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Taking a Statin? Expect Many Health Benefits

Taking a Statin? Expect Many Health Benefits

Here's a surprise: Statins' "fringe benefits," such as curing deadly cases of the flu, may make taking a statin even more important than its original purpose: to lower cholesterol and prevent heart attacks and strokes. What makes statins such medical superpowers?

First, they lower cholesterol (LDL cholesterol to be exact), which helps keep your arteries younger, more flexible and freer of plaque. That's terrific for your heart, brain, and every one of your roughly 10,000,000,000,000 cells (that's 10 trillion; we couldn't read it either). Second, statins cool chronic inflammation—in effect cooling cancer activity and cardiovascular mayhem, not to mention reducing inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis.

But that's not all. Taking a statin can lead to other health benefits besides lower cholesterol and reduced inflammation.

  • Protect against prostate cancer, enlarged prostates and erectile dysfunction.
  • Fend off dangerous blood clots in both your legs and lungs.
  • Slash your risk of cataracts.
  • Protect against Alzheimer's disease. Some statins—particularly rosuvastatin and atorvastatin—could cut your risk 60 percent. (Here are 6 more ways to cut your Alzheimer's risk in half.)
  • Shrink and stabilize any plaque pileups already in your arteries.
  • Help protect type 2 diabetics against their extra-high threat of heart disease.

And check out this news: It turns out that the top benefit of taking statins for years isn't protecting you against heart disease and stroke, though that doesn't waver. Long-term statin use also greatly reduces your chances of dying from infectious diseases. This new finding startled even statin researchers. (Facing a hospital stay? Declare germ warfare on hospital-caused infections.)

Furthermore, brand new data shows that if you get a seriously nasty flu infection (flu kills thousands every year), statins are lifesavers. People hospitalized for influenza who don't take statins are almost twice as likely to die from flu as those who do. Here are signs that flu has turned life threatening.

Tiny pill, monster payoffs.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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