Statins side effects: Liver damage and increased fat around the belly could occur

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Doctors often prescribe statins for people with high cholesterol to lower their total cholesterol and reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke. While statins are highly effective and safe for most people, they have been linked to muscle pain, digestive problems and mental fuzziness in some people who take them and may rarely cause liver damage.

Occasionally, statin use could cause an increase in the level of enzymes that signal liver inflammation, said The Mayo Clinic.

The health site continued: “If the increase is only mild, you can continue to take the drug.

“Rarely, if the increase is severe, you may need to try a different statin.

“Although liver problems are rare, your doctor may order a liver enzyme test before or shortly after you begin to take a statin.

“You wouldn’t need any additional liver enzyme tests unless you begin to have signs or symptoms of trouble with your liver.

“Contact your doctor immediately if you have unusual fatigue or weakness, loss of appetite, pain in your upper abdomen, dark-coloured urine, or yellowing of your skin or eyes.”

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Researchers have also discovered calories and fat intake increase among statin users compared to non-users.

They have found over a 10-year period, in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, statin users gained more weight.

Health authorities worry that this inconvenient truth might deter some people from taking statins, even if they really need them.

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In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, statins ability to increase body and liver fat accumulation was further investigated.

The study noted: “The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of statins on body and liver fat accumulation in obese Zucker rats.

“Seventy Zucker rats were divided into seven groups.

“Rats from six statin groups were treated with pravastatin, simvastatin, atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, fluvastatin and lovastatin respectively, at a dose of 0.6 mg/kg body weight/day.

“After six weeks, liver and white adipose tissue from intra-abdominal and subcutaneous locations were dissected and weighed.”

The study found that subcutaneous adipose tissue from rosuvastatin, atorvastatin, fluvastatin and lovastatin treated rats was significantly increased.

“All statins, with the exception of simvastatin, worsened insulin resistance,” added the study.

“These results show that statins have different effects on body fat accumulation.

“Moreover, rosuvastatin also shows a prosteatotic effect. These results should be taken into account for statin choice in prescription.”

Although side effects believed to be caused by statins can be annoying, consider the benefits of taking a statin before you decide to stop taking your medication, said the Mayo Clinic.

It added: “Remember that statin medications can reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, and the risk of life-threatening side effects from statins is very low.

“If you have read about the potential side effects of statins, you may be more likely to blame your symptoms on the medication, whether or not they’re truly caused by the drug.

“Even if your side effects are frustrating, don’t stop taking your statin medication for any period of time without talking to your doctor first.”

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