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More Bah Humbug on Statin Drugs

Most of you know by now that I feel rather strongly that treating elevated cholesterol levels with statin drugs to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke makes no sense at all. The results of three new randomized, controlled trials utilizing hundreds of thousands of subjects - PROSPER, ALLHAT-LLT and ASCOT-LLA - show just that and helps me to make my point.

"If cardiovascular serious adverse events are viewed in isolation, 71 primary prevention patients with cardiovascular risk factors have to be treated with a statin for 3 to 5 years to prevent one myocardial infarction or stroke."

I can't quite figure out the profit margin in this - maybe you can: If the sale of statins brought in over 19 BILLION dollars for Big Pharma last year, then what does it cost to save one person from a heart attack or stroke if 71 patients have to take a statin drug for 3 to 5 years to save one life? The mind boggles.

"This cardiovascular benefit is not reflected in two measures of overall health impact - total mortality and total serious adverse events. Therefore, statins have not been shown to provide an overall health benefit in primary prevention trials." (Therapeutic Letter, issue 48, April-June, 2003)

In a nutshell, these trials are screaming at us that statins are useless in saving lives. Read this from the distinguished journal, Circulation, 4/1/03: "Omega 3's (fish and flax oil) will provide a greater reduction in risk of all-cause and coronary heart disease mortality than any of the cholesterol lowering studies to date. This unprecedented reduction in all cause and CHD mortality was not associated with differences in total cholesterol levels."

First let's discuss the work "unprecedented": According to my 11 lb. Random House Dictionary, unprecedented means "never before known or experienced, unparalleled." This tells me that the ingestion of a bit of fish oil per day IS BETTER THAN statin drugs in all-cause mortality. Secondly, the above study also implies that you could have either a skyrocketing cholesterol level of 300 + or a well-behaved one of 200 or under and still have the same risk for heart disease and all-cause mortality if you take fish oil. Or, elevated cholesterol levels have absolutely NOTHING to do with heart disease or all-cause mortality. Over 80 of people with CHD have "normal" cholesterol levels. (Stay tuned: I will soon be talking about the importance of measuring LDL particle size and number. A great amount of large LDL particles does indeed seem to make a difference in the incidence of CHD.)

More from Circulation: "There was a 70% redution in deaths in those given 2 tablespoons of canola oil per day. In Omega 3's (alpha linolenic), this is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of flax oil, or cod liver oil per day." I would never suggest giving anyone canola oil since most canola oil is genetically modified, but the salient point here is how very little Omega 3's we need to reduce the possibility of heart disease by a whopping 70%!

Cholesterol is actully part of our immune system so it is bad to have very low cholesterol. My personal opinion is that it is bordering on malpractice to lower cholesterol levels to 150 and under as this increases our risk of cancer, autoimmune disorders and strokes, and according to the latest information does nothing to prevent heart disease.

Did you know that our lipid-loving brain is filled with cholesterol and that when we lower our livers production of cholesterol through a statin we lower the mind enhancing, free-radical fighting effects of brain cholesterol. Is this maybe why the senile dementias are on the rise?

Please read my views, listen to the news and if your M.D./Cardiologist wants to prescribe a statin, ask him or her for the actual studies which show that lowering cholesterol levels will decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke. Then make an informed decision.

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