Artificially reducing cholesterol to very low levels may slightly increase the risk of cancer, but that doesn't mean heart patients should go off their meds. One extra cancer case occurred in each 1,000 patients using statin drugs in an analysis of 23 different trials, Reuters reports; researchers hastened to caution that that doesn't mean the drugs caused the increase.
The Tufts University study, known as a meta-analysis, compiled statistics on more than 41,000 patients; it zeroed in on those with the lowest LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels. "You have to be careful," says one statin expert. "People stop taking their statins because they are afraid of cancer and then they die of heart attacks."