Statins have been found to reduce the risk of pancreatitis in people with raised blood fat levels.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow made the discovery after analysing 28 clinical trials in which 190,000 patients took part.
The cholesterol-lowering drugs, which are taken by one in three adults over the age of 45 in the UK, were previously thought to be a risk factor for pancreatitis, but scientists at the Institute for Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences found that they are actually an effective method of reducing the likelihood of the condition developing.
However, they also discovered that fibrates, drugs often given to patients with modestly raised blood fat levels to reduce the risk of pancreatitis, may actually make them more likely to develop the potentially fatal condition, possibly due to the increased risk of developing gallstones.
Dr David Preiss, senior clinical lecturer fellow, said: “Our research challenges the belief that fibrates are a good option for people with moderately raised blood fat levels.
“Statins appear to be a better option, not only because they reduce the risk of heart attacks but also because they may reduce pancreatitis risk. These results are of great importance when you consider the number of people taking these medications.”
The research is published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.