Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Do statins really work? Who benefits? Who has the power to cover up the side effects?

It’s been almost 35 years since scientists Brown and Goldstein won the Nobel prize for discovering how blood cholesterol played a central role in development of heart disease. It was their work that led to pharmaceutical industry developing statins.

 These are drugs that lower cholesterol, and they both reduced heart attacks, and extended lifespan, within a few years of prescription. Just how significant the impact was and how reliable this data is we’ll come to later. In 1996, Goldstein and Brown confidently predicted that we may now see the end of heart disease before the beginning of the 21st century[2].

However, their prophecy was never fulfilled. On the contrary the decades long campaign to lower cholesterol through diet and drugs has completely and utterly failed to curb the global pandemic of heart disease. Indeed, heart disease still remains the biggest killer in the western world and the UK has recently seen a rise in death rates from the condition for the first time in 50 years[3].

It is still little known or understood amongst the wider medical community that insulin resistance, linked to excess body fat is the most important risk factor for heart attacks[4]. It is also a clear sign of impending type two diabetes. A disease which has become the single largest cost to the NHS, accounting for approximately 10% of the budget.

The good news is that Insulin resistance can be effectively combatted through a combination of dietary changes, moderate activity and psychological stress reduction[5].

Unfortunately, we remain trapped in a flawed model for heart disease, which promotes low fat high carbohydrate diets and the replacement of saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats. This, despite that fact that. when tested in multiple randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (considered the gold standard form of evidence) no real benefit has ever been seen from reducing saturated fat or even replacing it with polyunsaturated fat despite significant reductions in blood cholesterol. In fact, the dietary guidelines may have caused harm, as pointed out by two cardiologists in a stinging peer reviewed paper recently published in the BMJ’s Evidence Based Medicine Journal[6].

The authors also point out two trials actually revealed an INCREASE in death rates from the group that lowered cholesterol versus the one’s that didn’t. Cardiologist and Editor in chief of JAMA internal medicine, Professor Rita Redberg pertinently points out “ cholesterol is just a lab number, who cares about lowering cholesterol unless it actually translates into a benefit for patients? [7]”

Yet the fear of cholesterol is very much imprinted on the minds of doctors and members of the public. A message that has been enthusiastically driven by a multi-billion-dollar low-fat cholesterol lowering industry. Next year it’s predicted that total revenues from sales of cholesterol lowering statin drugs could reach US $1 trillion[8].

All of this raises and important question. Is high cholesterol really a risk factor for heart disease at all?

Read article: https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/features/do-statins-really-work-who-benefits-who-has-the-power-to-cover-up-the-side-effects/