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High-dose niacin can cause stomach upset and make your skin flush or itch. More importantly, niacin can increase your risk of:
In the past, it was thought that HDL levels would increase even more if niacin was added to cholesterol medications called statins, such as atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatin (Zocor). But recent studies indicate that niacin provides little additional benefit when compared with statins alone.
Most doctors no longer recommend niacin for first-line cholesterol control — except for people who can't tolerate statins. In those people, the increase in HDL may outweigh the risk of potentially serious side effects.
Lifestyle changes also are helpful in boosting HDL:
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