A wonder drug taken daily by millions of Britons to control cholesterol could dramatically increase the risk of kidney damage, researchers warn. High doses of statins, prescribed to prevent heart disease and stroke, are linked to higher rates of acute kidney injury, they say. The risk is highest in the first 120 days of treatment and stays raised for at least two years after patients start taking the pills. Leading doctors are now warning that the drugs should only be prescribed at a low dose where possible. Author of the Canadian report, Professor Colin Dormuth, said: “In some cases, patients may be exposed to unnecessary risk of kidney damage for small gains in cardiovascular health.

Although the absolute risk of kidney damage with these drugs is low, our findings put into question the common approach of using higher doses to push cholesterol levels lower and lower.” Researchers from Dr Dormuth’s University of British Columbia and the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal studied more than two million statin users… Dr Pierre Ernst, professor of medicine at the McGill University Centre for Clinical Epidemiology in Montreal, who was involved in the research, said: “We are not saying don’t take statins. “If you are giving patients a high dose statin, let’s make sure there is a good reason. A high dose might be beneficial for those who have had a heart attack or have high cholesterol, and then they are life- saving.


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March 22, 2013