The War on (Rx) Drugs – Part I - STATINS

Everyone likes to talk about the war on drugs – cocaine, marijuana, heroin.  I have my own “war on drugs” – but this is against the pathetic pharmaceutical industry who wants everyone to be sick so they can push drugs on them for the rest of their lives.  Don’t believe me?  Well – let’s start with the latest AP story regarding Lipitor – one of this country’s most prescribe drugs.  According to information from the Duke University / the New England Journal of Medicine states that more that half of Americans from 40 to 75 years, and almost all men over 60 may qualify to take statin drugs for the rest of their lives.

These guidelines, which are OK with the American Medical Association states that more than 56 million American may be eligible to take statins – a net gain of almost 15 million more guinea pigs than former guidelines.  Under the guise of preventing almost 500,000 additional heart attacks, these guidelines are suggested.  They were developed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology at the request of the Federal Government. They are called “a big change” in prescription by changing a formula for estimating risk for heart attacks that include blood pressure, levels of total cholesterol, and the amount of “bad” cholesterol, or LDL in the system.  These guidelines also recommend statins for persons 40-75 who may have an estimated 10-year risk of heart disease of 7.5% or higher (based on the new formula). The guidelines are gauged by cholesterol, body weight, and other measurements from the CDC.

Why are these guidelines a sham? Let’s look at individual elements. The first is the emphasis on cholesterol.  At a time in medical pathophysiology when the enlightened practitioners are moving away from higher total cholesterol levels to elevated inflammation levels in the vessels, this is a slap in the face to the latest research.  The movement from low fat diets to higher “good” fat diets, and the emphasis on low inflammation foods is the cutting edge in reduction of cardiovascular risk factors – NOT pumping more Americans full of statins.

Let’s look at the risk factors for statins:  A study last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that in a large sample of statin takers – over 17% experienced side effects such as muscle pain, nausea, and nervous system problems.  Over 66% of patients quit taking the drug for a short time, and 20% for over a year.  Although statins may lower cholesterol (which may not be the biggest impact on heart disease risk), they may mask or contribute to other chronic issues over time.  The USDA states that these chronic issues may be – liver damage, type 2 diabetes, and memory loss. They may also suppress the immune system (leading to an increase risk for cancer), and other issues such as neuropathy and anemia.  One of the biggest issues is that statins is that it may reduce the amount of Co Enzyme Q10 (or CoQ10), which helps in energy production especially within heart tissue – and may lead to coronary artery plaque buildup.

The second issue here is the play on statistics.  One of the researchers in this study was Michael Pencina from Duke University – who is a biostatistician. He is using terms like “those who qualify” and “eligible to be considered for a statin”.  In fact, Dr. Pencina states in an interview – “we wanted to be really objective and just quantify what the guidelines do, and not get into a discussion of whether they are correct”.  So – the guidelines MAY NOT be correct (or applicable to the populations you are trying to reach), but you want to be “objective”. This is circular reasoning, and plays right into the hands of the pharmaceutical companies.   If you want to be honest, you first look to change your diet to include CoQ10 on a regular basis, eat a diet rich in omega 3 oils, keep fasting insulin and leptin levels low, keep blood sugar levels low, keep stress levels low, and keep tabs on belly fat every year.  The more you have of these – the higher your risk of heart disease.  

The reason doctors prescribe drugs such as statins is because they’re EASY. It’s hard to get 65 year old patients to exercise, or change their diet.  Outside of the fact that it’s not really.  Programs such as Healthway’s Silver Sneakers, and American Specialty Health’s Silver and Fit are Medicare-based wellness programs for seniors that are free, and operate in local health clubs.  The more patients hear about them – the more flock to these clubs to take advantage of them.

The drug community sees the writing on the wall – so they are pushing HARD to get more people on drugs that many of them don’t need. Statins are the king of the hill – as so many may be “considered”.  We hope that many will come to their senses, join a gym, change their diet, and never have to take these drugs in the first place.

1.     Annals of Internal Medicine April 2, 2013; 158(7):526-534
2.     Atherosclerosis August 24, 2012
3.    Roberts, B.  The Truth About Statins.