skip to Main Content

Statins as a free pass: Body mass index and other cardiovascular risk factors among lipid-lowering medication users and nonusers in the California Men’s Health Study

To lower risk from cardiovascular disease (CVD), national guidelines recommend lifestyle changes followed by use of lipid-lowering medications when appropriate. Previous studies have questioned whether individuals taking these medications are less likely to modify their dietary intake and physical activity, resulting in increased body mass index (BMI). We assessed BMI and CVD clinical risk factors over time between lipid-lowering medication users and nonusers in a diverse cohort of middle-aged and older men. The cohort consisted of 63,357 men who enrolled in the California Men’s Health Study between 2002 and 2003 and were not taking lipid-lowering medications at baseline. Lipid-lowering medication use was determined over twelve years of follow-up. BMI and other CVD risk factors were assessed with longitudinal linear mixed effect models adjusting for possible confounders. Overall, lipid-lowering medication users had higher BMI than nonusers (p < .0001); however, there was a decrease over time for both groups (p < .0001). Total cholesterol, LDL-C, and triglycerides decreased for users and nonusers (p < .0001). While HDL-C was higher for nonusers (p < .05), over time this measure increased in both groups (p < .0001). We found no evidence of increases in BMI after initiation of lipid-lowering medication in this cohort. Instead, BMI decreased and several cholesterol-related CVD risk factors improved for lipid-lowering medication users and nonusers. This suggests that men placed on lipid-lowering medications do not view them as a panacea for their increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Instead, they appear to perceive them as one component of a multi-pronged strategy including lifestyle and nutrition as suggested by current guidelines.

Authors: Sidell MA; Ghai NR; Reynolds K; Jacobsen SJ; Scott R; Van Den Eeden S; Caan B; Quinn VP

Prev Med. 2019 12;129:105822. Epub 2019-08-27.

PubMed abstract

Explore all studies and publications

Back To Top