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Dr Chris: Statins could reduce breast cancer deaths by 40%

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The primary benefit of taking statins is to lower the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is a fatty substance that can gum up your arteries and hike your risk of heart disease. Statins produce this effect by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol. Despite the drugs efficiency, a range of side effects may ensue including these two peculiar symptoms.

Chronic constipation

In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, possible association between statin use and bowel dysmotility was further investigated.

The study noted: “The side effects of statins include diarrhoea and constipation, although no pathophysiological explanation is provided by the manufacturer.

“There are various mechanisms that have been postulated by which statins are thought to induce myotoxicity.

“Such theories include blocking mevalonic acid production, depleting coenzyme Q10 and inducing selenoprotein dysfunction.

“Another possible mechanism by which statins can have this effect may be related to nitric oxide levels.

“There is some evidence to imply that nitric oxide acts on inhibitory nerves in the colon to produce impaired motility.”

Flatulence

Statins are the most widely prescribed class of medications which help to reduce cholesterol levels and protect patients against heart attacks and strokes, said Dr Mark Babyatsky.

He continued: “Unfortunately, one of the most common side effects is flatulence (the presence of excessive gas in the digestive tract), which occurs in up to five percent of patients taking statins.

“It may help to reduce other sources of extra gas by drinking fewer carbonated beverages and eating smaller portions of food more slowly to reduce swallowed air.”

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Other side effects from statin use include:

  • Feeling sick (nausea) or indigestion
  • Headaches
  • Aches and pains in your back and joints
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sore throat
  • Cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, skin sensitivity and lipitor blocked nose or sneezing
  • Wind
  • Diarrhoea

It is worth noting that most people tolerate statins well and do not have any problems.

“You should discuss the benefits and risks of taking statins with your doctor before you start taking the medicine,” advises the NHS.

According to the health body, if you find certain side effects particularly troublesome, talk to the doctor in charge of your care.

“Your dose may need to be adjusted or you may need a different type of statin,” it adds.

Alternative approaches

Statins are just one of a number of interventions you can make to lower high cholesterol levels.

Overhauling your diet is key to lowering high cholesterol levels and there are a number of items you should avoid.

Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, are particularly troublesome.

As the Mayo Clinic points out, decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce the “bad” cholesterol in your blood.
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