Statins side effects: Can the popular drug affect your appetite? What you need to know

Fitness & Health:

Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. The cholesterol-lowering drug is known to cause a variety of side effects however, including one’s weight.

Statin use is associated with increased calorie intake and consequent weight gain.

The objective of the study was to examine the direct effects of statins on leptin expression.

Leptin is a key hormone in the homeostatic regulation of body weight.


Increases and decreases in leptin cause decreases and increases in food intake, respectively.

“The role of statins in regulation of leptin is conflicting. While several clinical studies suggest that statin therapy is associated with decreased systemic leptin, some studies have shown that statin therapy does not contribute to any change in leptin levels,” noted the study.

It added: “Therefore, to directly determine the effect of statins on regulation of leptin in the absence of other confounding variables, we used an in vitro approach.

“To the best of our knowledge, we show for the first time that simvastatin and atorvastatin decrease the leptin expression in primary human adipocytes.

“Our study shows an approximate 20 percent reduction in leptin transcription in response to atorvastatin and simvastatin treatment.

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“Atorvastatin use in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes has also been shown to cause up to 40 percent reduction in circulating leptin.

“In other words, a modest 20 percent reduction in leptin via weight loss or statin use may be physiologically relevant, with increases in food intake, hence promoting weight gain.”

Another study published in Research Gate, looked at statin use and weight gain.

The study noted: “Statin use is associated with increased calorie intake and consequent weight gain.

“It is speculated that statin-dependent improvements in lipid profile may undermine the perceived need to follow lipid-lowering and other dietary recommendations leading consequently to increased calorie intake.”

The study concluded that statins act directly on human white adipocytes to regulate adipokine secretion and decrease leptin expression.

“Leptin is an important satiety factor,” it added.

“Hence, statin-dependent decreases in leptin may contribute, at least in part, to increases in food intake in statin users.”

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you’re taking.

It’s run by a medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The purpose of the scheme is to provide an early warning that the safety of a medicine or a medical device may require further investigation.

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Reports can be made for all medicines including vaccines, blood factors and immunoglobulins, herbal medicines and homeopathic remedies.

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