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The Super Power of Statins

The Super Power of Statins

In a tiny room in London’s New Scotland Yard there’s a police unit made up entirely of officers who have an uncanny ability to recognize human faces. These super-recognizers are transforming the justice system by ID’ing and catching criminals who appear blurry-faced on closed-circuit surveillance cameras.

Statins may have recently-recognized super-powers, too. These super-meds may transform more than your risk of heart disease. For those who tolerate them well (they can have serious side effects or be contraindicated), statins can help protect you from some cancers and reduce the risks associated with osteoarthritis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

You see these heart-protecting medications do more than lower lousy LDL cholesterol. They nudge the immune system to reduce body-wide inflammation. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reveals statins tamp down inflammatory immune cells that cluster around trouble spots, like plaque in arterial walls or damaged cartilage in your joints, and stimulate the arrival of anti-inflammatory immune cells. Statins also appear to influence cell proliferation and migration (fewer trouble-making inflammatory cells may contribute to this benefit)—so they reduce the risk of tumor formation and the possibility of recurrence of cancer. In one Danish study, cancer patients taking a statin reduced their risk of dying during the study period 15 percent.

So, if you’re at risk for heart disease or have any inflammatory condition, talk to your doc about taking a statin. It may help your cardiovascular and immune system super-recognize and expel some elements you don’t want hanging around.

Medically reviewed in October 2018.

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