Sunday, April 10, 2011

Statins: Not Effective for Prevention

Statin drugs are the #1 top selling drug in the United States and have been so since at least 2004. One would think that a great deal of benefit would come from taking a top-selling statin drug like Lipitor or Crestor. These drugs are designed to lower "bad" cholesterol and make "good" cholesterol go up. Well, sounds good so far right? We are all bombarded with information that tells us that cholesterol is the bad guy and as long as we control those levels, we will be spared the pain and suffering of cardiovascular disease. That theory of heart disease, that cholesterol blocks up our arteries, has been referred to as the plumber's model of heart disease. Simple enough idea.

Blocked pipes are a bad thing so lets invent drugs to make sure the pipes stay clean. Who can argue with that logic? Yet when we look at the scientific evidence that showed statins are beneficial, there are some major red flags. Researchers have been performing meta-analysis of the supporting research and they have found significant evidence against the use of statins. For starters, recent important research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine June 2010 issue has concluded:

"...results of the trial do not support the use of statin treatment for primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases and raise troubling questions concerning the role of commercial sponsors."

Adding more fuel to the fire is a recent 2011 review of statins published in the prestigious Cochrane Database. In this meta-analysis the authors looked at data from 16 studies and over 35,000 participants. This team reached a similar conclusion in their study:

"...there was evidence of selective reporting of outcomes, failure to report adverse events and inclusion of people with cardiovascular disease. Only limited evidence showed that primary prevention with statins may be cost effective and improve patient quality of life. Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk."

These two important reviews demonstrate that basically the pharmaceutical industry lied in their research which they used as justification to establish statins as effective treatment for high cholesterol and heart disease. And to make matters worse, the entire medical system then used this flawed research and incorporated into the standard of practice for all doctors which just perpetuated the problem for everyone. With unethical (criminal?) conduct like this on the part of the pharmaceutical and medical industry is it any wonder that we are in such a health care crisis today? Do medical doctors and policy makers read the research in their own journals?

If only health was that easy - just take a drug and everything will work out. Well if you happen to pay attention to trends or read the literature, the one-drug, one-cause approach is an expensive and painful failure. Chronic disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States. We are spending more money and getting less in return and our flawed approach to health is clearly evident in how statins are being used as a preventative tool when the evidence demonstrates that is useless at best or even harmful (more on this in the next post).

The best approach to be healthy is to change your lifestyle and habits. This can be done by working with a local functional medicine chiropractor or other physician who is trained to use nutrition and lifestyle modification to balance body chemistry and promote optimum function. As Dr. Robert Rakowski said, "Nutrition is not alternative medicine, it is the foundation of life!" We couldn't agree more. Stay tuned for our next article on statins and CoQ10.

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