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Special Concerns for Women

Debate over Statins

Statins, such as Lipitor,® Pravachol® and Mevacor,® have been found most effective for lowering LDL cholesterol in the blood, a risk factor for CVD.  However, most of the research on statins was done in older people with serious heart conditions, not in younger women or people without heart disease. There is no good evidence to support routine use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol in healthy people.  Whether the benefit of statins might actually be due to their anti-inflammatory effects is uncertain. Statins may have negative effects on the liver and cause muscle weakness, pain and fatigue. There is some evidence that they may raise breast cancer risk.  Patients taking statins have also reported memory loss, but this has not been studied in clinical trials and the FDA has not acted on complaints.

For more information about the potential risks of statins and the need to critically look at the research, see Evidence for Caution: Women and Statin Use (.pdf), and  (Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Statin Drugs.

Last revised: March 2005

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