In humans, the intestines carry a microbial flora that consists of trillions of bacterial, viruses, and fungi, producing several microbial elements that affect the immune system, metabolism, and other systems.

Any imbalance in the intestinal flora could give rise to chronic medical conditions, including obesity, IBD, diabetes, depression, autism, and even schizophrenia. In addition, the microbial gut flora is affected when you follow an unhealthy diet or use certain medications, such as antacids or antibiotics, which can disrupt the intestinal flora.

Now, a new study, published in the journal Nature, has explored gut bacteria in nearly 900 people from Germany, Denmark, and France.

Researchers define a cluster of unhealthy bacteria known as Bact2 enterotype that is found in 4 percent of lean and overweight people but in 18 percent of obese people who did not use statins, a group of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

However, the prevalence of Bact2 enterotype in obese individuals who were treated with statins was significantly lower than in those who were not treated with statins.

Statins are commonly prescribed to people who have high blood cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia. The goal is to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke. Worldwide, more than 200 million people are prescribed statins.

Apart from their cholesterol-lowering effects, statins also tend to pacify patients’ systemic inflammation levels, which could be related to gut microbiota disruption.

The study findings suggest that statins could potentially control the disrupted intestinal bacterial flora and inflammation in obese people.

Previous studies in animals have found an impact of statins on bacterial growth, which might benefit good bacteria and underlie the anti-inflammatory effects of statin therapy. The researchers said more human trials are required to understand whether statins mediate some of their anti-inflammatory effects by improving the Bact2 enterotype of gut microbiota.