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How do statin drugs affect weight gain?

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Quick Answer

On average, statin users have higher body mass indices and gain more weight than people who do not use statins, according to Enrique Rivero for UCLA Newsroom. A UCLA study found that statin users gain an average of 6.6 to 11 pounds, notes Consumer Reports.

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A 2014 study found that patients who took statins between 2009 to 2010 ate 9.6 percent more calories and 14.4 percent more fat than statin users in 1999 to 2000, explains Rivero. The fat and calorie consumption of people who do not use statins did not change during the same time period. Researchers believe that people who take statins may think their prescription medication takes the place of diet modifications, which leads to weight gain.

Some statin users also report muscle pain and weakness as a side effect, notes Mayo Clinic. For some, the side effect is mild, while other people report that muscle pain makes it difficult to walk or complete other physical tasks. An inability to exercise could also contribute to weight gain, states Consumer Reports. Experts differ when estimating how many people experience muscle pain; some believe 5 to 10 percent experience pain or weakness, while others estimate the number at approximately 33 percent. However, doctors may reduce statin-caused muscle pain by lowering the dosage or switching to a different statin.

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