Few studies have until now been carried out into the benefits or risks of not using this medication, and the probes have been small and short-term. In the biggest and longest investigation of its kind, doctors in Greece enrolled 437 patients who had abnormal liver function tests and were believed to have NAFLD. Of these, 227 of whom were treated with a statin, while the others were not treated. Over the three-year duration of the study, 10 percent of patients in the statin group had a heart attack or a stroke, while in the non-statin group, this was 20 percent.
The benefit for the statin group was a relative risk reduction of more than two-thirds. Bouts of liver-related sickness were equal in both groups, indicating no adverse affects on the liver from taking statins. The study was led by Vasilis Athyros from the Hippokration University Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece and Dimitri Mikhailidis from University College London, London.
The findings demonstrated emphatically that many patients with liver disease had been wrongly denied statins for high cholesterol for too long. Most physicians believe that statins cause liver disease because of the language of package inserts. Drug companies should be encouraged to request the deletion of this point from the insert. Statins have been dubbed “the aspirin of the 21st century” for their perceived benefits in cardiovascular health and relatively few side effects.