Millions of Americans suffer from high cholesterol. This condition puts them at risk for cardiovascular disease. According to the Harvard Medical School's Family Health Guide, "Statins are the safest and best tolerated of all cholesterol-lowering medications." The six statin drugs that control high cholesterol are the highest selling prescription drugs in the United States.The statin drugs are: atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), lovastatin (Mevacor), fluvastatin (Lescol), rosuvastatin calcium (Crestor) and pravastatin (Pravachol).
Lovastatin and Mevastatin
Lovastatin, which is marketed as Mevacor, Altocor and Altoprev, is one of the safest statins. It is not synthetic as are some of the other statins, rather it is a naturally occurring compound which is derived from fermentation. Its active ingredient is found in red yeast rice and oyster mushrooms. Mevastatin is another compound that occurs naturally and also is found in red yeast rice. So it too can be considered among the safest statin medications.
Other Fermented Statins
The other statins, which come from a fermentation source and are therefore considered by some to be safer than synthetic statins, include pravastatin, which is marketed as Pravachol, Selektine and Lipostat. It is a fermented product of a bacterium called Nocardia autotrophica. Another fermentation-based statin is simvastatin, marketed as Zocor or Lipex. Although simvastatin is synthetically derived, it comes from a fermentation product of Aspergillus terreus, a microfungus (mold) often used for industrial purposes.
The Safety of Statins
Statins are currently being used by about 12 million people in the United States to lower their cholesterol. And many more take them worldwide as well. The medical community considers statins a safe drug, which has been endorsed by reputable organizations such as the American Heart Association, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the American College of Cardiology. Side effects can include liver enzyme elevation and abnormalities and muscle disorders; these are quite rare.
Statins as Lifesavers
Statins have saved many lives. Lowering cholesterol to acceptable levels helps millions of people guard against cardiovascular disease. Statins have been on the market for more than 20 years, and they are routinely prescribed by doctors to control elevated cholesterol levels. Researchers do not yet know what the effects of statin use beyond 20 years might reveal. In the meantime, the considerable benefits of taking statins have been shown to greatly outweigh the small risk involved.