UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

March 10, 2009

NEW QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT STATINS

Daily Mail, UK - Could statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs taken by more than three million Britons, be doing more harm than good to many thousands of patients? This is the rather alarming suggestion to emerge from two new studies.

The research challenges the medical convention that lowering your cholesterol is always a good thing - indeed, they suggest statins may affect intelligence, cause depression and even raise the risk of suicide. . .

In patients vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes, the drugs reduce the risk of fatty deposits gathering in their bloodstream and causing life-threatening blood clots.

But cholesterol is also produced by the brain, where it is used to release vital chemicals called neurotransmitters that carry messages between brain cells. Now a study by Iowa State University suggests that statins inhibit this vital process.

When brain cells are deprived of cholesterol, they are five times less effective at releasing chemical messengers, says the research, published in the highly respected journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences.

'If you deprive cholesterol from the brain, then you directly affect how smart you are and how well you remember things,' says Yeon-Kyun Shin, the biophysics professor behind the study. 'This may lead to depression and irrational acts.' He believes this is directly caused by disruption in the neurotransmitter release in the brain.

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