Science and Health

Statin Users Consuming More Calories, Fat: Study

Researchers say statin users might feel the drug gives them a pass to overindulge on unhealthy foods since it already lowers cholesterol.

Statin Users Consuming More Calories, Fat: Study
Flickr / SteFou!

Doctors prescribe millions of Americans statins every year to lower cholesterol, but a recently published study has found a new side effect from taking the drug: weight gain from overeating. 

Researchers at UCLA compared calorie and fat intake as well as body weights of statin users and non-users over a 10-year period. What they found was a 9.6 percent increase in consumed calories and a 14.4 percent increase in consumed fat. (Via Flickr / SteFou!, AJC1)

Statins are typically prescribed to people who have suffered a stroke or a heart attack and can be used to reduce cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular diseases. 

"It basically interferes with the way cholesterol is made, absorbed and cleaned out of the body." (Via CNN)

But a writer for Medical Daily says the statins also give users the "false presumption that the drug allows them to overindulge on fatty foods without any consequence. These patients will often stop practicing healthy lifestyles after they begin taking statin and 'let the drug do all the work.'"

Takehiro Sugiyama, a researcher involved with the study, told USA Today "Statin users check their cholesterol levels regularly, so they may learn they do not need to restrict their diet to achieve (cholesterol) level goals."

According to CBS, nearly 25 million Americans currently take statins and with new guidelines from two national heart organizations, that number could increase by nearly 13 million.  

Medical Daily adds the study doesn't prove that statins are causing patients to eat unhealthily, but it should be a message to doctors to stress nutrition to patients and a message to patients to follow that advice. The study is published on the JAMA Internal Medicine site.