Want to flip a coin on your health? Researchers assessing the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs found that they didn’t work for 51% of the 165,000 patients studied (statins have to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 40% after two years to be considered effective). We’ve reported previously about the many side effects and dangers of taking statins. We’ve also pointed out that conventional thinking supporting statins—lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol as a means of preventing cardiovascular disease—is outdated. With one in four Americans over the age of 40 taking a statin, there are a lot of people out there spending money on a dangerous drug that is not providing any benefit. Will doctors change their prescribing practices based on this information? It doesn’t seem so. Statins make tens of billions of dollars a year for the drug industry, and the market is growing. Statin use among adults over the age of 40 increased almost 80% between 2002 and 2013.
While cholesterol has been vilified as something that should be as low as possible to prevent heart disease, it's actually a crucial component for good health and too low a level can have serious repercussions for your health. Cholesterol is found not only in your bloodstream but also in every cell in your body, and is necessary for the production of cell membranes, virtually every steroid hormone, vitamin D and bile acids that help you digest fat. Cholesterol also plays an important role in the formation of memories and is vital for healthy neurological function. For example, low cholesterol levels have been shown to increase your risk of depression and suicide, in some cases rather dramatically. As noted by neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, a quarter of all the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain, where it performs the function of an antioxidant. A number of studies have demonstrated that, contrary to popular belief, higher cholesterol levels are associated with better brain health. According to senior research scientist Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., insufficient fat and cholesterol in your brain play a crucial role in the Alzheimer's disease process, detailed in her 2009 paper "APOE-4: The Clue to Why Low Fat Diet and Statins May Cause Alzheimer’s."
Cholesterol is found in nearly every cell in your body. This waxy substance is vital for optimal functioning of cell membranes, regulating protein pathways and supporting brain health, hormone levels and reducing your heart disease risk. Your body also uses cholesterol to manufacture vitamin D after being exposed to the sun. As Zoe Harcombe, Ph.D., has noted, "It is virtually impossible to explain how vital cholesterol is to the human body. If you had no cholesterol in your body you would be dead." The majority of the cholesterol in your body, approximately 80%, is manufactured in your liver, suggesting your body cannot survive without it. In the past decades cholesterol has been vilified as a primary culprit in heart disease. Merck brought the first statin drug, Lovastatin, aka Mevacor, to market in 1987. Since then, statins have gone on to become the biggest selling class of pharmaceutical compounds of all time, with annual sales in excess of $19 billion in 2017 and projected to reach $24.4 by 2022.6,7 A new study from Duke University Medical Center finds 26.5% of U.S. adults who fit the current criteria to use cholesterol-lowering drugs are not taking them. The study is suggesting this occurs since doctors do not offer the drugs to their patients or the patients express concern over the side effects. Senior study author Dr. Ann Marie Navar from the Duke Clinical Research Institute believes public perception of side effects is unrealistic. However, despite Navar's attempt to downplay the side effects of statin medications, the risks are well-documented and supported by scientific evidence, so the fears are well-founded.
A recent meta-analysis review study looked into the association of cholesterol-lowering statin drug use with herpes zoster or shingles outbreaks, and determined there was a strong association of higher risk of shingles for older people who take statin drugs. Herpes zoster, more commonly known as shingles, is a painful skin irritation marked by rows of small sores with tiny blisters. It often strikes people over 50 who have experienced chickenpox during childhood. It’s suspected that this occurs when one’s cellular immune system is lowered enough to allow activating the dormant varicella virus (chicken pox) remaining after an earlier recovery from it. What may appear at first as non-threatening small skin lesions can become painful and more debilitating than chickenpox. This reactivated, more virulent form of varicella virus can damage nerves enough to develop into postherpetic neuralgia, which rephrased in layperson's language is "after herpes came intense nerve pain." Acute and chronic peripheral nerve pain may exist in the areas where the shingles skin lesions are located. The consequences can be lethal.
Independently-sourced research challenges the idea that LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the "bad cholesterol," and causes heart disease. However, the theory that LDL is "bad" persists in the mainstream media and with Big Pharma, mainly because they would lose billions of dollars in drugs and treatments to admit the theory lacks merit. The hypothesis of saturated fat creating artery-clogging cholesterol as the source of heart disease should be considered dead and incapable of resuscitating, based on the scientific evidence. But one still sees and hears fearful statements about lowering cholesterol and avoiding heart disease, mostly on mainstream media but even all too often on internet alternative media sources. Current research is showing LDL is not dangerous and it’s not an accurate marker for pending heart disease.
Pharma Wants Every Senior on Statin Drugs as Corporate Media Seeks to Silence Doctors Exposing the Cholesterol Myth
Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are a $100 billion-a-year industry. Lipitor was, by far, the most profitable drug in the history of mankind among all pharmaceutical products, let alone being the most profitable cholesterol drug before its patent expired at the end of 2011. Sales to date from this one particular cholesterol-lowering statin drug have exceeded $140 billion. After Lipitor’s patent expired at the end of 2011, the FDA issued its first warnings against statin drugs, which include: liver injury, memory loss, diabetes, and muscle damage, among others. Thousands of lawsuits against the maker of Lipitor followed. As we have reported many times over the years here at Health Impact News, the cholesterol theory of heart disease is not well-supported by science at all. In fact, much of the science states that cholesterol is an important part of our health, and contrary to popular belief, those with the highest levels of cholesterol actually live longer than those with lower levels of cholesterol in their blood. However, with such a large segment of the American population moving into their senior years, the pharmaceutical industry's attempt to keep seniors on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs continues unabated, and the largely pharma-funded corporate media is doing their part to silence doctors and other researchers who criticize the failed cholesterol theory of heart disease. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, a Scottish doctor and the author of the book The Great Cholesterol Con, has had his entire Wikipedia entry deleted recently in an obvious attempt to silence him as a new study was just published to try and justify putting more seniors on statin drugs. Here are his comments on this "new" study.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in nearly every cell of your body and is essential to good health. It plays a role in hormone production, digestion and the manufacture of vitamin D following sun exposure, and helps protect your cell membranes. As noted by Zoe Harcombe, Ph.D., "It is virtually impossible to explain how vital cholesterol is to the human body. If you had no cholesterol in your body you would be dead." Cholesterol has long been vilified as a primary cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD), yet numerous studies refute this hypothesis, demonstrating that cholesterol has virtually nothing to do with heart disease — at least not in the way conventional medicine presents it. As noted by Harcombe, the notion that there is good and bad cholesterol is also wrong. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are not actually cholesterol; they're carriers and transporters of cholesterol, triglycerides (fat), phospholipids and proteins. "LDL would more accurately be called the carrier of fresh cholesterol and HDL would more accurately be called the carrier of recycled cholesterol," she says. What's more, dietary cholesterol has no impact on the cholesterol level in your blood, so how could dietary cholesterol pose a health risk?
For well over 30 years, every medical student has been taught that high cholesterol levels are responsible for causing heart disease—the number one killer in the US. And, the public has been similarly educated that eating a low-fat diet (having less cholesterol) is the best way to avoid becoming a cardiac patient. At my medical school graduation (nearly 30 years ago—oy vey!) the dean told us that we were trained with the latest medical information. He continued by stating that, unfortunately, over 50% of what was just taught to us was incorrect. He told us that it was our job to figure out what is fact and what is fiction. Perhaps my dean would be proud of me as I have dedicated my professional career to determining what is right and what is wrong with medicine. Now I can state, without equivalence, that the cholesterol=heart disease hypothesis is terribly wrong. Keep in mind, I came to that conclusion many years ago after studying the literature.
As American Heart Association Prepares to Revise Guidelines for Cholesterol, Harvard Doctor Speaks Out on Conflict of Interests
The American Heart Association (AHA) will soon be meeting in Chicago to set new guidelines for treating high cholesterol, the first big update since 2013. Medical doctors are not at all unified in their position on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, although pharmaceutical companies and their front groups, such as the AHA, would like the public to believe all doctors are in favor of lowering cholesterol via medication. Independent journalist Sharyl Attkisson recently covered the issue of the "Statin Wars" on her TV show, Full Measure. In the introduction to her show, Attkisson states: "Past (cholesterol) guidelines have said more and more of us should take cholesterol-lowering drugs called “statins” to prevent heart attacks and save lives. But the recommendations aren’t without controversy. And they raise a larger debate in medicine— over who’s paying the doctors and groups deciding what’s good for us." She interviewed three people with different perspectives on statin drugs.
Network of Cholesterol Skeptics Researchers: Abandon the LDL Cholesterol Theory of Heart Disease and Look at More Important Risk Factors
Dr. Malcom Kendrick is the author of the book The Great Cholesterol Con. He is the co-author of a recently published paper that looks at important risk factors related to cardiovascular disease, pointing out that looking at LDL cholesterol levels are not a good indicator of heart disease. Dr. Malcom Kendrick is part of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS). The lead author of this recently published paper is Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, author of Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You, and the leader of THINCS. We have featured both men's writings frequently here on Health Impact News over the years, as they expose the cholesterol myth and the statin scam. Referring to Dr. Ravnskov and THINCS, Dr. Kendrick wrote in a recent blog post: "As you may know I am a member of an organisation known as The International Network of Cholesterol Sceptics (THINCS). When I say this, people always laugh. I suppose it is better than people shouting and screaming and slapping you repeatedly. The man who set it up was Uffe Ravnskov – our glorious leader. He has done far better than me. His first book The Cholesterol Myths, was burnt, live on air, in a television studio in Finland. I am very jealous. Having your critics become so enraged, that the only thing they can think to do is burn your book, is a very great ‘sceptic’ honour. Although one must be slightly fearful that the mob doesn’t stop at burning your books." So if LDL cholesterol is not a contributing factor in heart disease, what is? This White Paper recently published in the journal Medical Hypotheses encourages researchers to abandon the LDL cholesterol theory of heart disease, and consider other, more important, risk factors.