Statins don't just help the heart – they may also protect against effects of binge-drinking, say scientists
Cholesterol-lowering drugs lowered risk of pancreatitis by 21 per cent compared to placebo and other treatments
09:16 GMT, 22 August 2012
Statins are taken eacy day by seven million adults in the UK
Cholesterol-lowering drugs are taken by millions of Britons to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes, but scientists say they could have another unexpected benefit.
A study has found statins can also protect people from pancreatitis, which results in 25,000 hospital admissions and 950 deaths a year.
The pancreas is an organ behind the stomach that produces both digestive juices as well as hormones including insulin. Pancreatitis results if it becomes inflamed – usually due to gallstones or excessive drinking.
Previous research had suggested statins could raise the risk of inflammation, but a new review suggests the opposite is true.
The study, led by Dr David Preiss, from the University of Glasgow, analysed 16 studies where researchers looked at people known to be at risk from pancreatitis due to having high levels of triglycerides – a type of fat in the blood stream.
The studies found the risk from pancreatitis was 21 per cent lower among those taking statins compared to patients taking a placebo, or an alternative treatment such as fibrates.
A section of a human pancreas with chronic pancreatitis – a condition that causes permanent damage
Writing in the medical journal Jama the team stated: 'In patients with slightly elevated triglyceride
levels, statins appear better supported by the data for preventing
The researchers noted that lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are key for people with high fat levels.
Statins are taken by seven million people in the UK, costing the NHS 450million a year.
Maureen Talbot, Senior
Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'The use of statins is the main reason why fewer
people have high cholesterol levels now compared to 20 years ago.'