One in three Americans aged 40 and over take a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, and nearly half of people over age 75 are on them, despite their risks, and the fact that “high” cholesterol is not always the enemy it’s made out to be. Statins have a long list of side effects, and may even lead to the very problem you’re trying to avoid — heart disease — as the drug inhibits both Coenzyme Q10 and vitamin K2. Statins also reduce squalene, which can raise your risk of immune system dysfunction. Now, the drug industry is rolling out yet another cholesterol-lowering medication that may turn out to be even worse than statins.
A recent study in Critical Care Medicine is titled, “Lipid Paradox in Acute Myocardial Infarction- The Association with 30-Day In-Hospital Mortality.” This study followed 724 hospitalized patients who suffered an acute heart attack (i.e., myocardial infarction). The scientists attempted to clarify the relationship between the lipid profiles and the 30-day mortality in patients who suffered a heart attack. The authors found that those with lower LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels had a significantly elevated mortality risk when compared to patients with higher LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Why would lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels be associated with a higher mortality rate? Fats from triglycerides are a major energy source and LDL-cholesterol is critical for cell membrane synthesis and is needed to fight infections. Adequate LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be critical for cell function and survival in the case of a heart attack—as well as in other conditions. Folks, we have been hoodwinked to believe that we must all take cholesterol-lowering medications in order to prevent and/or treat heart disease. People do not get heart disease because their cholesterol level is elevated. Remember, 50% of patients who suffer a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels.
Heart disease, as many of us know, is one of the leading causes of death in the US, killing about 610,000 people each year. Big Pharma—in the belief that cholesterol is the primary factor in heart disease—developed statin drugs that would lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The drugs, which have been accompanied by massive marketing campaigns, are huge moneymakers for the drug industry, to the tune of about $29 billion worth of sales in 2013. That’s the kind of outrageous money you make when you convince one in four Americans over the age of 45 to take statins. What the American Heart Association does not seem to understand is that cholesterol is vital to human health. We’ve noted in the past that cholesterol isn’t the ticking time bomb most people have been led to think—in fact, the real danger is that our cholesterol levels can get too low as we age! Even “bad” cholesterol is essential.
Four Japanese researchers published an analysis on cholesterol guidelines and statin drugs in the April 2015 edition of the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, the Scottish doctor who wrote "The Great Cholesterol Con" recently stated on his blog that he has read the entire 116 page review: "For many years I have told anyone who will listen that, if you have a high cholesterol level, you will live longer. Equally, if you have a low cholesterol level, you will die younger. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a fact. The older you become the more beneficial it is to have a high cholesterol level. This fact has become more difficult to demonstrate recently as so many people have been put on statins that the association between cholesterol levels and mortality has been twisted, bent and pumelled into the weirdest shapes imaginable. However, Japan, provides some very interesting data."
Another study has confirmed that statin drug use increases one's chance of developing diabetes. Statin drugs are the all-time leading prescription drugs sold in the U.S. and around the world, prescribed by doctors to lower people's cholesterol levels. It is estimated that one out of every 4 people in the United States over the age of 50 is currently taking statin drugs for cholesterol. This current study just published looked at 26,000 beneficiaries of Tricare, the military health system. They found that those taking statin drugs to control their cholesterol were 87 percent more likely to develop diabetes. The study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. This is just the latest study to link statin drugs to diabetes, especially in women. Studies published in 2014 caused over 2000 lawsuits to be filed against Pfizer, the maker of the best-selling drug of all-time, Lipitor.
My father was a cardiologist who started his practice in the 1970’s. In those days, the beauty and art of medicine were in the diagnosis of heart disease. They didn’t have many “tools” to treat patients. There were only a few pharmaceuticals and surgery was new on the scene. Fast forward to 2015. If you walk into a cardiology office you will walk out with a stack of prescriptions and orders for testing such as treadmills and ultrasounds. But what are the benefits?
Limitations for cholesterol will likely be removed from the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans; over consumption of dietary cholesterol is now cited as being of no concern. A recent review of studies investigating the link between dietary fat and causes of death concluded that recommendations to reduce the amount of fat we eat every day should never have been made. When fat was removed from processed foods, sugar was added in. This has led to a massive increase in obesity, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, even among children
As reported in the New York Times (2.20.15), a nutrition advisory panel that shapes U.S dietary advice eased some of the previous restrictions on fat and cholesterol, while at the same time recommending Americans lower their consumption of sugar. For many years, I have been writing and lecturing about the idiotic cholesterol and fat guidelines that the Powers-That-Be have been espousing. Over 30 years ago, we were told to eat less fat and cholesterol in order to lower our risk from dying from cardiovascular disease. During that same time we were encouraged to increase our consumption of carbohydrates in the form of grains and bakery products. We followed the Powers-That-Be’s advice and guess what? Our health has worsened. During the time we lowered our fat and cholesterol intake, we suffered with more obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Statins work by poisoning an enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) which is needed to produce cholesterol, adrenal and sex hormones, memory proteins and maintain cell energy. The highest concentration of cholesterol in the body is found in the brain. There were 36,605 reports of brain dysfunction from the FDA Adverse Events Databases which included memory impairment, transient cases of global amnesia, confusion, paranoia, disorientation, depression, and dementia related to statin use. Remember, this number is thought to represent only 1-10% of the true number of adverse drug reactions.
Why should a 2% cardiovascular risk reduction in a drug that has shown nothing before this be considered a success? And, keep in mind, that this risk reduction did not include the most meaningful risk reduction–death. This study found no difference in the most important endpoints: overall deaths, cardiovascular deaths, or coronary deaths. Why does my profession accept this mediocrity? Not only do they accept it, they embrace it. It is pathetic. Folks, we spend too much money on drugs that provide little, if any, benefit. In fact, we spend more on drugs than any country on the face of the earth and we lag behind every major Western country on every important health and disease indicator. This study should be the last nail in the coffin for Vytorin. It is a failed drug that has little usefulness. We would be better served to remove it from the marketplace.