Statins may lead some patients to pig out, according to study - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Statins may lead some patients to pig out, according to study

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(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File). FILE - This June 14, 2011, file photo, shows the drug Lipitor at Medco Health Solutions Inc., in Willingboro, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File). FILE - This June 14, 2011, file photo, shows the drug Lipitor at Medco Health Solutions Inc., in Willingboro, N.J.
CHICAGO - Ten years of U.S. data suggest cholesterol-lowering statins are giving patients a license to pig out.

Calorie and fat intake increased among statin users during the decade - an indication that many patients might be abandoning heart-healthy lifestyles and assuming that drugs alone will do the trick, the study authors said.

They said the goals of statin treatment should be to help patients achieve benefits unattainable by other methods, "not to empower them to put butter on their steak."

Statins may keep cholesterol low even if people eat less healthy food and slack off on exercise, but those bad habits can contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other problems that are bad for the heart. The study was published online Thursday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Dr. Rita Redberg, the journal's editor, said the study "raises concerns of a potential moral hazard of statin use," in addition to already known potential side effects risks including muscle aches and diabetes.

"Statins provide a false reassurance," she said. "People seem to believe that statins can compensate for poor dietary choices and sedentary life."

The researchers examined 1990-2010 government health surveys involving nearly 28,000 adults aged 20 and older. Different people were surveyed each year, underwent physical exams and blood tests, and reported their food intake. The portion who used statins steadily increased, from 8 percent in the first year to 17 percent in the final year.

Statin users in the first year consumed on average 2,000 calories daily; those in the final year consumed 2,192 daily calories. Average fat intake also increased, from 72 grams daily to 82 grams daily. Experts generally recommend no more than 77 grams daily for adults consuming 2,000 calories daily. The increase was seen in total fat intake and saturated fats, the least healthy kind.

Diabetes also increased - 29 percent of statin users had it in 2010 versus 22 percent in the study's first year. A link between statin use and diabetes has been documented previously, but reasons for the trend in the study are uncertain.

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