Statins May Lower Aggression in Men But Raise It in Women
While statins are recognized as an effective treatment for lowering cholesterol and heart disease risk, they also can raise aggression in older women while reducing it in younger men, according to a new study at the University of California, San Diego.
Researchers randomly assigned more than 1,000 men and postmenopausal women to receive either statin therapy (simvastatin or pravastatin), or a placebo for six months. The researchers didn’t know which subjects were received the statins and which were given the placebo.
Next, they tracked aggression levels by measuring frequency of hostile acts towards themselves, objects and other people in the week prior to treatment. The scientists also measured other factors associated with aggression, such as testosterone levels and sleep quality.
Their findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that compared with those who received the placebo, women treated with statins experienced increased aggression, particularly those age 45 and older who displayed lower levels of aggression at the beginning of the study.
In men, however, the researchers identified no overall increase in aggression among those treated with statins compared with those who received the placebo. In fact, they found an overall reduction in aggression for statin-treated men–particularly younger men who had higher baseline aggression levels.
The team concluded that statins affect people differently, but that they can affect testosterone levels and sleep quality, and that this can influence aggressiveness.