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MagazineApril 2009 (Vol. 20 Issue 1)Statins

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are taken daily by millions of people

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are taken daily by millions of people. Indeed, these drugs are considered so safe that one of them-simvastatin-is available over the counter in the UK without a prescription.

But a new study suggests that stat-ins may cause Parkinson's, a disease of the central nervous system.

Statins reduce levels of the 'bad' LDL cholesterol, but the new study, from the University of North Carolina, believes that these low cholesterol levels may trigger Parkinson's. Suf-ferers can have levels of LDL chol-esterol three times below the average.The researchers are so concerned by their findings that they are initiat-ing an immediate and major study involving 16,000 participants (Mov Disord, epub 18 December 2006).

- A new Harvard study has discovered that only 8 per cent of individuals taking a statin actually have a heart condition. Also, on analyzing the results of eight trials, they found that the statins didn't reduce deaths, not even among those who did have a heart problem (Lancet, 2007; 369: 268-9).

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