Preventative drugs-such as cholesterol-lowering statins-may be doing more harm than good, and people could be better off not taking them, a major new study of seriously-ill patients has found.
A group of patients with end-stage cancer and other terminal diseases saw an overall improvement in the quality of their lives when they were taken off statins. Not only did none of the patients die as a result, they all lived slightly longer than others who kept taking the drugs.
There are many situations when preventative medicine is doing more harm than good, especially in patients reaching the end of their life, says researcher Jean Kutner from the University of Colorado.
Other preventative drugs whose use may need re-examining include those for osteoporosis, blood clots, high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes.
In the study, researchers tracked how half the 381 terminally-ill patients fared when they stopped taking statins. Aside from reporting an improved quality of life, the non-statin group lived an average of 229 days compared to an average of 190 days in the statin group.
(Source: Proceedings of the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting)