are statins’ benefits worth their risks?

The cholesterol-lowering statins drugs are among the most widely prescribed. By lowering cholesterol, proponents say, drugs such as Crestor and Lipitor help reduce the risk of killer strokes and heart disease. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal considered the benefits and risks of the drugs, and came up with some interesting findings. The researchers considered data on more than 2 million English patients. Among the women, they found 271 fewer cases of heart disease and eight fewer cases of esophageal cancer for every 10,000 high-risk women treated with the drugs. On the flip side, however, they found high levels of side effects: 74 extra cases of liver dysfunctions, 307 cases of cataracts, 23 cases of acute renal failure and 39 cases of muscle pain and weakness. The numbers were similar among male patients, although the men experienced more of the muscle side effects. (Via Reuters.)