Ive written so many stories urging temperance and moderation in the use of statin drugs that Im tempted to stop covering the topic (that or make it a monthly column!). But that would be irresponsible, given how aggressively the medical establishment continues to push this pharmaceutical blockbuster. The newest research, from Britain, warns of statin-related liver, kidney and eye problems -- so lets add those three to a list thats long already, including muscle pain and weakness, nerve damage, insomnia, fatigue, headache, memory loss, constipation, diarrhea and more that are as yet formally unreported. I put in a call to old friend and statin expert Jay S. Cohen, MD, author of the book What You Must Know About Statin Drugs and Their Natural Alternatives. Dr. Cohen told me these "new" complications really come as no surprise since doctors have been hearing anecdotal reports for a long while, and the drug industry hasnt gone out of its way to bring them to our attention. New Statin Research At the University of Nottingham, investigators examined the health records of more than two million patients in 368 medical practices in Great Britain. Nearly 226,000 of the patients were taking statin drugs. Looking at reports of adverse outcomes in these patients from 2002 to 2008 and extrapolating those to the future, researchers calculated that... For every 10,000 women who take statins, an extra 74 will develop liver dysfunction... 23 more will experience acute kidney failure... 307 will get cataracts... and 39 will experience muscle ailments. The numbers are small, but the findings are statistically significant -- and, if you are among the affected, quite troubling. These rates are similar in men, except that men taking statins have even higher rates of muscle disease. Liver and kidney complications appear to be dose-related. The higher the statin dose, the greater the risk for acute liver dysfunction and renal failure. One statin drug -- fluvastatin (Lescol), which is also the least potent statin drug -- was associated with a higher risk for liver dysfunction than other statins. These results were published in the May 21, 2010, online issue of the British Medical Journal. Beware: Danger Ahead Many health experts still insist that the benefits of statins -- preventing heart disease, heart attack and stroke -- outweigh their risks. Indeed, for every 10,000 women in the study who took statins, there were about 271 fewer cases of heart disease. But while he acknowledges that cautious use of these drugs can play a sensible role in heart health for some people, Dr. Cohen emphasizes that optimal care should begin with nutrition and exercise... proceed to natural interventions, including multi-B supplements featuring therapeutic niacin, omega-3 oils, L-carnitine, red yeast rice, and plant stanols and sterols... and only then, if necessary, progress to pharmaceuticals. If you do need to take a statin, urges Dr. Cohen, take the smallest possible effective dose, and make sure that you discuss the risk for side effects with your doctor. Also consider bringing a natural medicine specialist, like an ND, onto your treatment team. You can learn more at Dr. Cohens Web site, www.MedicationSense.com. Source(s): Jay S. Cohen, MD, a nationally recognized expert on medications and side effects. Dr. Cohen is author of What You Must Know About Statin Drugs and Their Natural Alternatives (Square One) and Over Dose: The Case Against the Drug Companies (Tarcher/Putnam). He is based in Del Mar, California.