Edinburgh, Scotland—Every day seems to bring new studies suggesting that statins offer possible benefits for everything from kidney function to slowing cancer progression.

Although that research might seem promising, current evidence doesn’t justify revising current statin-prescribing guidelines beyond cardiovascular disease (CVD) effects, according to an evidence review and meta-analysis published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

That conclusion was reached by a study team led by University of Edinburgh researchers who analyzed results from 256 studies that had investigated the benefits of taking statins for 278 non-CVD conditions.

Although the data indicated that statins can help prevent deaths from kidney disease, which is already recognized in clinical guidelines, no clear evidence was established that statins can help improve kidney function.

In addition, some studies had promising results showing that statins can help slow cancer progression, but further investigation is needed, the study authors emphasized, adding that more research is also required to determine how statins affect the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Alzheimer disease.

For the review, the study team focused on 278 unique non-CVD outcomes from 112 meta-analyses of observational studies and 144 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Researchers noted that although observational studies included no convincing class I evidence, two highly suggestive (class II) associations were reviewed—decreased cancer mortality in patients with cancer and decreased exacerbation in patients with COPD. As for the RCTs, one outcome—decreased all-cause mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease—was supported by high-quality evidence.

For adverse events, observational studies demonstrated suggestive evidence that statins increase the risk of diabetes and myopathy, although no statistically significant effects on myopathy, myalgia, or rhabdomyolysis in RCTs were found.

“The absence of convincing evidence of an association between statins and non-CVD outcomes supports leaving the current recommendations unchanged,” the study authors concluded.

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