Although many physicians have prescribed niacin, or vitamin B3, to treat
high cholesterol levels, a recent study shows the compound may cause more
problems than it prevents.
In its July 17 issue, the New England Journal of Medicine details a major
clinical trial scientists conducted to explore the benefits of niacin
in patients with hardened arteries. Researchers found it did slightly
raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol in subjects but presented no
apparent cardiovascular benefits.
In the study, researchers at Oxford gave half of the 26,000 study participants
a pill composed of niacin and laropiprant, while providing the other half
with a placebo.
According to Jane Armitage, senior author of the study and professor of
clinical trials and epidemiology at Oxford, niacin intake also heightened
the risk of dangerous side effects, such as increased blood sugar in diabetics,
higher numbers of new diabetes diagnoses, and a proliferation of skin
problems, gout, infections, diarrhea, excess bleeding and liver problems.
These side effects led to several hospitalizations.
More notably, 9 percent more patients died when taking niacin compared
to the control group. Although researchers note this percentage is not
statistically significant, it represents a “deal breaker”
to Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, who penned the editorial accompanying the study.
Researchers concluded niacin use is unlikely to create the effects for
which doctors have prescribed it, such as increasing HDL cholesterol and
reducing stroke and heart attack. They recommend any individuals currently
taking niacin contact their physicians to discuss switching to statins,
which have proven safer and more effective.
Constant discoveries in the medical field often uncover complications and
dangers presented by commonly-prescribed medications. Although medical
professionals do their best to provide the best care based on the information
available to them, they must be held accountable when their recommendations
lead to negative effects in their patients.
If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of an inappropriately prescribed
medication, contact a DC medical malpractice attorney today to discuss
Have you talked with your doctor regarding the safety of your medications?