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Statins found to reduce risk of bacterial infections

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Elevated cholesterol test results may put individuals at risk of a range of health problems. However, there may be some benefits that come along with the condition. A new study from University of California researchers shows that statin medications, which are commonly used to lower cholesterol, may also reduce the risk of certain bacterial infections.

The findings may have broad implications. Statins are the world's most widely prescribed medications. There are currently more than 30 million Americans taking the medications. Any immune health benefit from statins could benefit a significant number of people.

Researchers said that statins help fight off bacterial infections by supercharging phagocytes, a type of white blood cell that destroys invading bacteria before it has a chance to reproduce and spread throughout the body. In particular, their study showed that immune cells became particularly effective at fighting off pneumonia and sepsis.

"We found these drugs fundamentally alter how white blood cells behave upon encountering bacteria," said Victor Nizet, who led the study. "In our studies with staph bacteria, the net effect of statin treatment was to improve bacterial killing and extracellular trap formation.

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