© Alamy
Leading GPs, cardiologists and academics are concerned about statin drug side effects which include memory problems, cancer and dizziness.
Giving statins to five million more patients is 'foolhardy' and 'unsafe', according to an Oxford academic.

Professor Klim McPherson warned that too little is known about the side effects of the drugs which include type 2 diabetes and muscular pain.

Tomorrow, the NHS watchdog NICE is expected to publish new guidelines urging GPs to offer them to anyone with a 10 per cent risk of developing heart disease within a decade.

Presently they are only given to those with a 20 per cent risk and around seven million Britons take them.

They cost as little as 10p a day and work by lowering cholesterol in the blood, thereby preventing the arteries becoming clogged with fatty deposits.

Comment: This alone speaks of the ignorance in both mainstream medicine and the media. Lowering cholesterol actually increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in the very studies used to "prove" that cholesterol was bad. Get Big Fat Surprise, read it, and give it to your health care provider.

Hopefully people will catch up with the official science that fat is not bad and we won't have to wait five more decades of the same nonsense that is killing scores of people around the world right now.

If you really want to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, cut down on carbs drastically and avoid GMOs, soy, gluten/grains AND vegetable oils. People with heart attacks usually had a meal cooked in vegetable oils prior to the event. Make sure you don't have iron overload as well. Forget about the saturated animal fat is bad, on the contrary, it is protective!

For more information, see:

-It's official - Time to drop hazardous low fat guidelines
-Saturated fat heart disease 'myth': UK cardiologist calls for change in public health advice on saturated fat

But leading GPs, cardiologists and academics are concerned that not enough is known about side effects which include memory problems, dizziness, type 2 diabetes and muscular pain.

They point out that very little research has been carried out into these risks and how many patients are affected.

And it has also emerged that six of the 12 experts drawing up the guidelines have financial ties to drugs firms who make statins or similar pills.

But NICE said the pills have the potential to save thousands of lives over the years at a minimum cost to the health service as they are so cheap.

In a letter to the BMJ, Professor McPherson, who specialises in public health epidemiology, wrote: 'Recommending that five million more people take statins lifelong for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease without knowing enough about the side effects is foolhardy.

He said: 'The data on side effects need to be public and scrutinised by qualified independent assessors.

Professor McPherson said the only studies to look at the effectiveness of statins had been funded by manufacturers, so were therefore biased.

They may well overstate the drug's effectiveness while underplaying any risks.

Professor McPherson warned that the same tactics had been used by firms making HRT who had downplayed the risk of heart disease.

Similarly, manufacturers or the oral contraceptive pill had published work which had underestimated their link to blood clots.

Last week figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed prescriptions for statins had trebled in a decade with 58.1 million handed out last year.

The rise is partly due to an incentive scheme for GPs, the Quality and Outcomes Framework, whereby they earn extra money for prescribing statins for high risk patients.

Other experts say the benefits by far outweigh the risks including Professor George Davey Smith, clinical epidemiologist at Bristol University, who claims 'the jury is no longer out'.

Speaking earlier this month, he added: 'Trials have shown unequivocally that statins reduce coronary heart disease mortality and there are very low levels of severe side effects.

'We are not forcing these tablets down people's throats, we are giving people the evidence on which to make a decision.'

And Maureen Talbot, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'The prescription of cholesterol lowering medications has been increasing steadily for many years now.

'This reflects the efforts that have been made to better identify people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease through initiatives such as the NHS Health Checks programme.

'Statins are one of the most studied medicines available today. They have been proven to be safe and effective and are vital in helping reduce people's risk of heart attack and stroke.'