart attacks, have been exaggerated.
University of South Florida's David M. Diamond and researcher Uffe Ravnskov said that hailed as "miracle drugs" when they hit the market two decades ago, statins, are not as effective or as safe as we have been led to believe.
According to Diamond and Ravnskov, statins produce a dramatic reduction in cholesterol levels, but they have failed to substantially improve cardiovascular outcomes, adding that the many studies touting the efficacy of statins have not only neglected to account for the numerous serious adverse side effects of the drugs, but supporters of statins have used what the authors refer to as statistical deception to make inflated claims about their effectiveness.
The paper also describes how the basis of the deception is in how authors of the statin studies present the rate of beneficial and adverse effects. The effect of the drugs on the population is called the "absolute risk," which has shown that statins benefit only about 1percent of the population, which means that only one out of 100 people treated with a statin will have one less heart attack.
Statin researchers, however, don't present the 1percent effect to the public. Instead they transform the 1percent effect using another statistic, called the relative risk, which creates the appearance that statins benefit 30-50 percent of the population.
Diamond and Ravnskov explained that the adverse effects suffered by people taking statins are more common than reported in the media and at medical conferences and increased rates of cancer, cataracts, diabetes, cognitive impairments and musculoskeletal disorders more than offset the modest cardiovascular benefits of statin treatment.
Researchers concluded that there is a great appeal to the public to take a pill that offers the promise of a longer life and to live heart attack free. The reality, however, is that statins actually produce only small beneficial effects on cardiovascular outcomes, and their adverse effects are far more substantial than is generally known.
The study is published in the journal Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology.