Statin side effect could be due to the “nocebo” effect

A generic pack of statins with a stethoscope. A controversial anti cholesterol medication.All logos removed.

People who are worried about statins because of possible side effects may experience what’s called the “nocebo effect” when they try taking the drugs. This is the opposite of the placebo effect; with the nocebo effect, people who have negative expectations about medicine or a treatment experience harmful symptoms they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Researchers recruited 60 people, average age 66, who had previously stopped statins after two weeks because of side effects. For one month each, they took 20 milligrams of atorvastatin (Lipitor), a placebo, or no pill. They then continued this monthly rotation for a year without knowing which pill was which.

The participants recorded their daily symptoms. Symptom scores ranged from zero (no symptoms) to 100 (extremely severe). People whose symptoms became too intense could discontinue the pill for that month. After a year, the researchers found that 90% of the symptoms people recorded when taking statins were also present when they took the placebo.

Once the group was shown these results and saw their nocebo response, half felt confident to restart statins and were able to tolerate them. This suggests that many people who have stopped taking a statin due to side effects might have been experiencing the “nocebo effect” and be able to resume statin treatment. The results were published Nov. 15, 2020, in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Acts 4:18-31 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”     

2 Chronicles 25:19 “You said, ‘Behold, you have defeated Edom.’ And your heart has become proud in boasting. Now stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, would fall and Judah with you?”

1 Samuel 2:3 “Boast no more so very proudly, Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the LORD is a God of knowledge, And with Him actions are weighed.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.

Micah 2:3 Therefore thus says the LORD, “Behold, I am planning against this family a calamity From which you cannot remove your necks; And you will not walk haughtily, For it will be an evil time.

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