As many as 7 million people in the UK use statins regularly to reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Earlier this year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence called for their use to be extensively widened, according to digitaljournal.com.

The recommendation could see another 5 million people begin taking statins, in addition to the millions that already do so. But a group of leading academics and doctors said the idea should be scrapped.

The group expressed concern that administering medication to millions of "healthy" people, may have serious adverse effects. The experts said that advice issued to the institute had been heavily industry-sponsored and had underestimated the side effects that statins can cause.

Statins work by restricting the production of low-density lipo-protein cholesterol in the liver. The risk factor is calculated by age, weight and whether a patient smokes and the advice recommends giving statins to even those on a 10 percent risk rate.