New York, New York -
(NBC News) Millions of Americans have taken Niacin for decades to control their cholesterol, but there is growing evidence that the popular pill may do more harm than good.
Niacin is prescribed because it has been thought to boost levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol, with doctors targeting a specific HDL number.
Now cardiologists are reversing course on treatment.
"Just looking at a number is not as good as looking at the whole patient, understanding their risk and using our best evidence-based treatments," said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
A large study of more than 25,000 heart disease patients shows that when paired with a cholesterol-lowering statin, Niacin does nothing to reduce heart attacks and strokes.
More of a worry to patients is that it may be linked to troubling health problems like infections, diabetes complications and early death.
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