One of the most distressing things about practicing medicine these days is the blind faith that most people, doctors and patients, have in cholesterol pills like Lipitor, Crestor, Vytorin, and Zocor, just to name a few of the most popular. This faith comes not from gullibility, but from carefully crafted drug company misdirection. There’s no question statins reduce your LDL levels. The question is, do we really need to reduce your LDL to 100 or less?
Sean Croxton invited me onto his show yesterday to clear up this confusion over the value of statins and shed some light on their real potential for harm.
Few realize that statins work differently than other drugs physicians prescribe for long-term use. Most drugs just block a receptor. Statins block a metabolic pathway, and this means they can alter every cell in your body in one way or another. What exactly they will do within a given tissue in a given person is unpredictable. This unpredictability makes tracking the connection between starting the pill and developing the problem almost impossible. Add to that the fact that some of the insidious effects are slow enough to be misattributed to age-related problems.
The worst part is, these harmful effects may be permanent.
Side effect include:
Diabetes: A 2012 study showed the risk was 71% for those on a cholesterol pill, verus 29% on placebo. Diabetes doubles your risk of having a heart attack. Worse… (see next)
Memory Loss: Renown neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter warns us that even slight elevations of blood sugar threaten brain health. Not to mention that your brain is 15% cholesterol by weight.
Breast cancer: A 1995 study showed 12 women on a statin developed breast cancer, versus 1 on placebo. Don’t think that sounds like much of an issue? The drug companies do. Ever since, women with prior breast cancer have been excluded from statin studies.
Heart failure: A doctor in Texas showed that coQ10 supplementation can prevent Statin-Induced-Cardiomyopathy (Cardiomyopathy means heart failure)
Joint Problems: A 2013 JAMA article found that statin users had a higher incidence of “musculoskeletal injuries, including an increased risk of dislocations, strains, and sprains” compared to men and women with otherwise matched demographics (age, weight, etc).
Weight gain: In my experience, men and women who have been placed on high doses of statins often develop mild fatigue and joint aches. For some, it’s just enough to reduce how much they exercise and then the weight creeps up.
Statin studies may last 6 or 7 years, but the average amount of time any give person stays in the study is less. The side effects listed in the drug information sheet are from studies as short as 12 weeks.
So if you’ve been on a statin more than 6 or 7 years, you are in uncharted territory as far as medical science goes. We have very little data showing what happens to a person taking statins for a decade or longer.
The value of reducing your LDL is widely overestimated, and so, from where I sit, it appears that many people taking a statin to reduce their cholesterol should never have been given the prescription.
The good new is, with the internet finally shedding light on the mishandling of data and on all the players who benefit from deceiving us about the real cause of heart disease, I predict that within the next decade we will see physicians finally pulling back and the overprescribing curtailed. But you don’t need to wait a decade to educate yourself.
Start learning right here:
Read Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (chapter 7) to learn how traditional diets will Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk, Naturally!
Promising news from the BMJ: “An updated meta-analysis of linoleic acid intervention trials showed no evidence of cardiovascular benefit. These findings could have important implications for worldwide dietary advice to substitute omega 6 linoleic acid, or polyunsaturated fats in general, for saturated fats.”
One reader’s testimonial on the value of Chapter 8 of Deep Nutrition to help you give you the confidence to take control of your heart health.