Recently, the debate has focused on possible negative long-term effects of statins on memory loss, the incidence of cancer and the development of diabetes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now expanded the warning for statins with a statement that statin use may lead to cognitive impairment.
However, according to a recent study, published in the Journal of the American College for Cardiology, researchers found no significant risk of cancer or memorly loss due to statin use. They did find a small increased risk of type two diabetes.
Cardiologist Dr. Das believes the benefits in the reduction of cardiovascular events definitely outweighs the risks.
"There is a nine percent increase in the chance of developing new diabetes. However, the same population benefits from the use of statins, reducing the cardiovascular outcome. So, the net benefit is actually higher than the bad effect of developing diabetes, and diabetes often develops in people of higher age. So the younger population wouldn't fear developing diabetes as the older patients would."
He says lifestyle change should still be the first-line therapy. However, if the patient's cholesterol level remains abnormal, statins should be considered.
"I would certainly think that the results from the analysis would say these drugs are extremely safe. They do reduce the cardiovascular outcome and the standard of treatment should be to continue using this medication with some caution of looking out for onset of diabetes and treating the diabetes with some other medication.
Dr. Das says patients should try a healthy diet, regular exercise and weight loss before turning to medication.
Lipitor is still the number one prescribed statin.