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MagazineNovember 1993 (Vol. 4 Issue 8)Questran

Questran is one of a host of drugs routinely prescribed to lower supposedly raised cholesterol levels in patients

Questran is one of a host of drugs routinely prescribed to lower supposedly raised cholesterol levels in patients. Prescriptions of cholesterol lowering drugs generally are on the up and up. According to the Department of Health, between 1986 and 19

One recent study (BMJ, 22 May 1993) suggests that, at best, the numbers of people likely to be helped by these drugs is small. Only those "at very high initial risk of coronary heart disease" were likely to benefit; for those at medium risk, the drugs made no difference; and those at low risk were more likely to die if they were being treated. Quite simply, cholesterol lowering drugs may reduce your risk of heart attack, but you are more likely to die instead from cancer, respiratory disease, trauma and digestive diseases. (Such deaths were not, however, associated with cholesterol levels lowered by changes in diet.)

No association has been proved between supposedly high cholesterol levels in women and heart disease, something which "reinforces doubts about the wisdom of extrapolating results derived from high risk middle aged men to the female population", according to the BMJ.

Side effects specifically associated with Questran (cholestyramine) include constipation, flatulence, heartburn, nausea, diarrhoea, stomach upsets, skin rashes and, rarely, fat in the faeces. It can also lead to vitamin K deficiency, which may cause increased bleeding due to the inability of the blood to clot properly. In animal studies, cholestyramine has been shown to cause intestinal cancer.

HRT is not for everybody

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