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In 1995, researchers from Scotland reported that a daily dose of pravastatin could help prevent coronary heart disease (CHD) in middle aged men with hypercholesterolaemia. The original trial lasted five years, but the researchers continued to track the men for another 10. The benefits persisted. In the 10 years since the trial ended, men originally assigned to pravastatin were still significantly less likely to die from coronary heart disease or have a non-fatal heart attack than men originally assigned to a placebo (8.6% v 10.3%; hazard ratio 0.82, 95% CI 0.69 to 0.96)0.96).
Significantly more men in the pravastatin group took a statin in the period after the trial (38.7% v 35.2% at 5 years, P<0.001), but this small difference is unlikely to explain the final result, say the authors.
In an analysis covering the 15 years from the start of the original trial, men who took pravastatin for five years were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease (7.6% v 9.0%; 0.81, 0.68 to 0.96) or anything else (18.7 v 20.5%; 0.88, 0.79 to 0.99) than controls. The researchers found no evidence of a link between statins and cancer. The suggestion of a link with prostate cancer could have been a chance finding—it disappeared when the researchers corrected their analysis for multiple statistical tests.