Exploring Statins: What Does the Evidence Say?

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By Electra Kaczorowski

Women's Health Activist May/June 2007

Statin drugs are the best-selling class of drugs in the U.S. These medications (sold under the brand names Lipitor, Crestor, Pravachol, and Zocor, to name a few) block an enzyme in the liver that aids in the production of cholesterol, thereby reducing cholesterol levels and, hopefully, rates of coronary heart disease (CHD). (Most of the cholesterol in the human body is produced by the liver; we also get smaller amounts from our diet). Between 1987, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Mevacor, the first statin, and 2002, statins became one of the most widely prescribed class of drug in the U.S, with 13.1 million monthly prescriptions from June 2006-December 2006. 1

With tens of millions of people -- most of whom are healthy -- taking statins daily, important questions must be asked. What have statins been proven to do? What do they prevent or treat? Who is taking them? Who benefits from them? How do women fit into this picture? Although the answers to all of these questions should have been established long ago, they remain unclear, inconsistent, and largely unavailable to the public.

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