Studies see new risks for cholesterol drug niacin - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Studies see new risks for cholesterol drug niacin

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By MARILYNN MARCHIONE
AP Chief Medical Writer

New details from two studies reveal more side effects from niacin, a drug that many Americans take for cholesterol problems and general heart health. Some doctors say the drug now seems too risky for routine use.

Niacin is a type of B vitamin sold over the counter and in higher prescription doses. Some people take it in place of or in addition to statin medicines such as Lipitor for cholesterol problems.

The studies previously found that niacin did not prevent heart problems better than statins alone and carried more side effects. Details in this week's New England Journal of Medicine suggest that deaths, bleeding, infections, gastrointestinal and other problems were more common among niacin users.

Heart specialists say no one should stop taking any drug without talking with a doctor.

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