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Cholesterol-lowering Statins Linked to Kidney Injury


June 11, 2013 — The British Medical Journal has published a study linking “high-potency” statins like Crestor, Lipitor, and Zocor to a 34% increased risk of kidney injury than “low-potency” statins. The researchers estimate that one extra person will be hospitalized for acute kidney damage for every 1,700 patients who take a high-potency statin for 120 days. Although this may seem small, tens of millions of Americans take statins and there may be thousands of cases of statin-induced kidney damage.

The data was pooled from medical records on more than 2 million people using either “high-potency” statins or “low-potency” statins, with approximately one-third of the participants on a “high-potency” statin. All of the patients were over 40 and used the medications for 120 days between 1997 and April 2008.

Statins with “high-potency” included:

  • Crestor (rosuvastatin): 10-mg and more
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin): 20-mg and more
  • Zocor (simvastatin): 40-mg and more
  • All other statins were “low-potency.”

When the study was published in March, the researchers also published an editorial recommending that physicians take care to balance the increased risk of kidney damage and kidney failure with the cardiovascular benefits of prescribing statins. Over the last decade, there has been a trend toward prescribing higher-potency statins with the hope of increased cardiovascular benefits.


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