According to British researchers, people without heart disease should think twice before taking cholesterol-lowering statins. While statins require a prescription in the US, they are sold over the counter in England, and one in three Brits over 40 are currently using them. In a report by the Cochrane Collaboration, researchers found the drugs did appear to slash deaths ever so slightly in patients at low risk of heart disease. But many of the reports they looked at -- all but one funded by drugmakers -- were flawed. In particular, while all the studies focused on benefits, only half provided information on the side effects of the drugs.
Pooling the results, they estimated that treating 1,000 people with statins for one year would lower the number of deaths from nine to eight. The researchers believe that trial funders, investigators and journal editors have failed to provide adequate information to doctors and their patients to assess the benefits and harms of statins in primary prevention.