Harvard Heart Letter

Statin users eating more calories and fat

If you're taking a cholesterol-lowering statin, don't use it as an excuse to slack off on your diet and sneak in extra calories and fat. Apparently, that's what statin users have done in recent years, according to a JAMA Internal Medicine study that looked at diet records from nearly 28,000 adults over a 12-year period.

People who took statins ate 10% more calories and 14% more fat during 2009–2010 than they did in 1999–2000. No such increases were seen in people who were not taking statins, the researchers found. Among statin users, body mass index (BMI) scores rose an average of 1.3 points, which translates to about 9 pounds of weight gain over a decade.

These trends directly contradict the recommendations for statin use, which advise people taking statins to eat less fat and avoid weight gain. As the researchers wrote, the aim of statin therapy "should be to allow patients to decrease risks that cannot be decreased without medication, not to empower them to put butter on their steaks."

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