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Statins are leaving women exhausted, breast cancer recurrence stats, and how poor teeth brushing increases cancer death risk

Statins have been credited with vast improvements in heart health with millions taking the drugs to prevent heart attacks and strokes. But the Daily Mail warns the cholesterol-busting drugs may be causing fatigue, particularly in women.

A US study of more than 1,000 adults – a third of which were women – given 40mg pravastatin, 20mg simvastatin or placebo found statins were associated with worsening energy levels or fatigue on exertion. The Archives of Internal Medicine paper also reports the effect seems stronger with simvastatin and in women who were more likely to report dipping energy levels. ‘Side-effects of statins generally rise with increasing dose, and these doses were modest by current standards. Yet occurrence of this problem was not rare, even at these doses, and particularly in women,’ said study leader Professor Beatrice Golomb.

Many of the papers, including the Daily Telegraph warn that not brushing your teeth properly increases the risk of dying early from cancer. The caution comes from a 24-year Swedish study of 1,390 people assessing lifestyle factors including measures of oral hygiene. By the end of the study 58 adults had died – 35 of those from cancer. Those that died from cancer had more dental plaque. Writing in BMJ Open, the researchers said: “Our study hypothesis was confirmed by the finding that poor [mouth] hygiene, as reflected in the amount of dental plaque, was associated with increased cancer mortality. Further studies are required to determine whether there is any causal element in the observed association.”

A study funded by Macmillan Cancer Support has hit the headlines today for finding that almost one in four women with breast cancer will have recurrence within 10 years. The Guardian is among the papers that reports the analysis of 1,000 patients diagnosed in Leeds who found the disease returned in 22.6% of patients. Macmillan has called for better care and support for those with recurrent breast cancer. But Professor Peter Johnson from Cancer Research UK said the figures were crude and not helpful to individual women for whom the chance of cancer returning is dependent on several factors. ‘In fact, for many women the chance of cancer coming back is much lower than one in five,’ he added.