The satirical songster Alan Sherman once crooned, "Somewhere, over the rainbow/ Way up tall/ There's a land where they've never/ heard of cholesterol."
That's nowhere in the 50 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says around 80 million Americans would benefit from taking cholesterol-lowering medicine, but only 43 million do.
The heart-protecting, risk-reducing benefits of statins — the most-often prescribed medications for elevated LDL cholesterol — are proven. According to a 2014 meta-analysis of 20 years' worth of published research, the cardiovascular benefits are huge.
But a growing number of studies shows statins do more than protect you from heart attack or stroke.
• Several studies indicate they decrease your risk for dementia by protecting the health of blood vessels in the brain and helping prevent amyloid protein accumulation, which characterizes Alzheimer's.
• They may reduce your risk for cancer, according to a new study that looked at a statin's impact on 367,000 people who had a particular cancer-related gene variant. Other studies show statins may reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer.
• Statins may fight infection. A 2009 meta-analysis found people on statins were 43% less likely to contract infections and 45% more likely to respond to treatment than people not taking statins. Doctors now suggest statins may help fight off COVID-19.
There’s no need to debate whether you should take or stay on a prescribed statin. (Only 55% of people stick with them past six months.) That medication may protect your heart, brain, and a whole lot more from health problems.