CHOLESTEROL-lowering statins have almost no side effects, with patients experiencing fewer adverse symptoms than when taking a "dummy" drug, researchers found.

Scientists examining the results of 29 trials involving more than 80,000 people found that only a small minority of side effects are attributable to statins.

Patients were found to have more serious adverse effects from placebos.

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As many as seven million people in the UK take statins to help lower cholesterol and combat heart disease.

The NHS says minor side effects of taking the drugs include an upset stomach, headache or insomnia. More serious side effects are rare but include kidney failure.

The researchers, from Imperial College London's National Heart and Lung Institute, say that of the side effects assessed - which included nausea, kidney disorder, muscular disease and breakdown, insomnia, fatigue and gastrointestinal disturbance - only the risk of diabetes was found to be slightly raised by the drugs.

The authors of the report are calling on drug regulators to provide clear evidence to patients about side effects.

The NHS says statins save 7000 lives a year in the UK.