The use of statins may potentially decrease aggression in men and increase aggression in women, when compared with placebo, according to results of the first randomized trial to analyze the effects of statins on behavior that was published online ahead of print July 1 in PLoS One. 


In the double-blind trial, lead author Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, randomly assigned more than 1,000 adult men and postmenopausal women to either a statin (simvastatin or pravastatin) or a placebo for six months. Aggression was measured using a weighted accounting of aggressive acts against others, self, or objects in the prior week. They found an increase in aggression in postmenopausal women, especially those older than 45 years. The researchers found there was a general decline in aggression among men in the study. However, the authors noted that three male participants taking statins had very large increases in aggression. 


The researchers also tracked testosterone levels and reports of sleep issues, as these factors have been found to affect aggression and have been associated with simvastatin. Larger decreases in testosterone in participants on simvastatin were associated with greater decreases in aggression, and greater increases in sleep problems on simvastatin were associated with greater increases in aggression.