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Study: Statins not to blame for memory loss

Researchers blame prevalence of short-term memory loss reports by patients using statins on "detection bias."

By
Stephen Feller
Statin drugs most likely do not cause short-term memory loss, according to a new study that refutes the long-held assertion. Photo: Image Point Fr/Sutterstock
Statin drugs most likely do not cause short-term memory loss, according to a new study that refutes the long-held assertion. Photo: Image Point Fr/Sutterstock

NEWARK, N.J., June 9 (UPI) -- Despite previous assertions, a study of nearly one million people shows that statins themselves most likely do not cause short-term memory loss.

Researchers believe that "detection bias" is to blame for the high number of patients who report short-term memory loss in the first 30 days after beginning to take statins.

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The study compared 482,542 patients using statins with 482,543 people not taking any kind of cholesterol lowering drugs, as well as a group of 26,484 who were using non-statin cholesterol-lowering drugs. Researchers found there were reports of short-term memory loss among participants using statins as opposed to those were were not.

Patients who were using non-statin cholesterol drugs reported the same short-term memory incidents as those using statins. This means, researchers said, that either all cholesterol-lowering drugs cause short-term memory loss, which is unlikely because the drugs have completely different structures, or these incidents blamed on a drug are the fault of "detection bias."

"When patients are put on statins or any new drug, they're seen more often by their doctor, or they themselves are paying attention to whether anything is wrong," said Brian L. Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, in a press release. "So if they have a memory problem, they're going to notice it. Even if it has nothing to do with the drug, they're going to blame it on the drug."

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The study is published in Internal Medicine.

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