Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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January 14, 2005

Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol: Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Cause Cancer?

Lipitor has been known to cause very painful and potentially fatal muscle wasting also known as rhabdomyolysis as detailed and confirmed by numerous personal comments on two previous articles on this site: Lipitor - The Human Cost and
Lipitor: Side Effects And Natural Remedy. This side effect is apparently so widespread that the use of painkillers has skyrocketed in the wake of increased statin drug use. Recently Crestor, another similar drug, has also been linked to the drug-induced muscle wasting disease. Some years ago, a similar drug, Baycol, was withdrawn because of just this type of side effect.

What may be new to many is that cholesterol lowering drugs also cause an increase in cancer incidence. Shane Ellison, M.Sc. reports that all cholesterol lowering drugs, both the early drugs known as fibrates (glofibrate, gemfibrozil) and the newer drugs known as statins (Lipitor, Pravachol, Zocor), cause cancer in rodents at doses equivalent to those used by people using the drugs to lower cholesterol. Human long-term studies on statins are few and those available were not designed to catch this type of effect.

This is all the more important considering some numbers. The reduction of mortality from heart disease obtained in statin trials is miniscule - only 1.1% - as opposed to a whooping 1500% increase in breast cancer among women taking Pravachol. So it would appear that the much touted benefits of statins may be eclipsed if not completely overpowered by attendant negative side effects.

Here is a copy of Shane's excellent overview:

- - -

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs and Cancer

By: Shane Ellison, M.Sc.
Copyright © 2005 All Rights Reserved

The use of cholesterol-lowering drugs for the prevention of heart disease may increase your chances of suffering from the pandemic killer known as cancer. Few doctors are aware of this real and present danger. 

Well-designed studies have shown the link between cholesterol-lowering drug use and cancer. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Thomas B. Newman MD, MPH and co-workers show that all cholesterol-lowering drugs, both the early drugs known as fibrates (glofibrate, gemfibrozil) and the newer drugs known as statins (Lipitor, Pravachol, Zocor), cause cancer in rodents at the equivalent doses used by man.[1] 

The extrapolation of evidence of cancer from rodent to human is very uncertain. This is the argument of those in favor of using cholesterol-lowering drugs. The argument would only be plausible if human studies also showed an increase in cancer rates. And in fact, that is what science is showing. 

Evidence from the cholesterol-lowering drug trial known as CARE (Cholesterol And Recurrent Events) showed that Pravachol (a cholesterol-lowering drug made by Bristol-Myers Squibb) reduced the chance of suffering from a heart attack by an absolute reduction rate of 1.1%. This miniscule benefit was accompanied by a 1500% increase in breast cancer among women taking Pravachol. An increase in cancer rates among Pravachol users was also shown in the drug trial known as PROSPER. (citation)

It is rare that cancer would show up in most other cholesterol-lowering drug trials. Drug company-funded studies for these drugs are conveniently short in nature, typically 5 years or less. It can take decades for cancer to develop. Therefore, cancer rarely shows up. In fact, even heavy smoking will not cause lung cancer within 5 years.[2] Yet it is a well-known fact that smoking leads to lung cancer. Therefore, as long as statin drug trials last only 5 years, this side effect will continue to fly below the radar. 

If cancer were to show up as a negative side effect, there is concern whether or not it would be reported. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has reported that of 164 statin drug trials reviewed, only 48 reported the number of participants with one or more negative side effects caused by the drug.[3]

As if in recognition of this, attempts have been made to warn the public. Dr. Gloria Troendle, deputy director for the Division of Metabolism and Endocrine Drug Products for the FDA, noted that the cholesterol-lowering drug gemfibrozil belonged to a class of drugs that has repeatedly been shown to increase death rates among users. Moreover, Dr. Troendle stated that she does not believe the FDA has ever approved a drug for long-term use that was as cancer causing at human doses as gemfibrozil. Elizabeth Barbehenn, PhD, concluded to the FDA, "fibrates must be considered as potential human carcinogens and their carcinogenic potential should be part of the risk benefit equation for evaluating gemfibrozil."

Historically, FDA advisors were reluctant to approve the cholesterol-lowering drugs. When asked to vote whether or not the cholesterol-lowering drug gemfibrozil should be approved for the prevention of heart disease, only 3 out of 9 members of the FDA advisory committee voted in favor of approval. Unfortunately, these votes are only "advisory" and the FDA decided to approve gemfibrozil for human consumption against the better judgment of the committee.   

One mechanism by which cholesterol-lowering drugs may cause cancer has been identified. Published in Nature Medicine, Dr. Michael Simons of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston shows that statin drugs mimic a substance known as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The biochemical VEGF promotes the growth of new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis. While angiogenesis may help the growth of arteries, the benefit is quickly negated by the potential for growth of cancer. The British Journal of Cancer reports that VEGF plays an important role in the spread of colorectal cancer. Further, for those who already have tumors, VEGF and compounds that mimic VEGF significantly diminishes that person's survival time.[4] [5]

Benefits associated with cholesterol-lowering drugs do not exceed risk. Looking at the "statin-drug trials", not a single cholesterol-lowering drug prevented all-cause death rates when compared to a placebo. In laymen terms, this means that none of these drugs prevented early death from heart disease.(citation)

USA Today reported that, "Statins have killed and injured more people than the government has acknowledged."[6] Oblivious to their dangers, medical doctors are calling cholesterol-lowering drugs the "new aspirin" and are even recommending that children be prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs.   

The medical community failed to protect the public from Vioxx. Now they are failing to protect them from the dangers of cholesterol-lowering drugs. 

Health and longevity was not meant to be risky, complicated or expensive. To attenuate the risk of using cholesterol-lowering drugs while preventing heart disease, the general public must utilize healthy lifestyle habits. Most notably, that would be the act of quitting sugar and artificial flavors while minimizing grain products from the diet. This will prove to be simple, effective and most affordable.

About the Author

Shane holds a Master's degree in organic chemistry and has first-hand industry experience with drug research, design and synthesis. He understands that Americans want and deserve education rather than prescriptions. His shocking e-book surrounding cholesterol-lowering drugs and HEART DISEASE can be downloaded for FREE as a pdf file at His life saving book Health Myths Exposed is available at

[1] Newman, Thomas B. et al. Carcinogenicity of Lipid-Lowering Drugs.  JAMA. January 3, 1996-Vol 275, No. 1.

[2] Ravnskov, Uffe. Statins as the new aspirin. Letters.  BMJ. 2002; 324:789 (30 March).

[3] Law, M.R. et al. Quantifying effect of statins on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, ischaemic heart disease, and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis.  BMJ. 2003 June 28; 326 (7404): 1423.

[4] Akagi K. et al. Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) expression in human colorectal cancer tissues.  Br J Cancer. 2000 Oct; 83 (7):887-91.

[5] Nature Medicine September, 2000;6:965-966, 1004-1010.

[6] Sternberg, Steve.  USA Today. 08/20/2001.

See also:

Cholesterol is NOT the Cause of Heart Disease article on Dr Mercola's site for more background on cholesterol


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Friday January 14 2005
updated on Monday January 29 2007

URL of this article:


Related Articles

and the Misguided War On Cholesterol is an incredible book (an update of an the earlier book LIPITOR, THIEF OF MEMORY, no longer available, now includes all statin side effects not just cognitive, hence a new a title and cover). A must read for anyone who is even remotely interested in how our sickness care, billed as health care, system works. Dr. Graveline, like many, obviously a very conscientious doctor,... [read more]
June 28, 2005 - Chris Gupta

Bad News About Statin Drugs
The following article form the "Center for Medical Consumers" summaries the real Cholesterol sham that is being imposed on the unsuspecting. I have highlighted the key points to assist all to get the gist of this issue and ramp up on these concerns. Naturally, pharma and their medical cronies will not discuss these openly due their funding dependencies. Chris Gupta ..."Dr. Ravnskov managed to push the envelope further by making... [read more]
November 07, 2003 - Chris Gupta

Statins May Scramble Memory
Adding to the long list of side effects of statin drugs, a charge was made by Dr. Golomb that statins may "hamper the brain's performance and trigger other serious problems." She is leading an independent clinical trial to find out what harm statins may be doing. CBS talks of "mind boggling effects" of the statin drugs and relates the story of Jim Matthews, who found himself reeling "struck by cognitive... [read more]
May 25, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Statins And Our Immune System
Further to LIPITOR, THIEF OF MEMORY Dr.Graveline has unraveled the impact of statins on the immune system. The implications of this are huge. This is a must read even though it is a bit technical for some (gets easier to understand as you read). His comments could just as easily be applied to many other drugs. "Tossing the statin sledgehammer into this system is perhaps quite comparable in effect to... [read more]
August 11, 2004 - Chris Gupta

WHO-US Adverse Reaction Reports For Statins - When Where What?
The number of people who have reported problems in the comments of just one post: "Bad News About Statin Drugs" let alone others, only gives a smattering of the extent of the problem. For only one side effect this month's JAMA says: "Conclusions Rhabdomyolysis risk was similar and low for monotherapy with atorvastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin; combined statin-fibrate use increased risk, especially in older patients with diabetes mellitus. Cerivastatin combined... [read more]
November 25, 2004 - Chris Gupta

Statin Drugs & Breast Cancer
Very interesting indeed... Although not surprising. Just like HRT that was purported to decrease Heart disease when in fact it did the opposite and then turned around and even increased breast Caner to boot. Of course there simply is no interest in safe alternative like the one described in my earlier post: "Vitamin C & Menopause". Chris Gupta RE: "Statin Drugs & Memory Loss": I also found this in relation... [read more]
December 06, 2003 - Chris Gupta




Readers' Comments

What about the restriction on drinking grapefruit juice while taking Zocor?

Posted by: Clarence on February 4, 2005 09:18 PM



I suppose everyone on medication better inform themselves about food/drug interactions and incompatibilities.

Since grapefruit juice definitely has a cleansing effect, it may interfere with several drugs. Drug companies should inform the people taking their products...

Posted by: Sepp on February 10, 2005 12:06 PM


I have opted not to take lipitor for many reasons,primarily your addition I have an active stomach(dueod)and arthritis...the thought of more pain is indeed alarming.

In addition to a cholesterol lowering diet...are there any natural remedies available...Many thanks.

Posted by: Ann Jones on February 10, 2005 03:38 PM


I have problems with speaking. Sometime I can't think of the words to say and I can not express my thoughts. I will be 74 and in good physical condition. I was taking Lipitor and a couple years ago I switched to pravacol and zeita. I father lived to 95 and my mother 85 both.
I will be investigate the side effects on my memory. I think that my memory loss might be a side effect of the medication.

Posted by: Robert A. Strano on April 22, 2005 03:20 AM


I was on Lipitor for a number of years and, after some research on my own, discontinued it against my doctor's wishes.
He was under the impression that it would help my heart. A newspaper article showed how wrong he was. I also stopped the Premarin.

I had to switch doctors (after 26 years with the same one) due to insurance changes.
(Lipitor caused me nightly leg cramps, causing me to lose sleep.)

In January, 2005, my new doctor switched me to Pravachol -- first about three months at 40 mg./day and then when my total cholesterol went up instead of down, she increased it to 80 mg/day to attempt to get the cholesterol down under 200. (It was 220-230).

Within about two months I had muscle and joint pains throughout my body and was extremely weak-- to weak to even get to the doctor's office until about three weeks later.

I spent most of my time on the couch, barely able to get to the kitchen for food.
The pain was severe. Aleve helped some.
I stopped the Pravachol on my own on May 27th and noticed a small improvement. It is now July 13, 2005. My arms and legs are still very weak and all my joints still hurt. My hands and fingers are swollen and sore and I am unable to close my hands fully. I have trouble walking. I can now drive my car, but I have difficulty getting in and out of it and my hands hurt to hold the steering wheel.
I live alone and I must drive to run errands and do food shopping. Those tasks are now a chore and I find them very tiring.

Needless to say, I find writing or printing very difficult. Luckily, I can type.

I am 78 years old and a competitive Masters swimmer and, until now, have been in excellent health.
I began swim competition when I was 60 years old.
The 2004 results showed that I was in the National Top Ten Masters swimmers in my age group in 18 events -- every event I swam. In May of this year,I wasn't feeling up to par but swam at our United States Masters National Championships in Ft. Lauderdale. Although my times were slower than usual, I medaled in the five events I entered. I also swam in two women's 75+ relays and we broke National records in both relays. In 2001, I was #10 in the world in one event.
I tell you all this to show
that before Pravachol, I was happy, active and in excellent health.

Since then, I have not been able to swim, do my morning yoga, work out on weight machines or go for my usual walks. I haven't been able to vacuum or iron clothing in months.
My doctor put me on a muscle relaxant, told me just to rest, take hot showers or hot tubs and sent me for eleven various blood tests.
Only one showed some inflamation in my body.
(I don't have the test names in front of me, so I won't go into that right now.)It did show that I do not have arthritis.

My doctor has not said that
Pravachol has caused all these health problems but I was so much better before the Pravachol.

My quality of life has changed dramatically and it's depressing to think this may be a permanent condition. How will the pharmaceutical companies get to know about these terrible side effects if the doctor doesn't admit them or report them? What can I do about it?? How can I report them on my own? To whom?

What natural meds can I take
to get better???

I need some helpful input from anyone out there.

Please send me some helpful hints and a great deal of encouragement.

Posted by: Edna B. Gordon on July 13, 2005 08:48 AM


Hi Edna,

thank you for commenting. There are some other articles on Lipitor, where many people have commented, and you might find that you are not alone in your plight. The articles are

Side Effects and Natural Remedy


The Human Cost

Most people who have commented have found that after discontinuing the drug, the situation with their pains got better, albeit slowly in some of the cases.

If you would like to report your case officially, start on this address:

Also, you should find a doctor (or a naturopath) who uses nutritional remedies over drugs in keeping you healthy. I know that may be difficult but it's well worth it. You can also search the internet ( or any other search engine) and "zero in" on what you want to know. All the information is available for the taking. You only have to look in the right places.

Posted by: Sepp on July 13, 2005 09:58 AM


my mother who has just turned 65 has been on lipitor for 2yrs or more on th 16th july my family notice she was acting out of character she was addmitted to hospital and know the doctors have found 2 tumors in her brain which means the cancer has came from some where esle in her body i would like to know if this could have been down to the lipitor tabs she has been taking, she was as fit as her granchildren which she looked after and always on the go and just in 1wk she has 2 brain tumors. if anyone out there can help me find out more or knows of if lipitor can cause cancer i would be greatful for their help. they have gave my mother 6 months to live now. NEED TO KNOW MORE.

Posted by: mary ann rae on July 22, 2005 10:27 AM


I have always had a gut feeling about the catastrophic results of all these lipid lowering drugs, even before I was affected on a personal level. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. It's a racket, all the money to be made from prescribing drugs when a person can alter their diet and take some flax seed oil, eat fish, take omega oils, vitamins E and C, use a little more olive oil, canola oil and sunflower oil, and a little less butter, cut the butter with the oil and get both, etc.

In April 2000, my aunt to whom I was closest growing up (she lived four houses down the street from mine), was diagnosed with liver cancer. Then we found out she had been on Zocor for three years. I did a great deal of research, and still believe that the Zocor was largely the culprit. By the time I saw her in September that year, she had been on chemotherapy and was a shell of the vibrant life she had been. By treating with chemotherapy, any chance at a living liver transplant was gone with the first treatment. I found that even in the PDR, which can be found in any public library or even on-line, if one has the patience to truly read for content, it states during the drug trials there were carcinogenic effects. It also tells of the binding action of the drug to the receptor cells in the liver, and that 90% of each and every dose never leaves the liver, yet they check blood levels to detect liver abnormalities. I would think only a needle biopsy of the liver could truly tell whether or not it suffers toxicity of statins, because only 10% of each dose is ever excreted from the body. Logically with 90% of each dose binding forever to the liver, one should expect toxicity. I also wonder whether this serves to weaken the structure and system of the liver, which in and of itself is probably the most magnificent organ in the entire human body, working tirelessly to perform its many functions, which even now man has yet to be able to replicate.

As far as I was able to discover, no one could recall a time when my aunts liver studies were performed. Prescribing protocol base on the literature from drug manufacturers are that liver function studies be performed before beginning the medication, that they be performed again 5 weeks after starting the medication, and at 3 month intervals for the first year, and then 6 month intervals after that. I believe my aunt was not checked according to protocol, and by the time the cancer was discovered, it was because the tumors in the liver were pressing on the back and she thought it was her back. My aunt died in early December 2000, an unnecessary and premature death.

It is a patient's responsibility to research a medication being prescribed before filling the prescription. Most doctors have become careless about prescribing medication, relying solely on the information (or lack of) provided by the drug reps. I have always researched my medications.

I also found it interesting how all these drugs got fast tracked through the FDA. Remember Rezulin? Do a little research on Rezulin to find out how the drug companies lobby the FDA, and how doctors on the advisory panel get fired for resisting. There is a doctor who heads up the UCLA Liver Transplant Program who was on the advisory panel during that time, first name begins with a K. It was shown that there had been trials before FDA approving Rezulin that showed that it was dangerous to the liver.

Incidentally, the doctors were still having my aunt take her Zocor and also taking Tylenol, I guess because they knew they had already ruined her liver and any chance for life. And because it would serve any useful purpose, I never could tell my aunt that it was her doctor's fault, that he should have checked her liver function studies, that he should have taken her off Zocor, that she should not have been taking Tylenol.

The cancer was metastatic and they said they could not find the primary. I felt that by prescribing the Zocor and suppressing the liver's natural function to make cholesterol, that it weakened the liver and made it a primary target for any cancer in the body looking for a new place of residence. Doctors fail to tell patients that cholesterol is the foundation of all cell structure in the body. In fact, they continue to prescribe it for women in their childbearing years, which is against medical literature.

Please encourage all your readers to take a more active role in their own healthcare and to have a physician who is able to work with them to do it. If you thought your attorney was working against you, would you continue to go back and pay him? A doctor is an advisor in healthcare, the patient makes the decision.

Posted by: Diane Christiano on August 12, 2005 04:16 AM


My mother died in 2001 after a vibrant life and then a couple of years of lipitor. Nothing we could do to prevent once affected. As the advertisements say "Lipitor Did It."

Posted by: gordon on August 23, 2005 04:50 AM


My 74 year old mother was diagnosed with liver cancer one month ago. No cancer has ever been recorded in our family. I remember hearing a report on our Denver local tv news around the same time, two years ago, when she started the medicine. Is anything being done? Has anyone else noticed this link? Help! Devin in Denver;
4654 flower street, Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80033.

Posted by: devin in denver on July 21, 2006 06:20 AM


I have been diagnosed with multiple, liver, kidney, lung and patroid gland cancer after taking Lipitor from 1998 until current, November 2006. I had breast cancer in 1972 and no signs of any reoccurance until now. No doctor ever warned me of the danger of cancer. I did have every other side effect of Lipitor. The public needs to have an awakening.

Posted by: Lila Trudel on November 26, 2006 11:05 AM


I am 54 years old and took lipitor for several years. I also took zoloft for the last year with it until I was diagnosed with cholangio carcinoma of the liver, a very rare and untreatable cancer. I don't know if it is related but I would sure like to report it to someone.

Posted by: Roberta on January 12, 2008 04:58 AM


I had taken Zocor for about 5 years, begin having muscle pain and weakness in the upper pair of my body. The Dr. took me off of Zocor for a couple of weeks. then replace it with Zetia.

Posted by: fRANK r. kENNEDY on January 14, 2008 08:14 PM


About ten years ago, I started taking Lipitor because my cholesterol was around 218. While this number is not outrageous, my father died at the age of 53 after his third heart attack. After taking Lipitor for a year or so, I developed a mild case of lower back pain. I didn't link the pain to the Lipitor to the back pain at first, but after remembering the warnings, I stopped taking Lipitor. Eight years later, I have been diagnosed with carcinoid tumors. The original tumor was in the large intestine near the ileal. Because I never had any debillitating symptoms, the cancer went undiagnosed until it had metastasized to my liver and many lymph nodes. Not being a scientist, I cannot prove that Lipitor is the cause of this cancer. However, this is a pretty rare form of cancer and I have no family history. Couple this with the back pain and . . .

The incidence of Carcinoid tumors has increased greatly in recent years. And while this may be due to better diagnosis, I wonder if anyone has studied a possible link between statins and this type of tumor . . . .

Posted by: Rick on January 30, 2008 10:43 PM


I'd like to know if anyone knows about side effects of lipitor in the elderly.
My Aunt was put on lipitor 2 years ago. She was 83 then and healthy as a horse, walked an hour every morning and was very active. Slowly things began to happen from backaches to leg pains, restless sleep. Then flu like symptons and shingles for 3 months. It was like something hit her immune system. She just wasn't herself. Then 3 months ago she couldn't breath and went to the Doctor who treated her for pneumonia. It didn't go away and she was then diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I honestly believe the lipitor brought all this on. I noticed her decline a couple months after she started taking it. I tryed to get the Doctor to take her off lipitor but he swore by it. She wouldn't stop without his approval. Her total cholesterol before starting lipitor was 213. I still cannot understand why any Doctor would put an 83 year old healthy women on a drug that was not needed. My Aunt will not be with us much longer. I hope people read this and keep their elderly loved ones off these drugs.
There is not much evidence that these drugs help people over 70 who have no previous heart problems. And there is a 25 increase of cancer in the elderly who take these drugs. Please warn your loved ones.

Posted by: TD on July 4, 2008 07:44 AM


TD, follow the two links at the beginning of this article: Lipitor - The Human Cost and Lipitor: Side Effects And Natural Remedy. You will see comments by others who describe the side effects they had. Perhaps you will then be able to talk to the doctor and change her ideas about the drug.

Posted by: Sepp on September 24, 2008 04:02 PM


my husband has no feelings in his feet and legs nad now has low vit b12 which has left him with pern anemia because ibelieve came about by taking lipitor

Posted by: scoott on April 20, 2010 01:17 PM


My father in law just died in October of 2010 of pancreatic cancer. We believe it was caused from years of taking Lipitor. He was diagnosed 4 weeks before he died and had NO pre-existing conditions that are known to be linked with pancreatic cancer (no family history, non-smoker, didn't drink, etc.)

Posted by: Melissa on January 27, 2011 01:26 PM


is it safe to use Lipitor if you have had liver cancer

Posted by: John Kendall on July 29, 2011 09:13 PM


John, that is a question you must either ask your medical advisor (doctor) or do some research yourself to find the answer. Can't really help you with that.

Posted by: Sepp on July 30, 2011 03:56 AM


My mother died at age 94 she was healthy too she was on lipitor for a long time she died of pancreatic cancer.
My husband who was on lipitor has pancreatic cancer and is fighting for his life I wonder how many doctors prescrib lipitor to their loved ones would you rather die of cancer or a heart attack I would take the heart attact after seeing what my husband is going through I think we should design t shirts that say down with lipitor I have high cholesterol and I told my Dr no thanks I am 60 years old.If I can stop one person from the suffering my husband is going through with my article I will be happy I do not have cancer.

Posted by: Barbara Stazko on January 6, 2013 01:43 PM


My 62 year old husband died of Pancreatic Cancer in December of 2011. He was diagnosed a mere 5 weeks before his death. My contention is that he was another fatal statistic by many years use of Cholesterol lowering drugs. I also believe there is a link between the increase of Diabetes as it relates to Statin drugs.

Posted by: Ginny Rude on February 20, 2013 11:44 AM


I have been taken zorcore for 2yrs I sometime experience chest pains on my left side I have ask the Dr. About that and the question swept under the rug, I had to become my own affivacte and stop taking the pill, havent had chest pains since

Posted by: staci on September 18, 2014 06:29 PM


My husband had become very health conscious and lost some weight, exercised an hour each day, besides doing various physical labor jobs around the house. His cholesterol had been checked before that and, while not terribly elevated, he decided to go on the statins to lower it. Despite the fact that his high cholesterol became low, he stayed on the statins for several years, believing that they were protecting his heart, and then developed pancreatic cancer, and died 10 months later. I would like to know if others have developed PC while taking statins.

Posted by: Jolene on August 10, 2015 05:15 PM


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