Harvard Heart Letter

When a drug you take comes under fire

Ask these questions to determine whether the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks.

Attention-grabbing headlines such as "Statin Use Tied to Cataracts" and "Patients Taking Antihypertensive Drugs Show Increase in Lip Cancer" can make some readers so fearful that they stop taking their medication. The truth is that these headlines and articles are often misleading. Often, the chance of experiencing the frightening side effect is so small that the benefits of taking the medication far outweigh the risk.

Many times, it's impossible to prove that the medication caused the problem. "These studies do not give you the full picture," says Dr. Richard Lee, co-editor in chief of the Harvard Heart Letter.

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