Statins linked to increased risk of skin infections

Statins, a class of drugs commonly used to lower cholesterol, may increase the risk of skin infections, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Statins were already known to increase the risk of diabetes, and diabetes increases the risk for staphylococcus infections in the skin and underlying soft tissue, according to The New York Times. However, the new study shows statins may cause skin infections independent of diabetes.

Researchers used data from the Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs from 2001 to 2011 to track prescriptions for statins and match them with prescriptions for anti-diabetic drugs and antibiotics for staph infections. The study concluded that patients taking statins, with or without diabetes, had about a 40 percent increased chance of developing a staph infection.

Lipitor and Zocor had the strongest associations with skin infections, according to The New York Times. The risk for infection was highest in the first three months after starting taking statins and declined in time, but was still significant at one year.

Lead author Humphrey H.T. Ko, a doctoral student at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, told The New York Times that the benefits of statins still largely outweigh the risk for diabetes and skin infections and that patients should not stop taking statins.

Read the full article here.

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