Two Studies Call Niacin's Safety into Question

niacin side effects

Widely Used Heart Drug May be Too Dangerous

Hundreds of thousands of Americans take Niacin supplements every day to promote heart health, but the damage the drug appears to cause may not be worth its benefits.

The grim nature of niacin's side effects – including higher rates of bleeding, gastrointestinal problems, and bodily infection – aren't made any better by the studies' claims that the drug does not have the health benefits it was once thought to. The study claims that people who took both niacin and a statin were more likely to die of heart complications than those who used a statin alone. Diabetics who took niacin were also at higher risk to lose control of their blood sugar levels.

More than 700,000 prescriptions are still written for niacin every month. Doctors say the drug is still useful to people who cannot take statins or need to control triglycerides, but if patients can avoid it, they should. Lastly, the report encourages anyone taking heart medication to talk to their doctor before changing medicines or dosage.

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Source: "Taking niacin for the heart may pose serious health risks." CBS News. July 17, 2014.