| Updated at: 0950 PST, Wednesday, November 23, 2011|
PARIS: Statins safely reduce the risk of cardiovascular illness even years after treatment is stopped, according to a probe into the popular cholesterol-busters published on Wednesday.
Statins work by blocking a liver enzyme that makes fatty molecules which line arterial walls and boost the danger of heart disease and strokes.
With worldwide annual sales of more than 20 billion dollars, the drugs have been dubbed "the aspirin of the 21st century" because of their benefit and wide use.
But lingering questions persist about their long-term safety for the heart, liver and cancer risk.
Researchers at the Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group in Oxford looked at 20,536 patients at risk of cardiovascular disease who were randomly allocated 40mg daily of simvastatins or a dummy look-alike over more than five years.
During this period, those who took the statins saw a reduction in "bad" LDL cholesterol and a 23-percent reduction in episodes of vascular ill-health compared to the placebo group. (AFP)