Part 2 of the Heart of the Matter aired last night in Australia. And not without a lot of courage on the part of ABC and Dr Maryanne Demasi, who conceived of and put the show together. This program, an absolutely devastating expose of the dangers and general uselessness of statin drugs, was fought tooth and toenail by the mainstream statinators. When you watch the show, you’ll know why.
For years I have been harping on this blog about how statins have been grossly oversold to both the doctors and the public. But this should not come as a surprise since statins as a group are the largest selling class of drugs in the world accounting for God only knows how much profit to the pharmaceutical industry. I’m the last person to gripe about someone making money, but in this case, I have a real problem. Why? Because there is so much Big Pharma money out there that it affects everything. It seeps into doctors lives starting with their medical training right through to retirement.
When the pharmaceutical industry first developed cholesterol-lowering drugs, the approach was to sell the patients on them. Scare them to death about their cholesterol levels, and get them to ask their doctors about a prescription. Way back then doctors weren’t taken in by this cholesterol-has-to-be-below 200 mg/dl nonsense, and told their patients not to worry. Then Big Pharma did the sales job on physicians.
MD and I got invited to one of their sales weekends. We, along with about a hundred other docs, were put up in suites at an exclusive resort. Everything was paid for, and, let me tell you, the meal spreads were lavish. We all lounged around over the weekend having multiple receptions of one kind or another – including fabulous food and all the drink one wanted – and a whole lot of laying-by-the-pool time. There was an afternoon of propaganda we all had to attend.
The whole herd of us sat through about three lectures on the evils of elevated cholesterol and how the lipid hypothesis wasn’t really a hypothesis but was the hard truth. They didn’t actually say that in those words, but that was the implication. And they finished off with the now-famous bit about how every percent increase in LDL levels brought about a two percent increase in risk for heart disease. Which, of course, is all hogwash, and was obviously hogwash to anyone paying attention who had a modicum of knowledge about how to interpret a scientific study. Sad to say, most physicians don’t fall into that category. During the farewell reception, where drinks flowed, I could tell that most everyone was sold on the notion of widespread cholesterol checking and aggressive treatment not of a disease but of a lab value. It was truly depressing.
I’ve written about the general uselessness of statins in numerous posts on this blog over the past seven or eight years. The Australian show pretty much confirms everything I’ve written with a few extra dollops of outrage.
I’m almost never surprised when when I learn the lengths to which Big Pharma will go to sell drugs. But some of the revelations in this show stunned even me.
I have had readers write me that their docs were going to fire them as patients if they didn’t take a statin drug for even minor elevations of cholesterol. Having been in practice a many years, I found this almost unbelievable. But now I’ve got a better inkling of what is really going on.
Dr. Beatrice Golomb, an academic physician at the University of California San Diego, is one of the world’s leading researchers on statin drugs. Here is her stunning explanation of why many docs almost force statins on their patients:
Some of them tell us that their doctors fire them as patients if they discontinue their statins, which I really wonder about the ethics of. Some of the people that we hear from also say that their doctor didn’t believe them, that their problem couldn’t be due to statins, and based on how patients perceive it, badger or bully them into resuming or continuing the medication. That’s not an acceptable way for medicine, as a system, to be run.
I think they often intentionally hide those risks because there are often physician incentives that benefit the physician for having more patients on statins. So it pits physician self-interest against patient benefit. This particular woman contacted me, and she had left the practice that she was at because they insisted that at least… I believe it was 80% of her patients be on statins. This has actually been written up in media as something that is actually considered legal and acceptable. I can’t see any way in which that’s acceptable. I’m literally the only researcher I know who studies this class of drugs who has a policy not to take money from industry.
Now you know why those docs were so adamant you take a statin. Many had to meet their quotas to keep getting Big Pharma swag.
Dr. John Abramson, a Harvard physician who often testifies as an expert witness in litigation agains drug companies, makes the following case against statins, which is the same case I’ve made over the years in the pages of this blog. Statins don’t do anything for overall health and longevity. All they really do is trade one set of risk factors for another;
People are more than their cardiovascular system, and what we really want to do is improve people’s overall health, longevity and the risk of serious illness. If you look at overall health, we haven’t done anything for them. Now, do people want to take a statin to trade one cardiovascular event for some other very serious illness – in other words, no net benefit – and expose themself to the risk of harm from the statins? Do you want to do that? I think it’s a bad deal. If somebody has a particular fear of heart disease and says, ‘Look, I don’t care if I get diabetes, I don’t care if I have muscle symptoms, I don’t care if I can’t exercise the way I want to exercise, I do not want to have heart disease,’ fine, take a statin. But understand that that’s why you’re taking a statin, not because it’s going to improve your overall health.
If, after watching the show below, you want more info on not just statins, but other overprescribed drugs that have been shown to be useless or even harmful, take a look at Dr. Abramson’s book Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine. If you are on any number of worthless prescription drugs, the info in this book can save you vast multiples of its modest cost.The book goes into much greater depth on the statin issue along with other commonly prescribed drugs in to a much greater extent than can be done in a half hour show. You will be as outraged after reading it as you will be after watching the show below.
Here is the take home message on statins:
Statins do not decrease all-cause mortality in the vast majority of people. Long-term studies have never been able to demonstrate that women of any age or with any degree of heart disease live longer by taking statins. The same long-term studies show that men over the age of 65 live no longer by taking statins. Men under 65 who have never had heart disease – and were talking actual heart disease here, not just an elevated cholesterol level – gain no longevity benefit from taking statins. The only small group of people who have been shown to benefit from statins are men under 65 who have had a heart attack. But unfortunately that benefit is small.
Multiple studies have shown that taking statins does reduce both the incidence and severity of heart attacks. But these same studies don’t show any increase in longevity for those taking statins (other than the small benefit for men under 65 who have had heart attacks). Why. Statins simply trade one risk for another. Take them and you reduce the risk of a heart attack but increase your risk for cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, and side effects related to the drugs themselves. Many people die each year from statin-induced side effects. Despite what anyone may tell you, statins are not benign drugs.
Dr. Ernest Curtis, who is prominently featured in the show, wrote a terrific book on the world’s obsession with cholesterol titled The Cholesterol Delusion. Whenever I see statistics about the number of people taking statins, I’m haunted by a paragraph in this book considering the future that perhaps may await these individuals:
As severe as some of these short-term side effects can be [Dr. Curtis had been discussing statin side effects], they pale into relative insignificance when compared to the potential long-term problems. The chief difficulty here is that no one knows what the long-term effects may be from altering the basic biochemistry of the human body over a period of time. Because cholesterol is the key element in the formation of cell membranes, which are the protective coat for the cells, it may be that blocking cholesterol’s production will weaken the protective barrier and allow the entry of toxins or carcinogens that were previously excluded. There are disturbing reports of increased cancer in some cholesterol-lowering studies, but, in fact, this process make take many years to play out. It’s enough at this point to acknowledge that the long-term effects are completely unknown. This is a risk that should receive serious attention before half the population is placed on these drugs that, in effect, accomplish nothing more than low-dose aspirin or an extra glass or two of water each day.
A sobering thought.
Let me know of any stories you might have of doctors trying to force statins on you. Or of side effects you’ve experienced.
I have never put a patient on a statin. When I encounter a patient on a statin I tell them that I need to treat over 345 people before one will benefit. Most want to discontinue the drug after hearing that.
Think again !
It is Swedish. Nyttigt means healthy.
Thanks for the explanation. I went back through the post about three times thinking I had a typo in there somewhere.
Hi Dr. Eades,
I had an allergic reaction to simvastatin in which I first developed hives and then my tongue and throat swelled to a frightening degree. I went to see an allergist, and everything else was ruled out. Then after thinking about it I realized the drug had caused the reaction, and perfectly explained the timing and everything else about the episode.
I was only taking the drug as part of a quid pro quo with my doc to try it briefly.
I find, and always have found, the mechanism of statins to be very frightening.
I have tested as high as 345mg/dL for LDL-c (NOT TC — that was in the 400s) on a ketogenic diet. My health, at 55 years of age, is excellent overall I think. My only concern is a borderline pre-diabetic fasting hyperglycemia — my doc is not at all concerned about this but has been extremely bothered by the “hypercholesterolemia”.
A recent dietary experiment proved that I am a dietary cholesterol hyperabsorber — I reduced my LDL-c from the 345 previously mentioned to 160 (mg/dL) strictly by eliminating (temporarily, of course) eggs and liver from my diet.
A recent coronary calcium test resulted in a score of zero. I have genetically susceptible Islet beta cells but probably strong endothelial cells.
I have no signs of conventional FH (e.g. xanthomas).
I believe that at least 10% to 20% of the population, on a diet such as mine, will exhibit similar serum lipid concentrations. It is only the diet itself that is rare.
The homeostatis model on a high-fat diet is different and unknown, I believe — the intestine becomes the dominant user, absorber, and synthesizer (I suspect) of cholesterol to service chylomicron transport, as opposed to liver and VLDL.
Hi Dr. Eades,
I’m a longtime reader of your blog and cannot thank you enough for the great books you continuously recommend. “Mistakes Were Made – But Not By Me” is one of my all time favorite books.
Now I’d like to give you my story of an internist trying (in vain) to force me to go on a statin (forgive me for this being a bit long). At the time, I was a healthy 39-year old mother of two (I’m now 43) following a low-carb diet and regularly exercising. I’m 5’6” and weigh 132lbs (don’t tell anyone). I had never seen this doctor before, but went for a full physical and the usual battery of blood tests. This physician came highly recommended by my friends and colleagues.
The Dr. was very kind and the exam went fine. She spent about 20 minutes with me and then sent me to get my blood drawn for the full profile. She asked me to set up a follow up appointment after my test results were in.
Fast forward two weeks and here are my results (copied directly from the report):
Direct HDL Cholesterol: 73
LDL Calculated Cholesterol: 165
VLDL Calculated Cholesterol: 12
Chol/HDL ratio: 3.0
Non-HDL cholesterol: 178
I’ve read “The Great Cholesterol Con”, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and many other books on the lipid hypothesis. I braced myself for our return meeting. As expected, it did not go well. She started out by telling me my numbers were HORRIBLE. I nodded my head and asked her why (I was baiting her, I admit). She proceeded to tell me that my LDL was dangerously high, and that my total count was WAY above the recommended 200 total.
I then proceeded to ask her about my naturally high HDL and low triglyceride count. She dismissed them as minimal at best. Sitting there, I knew that HDL and triglycerides are a much more accurate predictor of heart disease than LDL alone (I’m not sure she knew that). When I pointed this fact out, she did not look pleased.
She then got really angry when I suggested that perhaps my overall results were incorrect because my triglycerides were so low and that the standard calibration is assumed to be at least 150 (perhaps I’m a little off on my numbers, I’m going from memory from Gary Taubes’ book). Then she busted out the big guns: A STATIN was the best thing I could do to save myself from certain death. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little, but not by much. I adamantly disagreed and insisted on an additional test, the NMR Lipid Profile. She said she wasn’t sure it was available, but she would check. I left her office with my blood work order in hand and a smug grin on my face.
Now let’s get to the particle concentration size results of the NMR Lipid Profile:
HDL-P (total): 38.3
Small LDL-P: <90
LDL Size: 22.0
Large VLDL-P: 3.4
Small LDL-P: <90
Large HDL-P: 11.6
VLDL Size: 48.1
LDL Size: 22.0
HDL Size: 9.7
LP-IR Score: 26
And there you have it. I’m a walking heart attack. Or not. I couldn’t wait to see her again to discuss my results. At my appointment the next day, things were definitely tense. She asked me if I had reconsidered her recommendation to begin a statin. I told her absolutely not. She asked me why. I said: “Because I am a female with large, fluffy LDL particles that actually provide a protective benefit and no history of hyperlipidemia.” She just stared at me. There was so much more I wanted to say, but I didn’t. She shook her head and said: “You’re making a mistake.” At that point, our time together was concluded. I drove away thinking of all the other women she would see that day, and how many had no idea that the statin she was enthusiastically recommending would do them more harm than good.
I went home and hugged my two boys. I went for a walk with my dog. I ate some bacon and eggs. And I’m still alive and kicking today without those nasty statins. I was raised to believe that doctors have all the answers. As I get older and hopefully wiser, I’ve learned that’s just not the case. I will always question, poke, prod and read until I find out the rest of the story.
And one more footnote: When my 12-year old son had his annual checkup this year with his pediatrician, they tested him for cholesterol levels. His total count was 212. The pediatrician came in and said: “His levels are a little high, I think we should talk about this.” I gave him a look that must have said it all. I responded with: “Absolutely not. This is not up for discussion.” He looked at me and said goodbye and left. One more down, several more to go.
All the best,
What an AWESOME story.
I love how in 2013 it’s not all that hard for a patient to know more about what ails them than their doctor (who has gotten much of her training from Pfizer drug reps.)
Thanks Samantha for relating your story. Have you been able to find a doctor who is either into or tolerant of low-carb, and who gets it about cholesterol and statins?
Sorry for the delayed reply. I have not been able to find a doctor who isn’t drinking the “statin koolaid”. In light of the recommended guidelines that were released last week, I think my chances just got worse :). Have you had any luck? I go for a physical next week, and I’m thinking of just skipping the whole cholesterol part of the bloodwork.
Your doc must have missed the great study which showed the TG/HDL ratio a far better predictor of CV events than LDL. Hell your ratio is less than unity. You have nothing to fear. They have a new test out called the Triple Marker which measures your oxLDL, hsCRP and HDL. Gee three labs that actually have some predictive power! The oxLDL really tells it all since it’s a direct indicator of your oxidation status (inflammatory status) which is a direct indicator of how many antioxidants you consume. Your doc obviously doesn’t know this like most of them. Go to my site for more: wwwinflaNATION.com for weekly blogs on an upcoming book.
This is interesting. My TG/HDL ratio is 0.56 (79/140), and my doctor was still trying to push statins on me at my last visit. I do have a high Calc LDL value (208), but when I mentioned that it would be worthwhile to check the size of the LDL particles using an advanced lipid panel, my doctor countered that my insurance may not cover that. I find it hard to understand why insurance would pay for unneeded drugs, but not a test to determine if they were necessary.
I had sharp chronic pain that started in the shoulder and moved (over the course of two or three months) gradually down my arm after stopping the simvastatin. I almost forgot that “minor” side effect. Eventually the pain dissipated. While it lasted it was enough to prevent me from using a keyboard at times.
Rosuvastatin (Crestor 5mg) 5 years 2006-2011.
Side effects: peripheral neuropathy, gynecomastia, memory lapses, loss of balance, difficulty walking.
Also, likely contributor to obesity (+20kg* in that period) and a possible cause of/contributor to prostate cancer.
A switch to LCHF eating at the end of 2011 (when I dumped the statin) removed that 20kg and more besides.
The side effects mostly took 2-3 years to become evident, another year or so to pin down, then about a year of abstinence to largely reverse them (except the peripheral neuropathy – only a small improvement there).
Because diabetics are treated as if they have already had their first heart attack, most doctors are very keen for them to go on cholesterol-lowering medication.
In every diabetes forum I follow, fairly often I read posts from members saying that their doctors have sacked them for refusing to take statins. So that claim on the program was no surprise at all to me.
My own doctor, who is enthusiastic about low carb diets since seeing my results, told me only a couple of weeks ago that ‘statins are one of the best things we have’. But at least she’s happy with my cholesterol panel, since my triglycerides are low and my HDL is high. And she hasn’t sacked me for refusing to take any cholesterol-lowering medication, since Crestor gave me dreadful muscle pain that took over a year to disappear after I stopped taking the medication, and Lipidil (a non-statin) sent me to the brink of total kidney failure. She said then that she would have to find something else to prescribe, and I just said ‘Don’t bother, because I won’t take it.
Good post but one correction, doctors don’t sack patients, these doctors quit their job. Since patients are the one paying for the service, they do the firing not the the doctor.
Seems like a nit, but it’s important that patients understand they are hiring a doctor to assist them with their healthcare. As the employer, they are the ones in charge not unlike hiring a lawyer, accountant or mechanic. How many mechanics “fire” their customers for taking a pass on that transmission rebuild recommendation? The concept is laughable.
Jeff I was told by my cardiologist not to bother making another appointment because I would be dead in six months after refusing his statin prescription……
I am still here two years later and still not on statins but I do have CVD and manage it best I can with lifestyle.
I have been fired by GP’s for refusing their advice. YOU ARE WRONG…. sorry
These doctors are government employees who are duty bound to prescribe these drugs when a patient meets certain criteria. They can be seriously reprimanded or even have their licence cancelled for not following government guidelines….. THEREFORE politicians set health criteria!
“These doctors are government employees who are duty bound to prescribe these drugs when a patient meets certain criteria. They can be seriously reprimanded or even have their licence cancelled for not following government guidelines….. THEREFORE politicians set health criteria!”
So this is what we can expect from socialized medicine?!? This does NOT bode well for the USofA because that is where the Democrats(socialists) are going to take us.
If that’s true than that’s not socialized medicine, that’s the U.S. Federal Gov’t-managed socialized medicine. The same gov’t that invented the Food Pyramid, and brought you State-locked employer-based “free-market” health insurance, as well as medical tort laws probably written by the trial lawyer lobby.
Yeah, Larry, and it’s pretty scary. I just hope we can get some common horsesense in Congress AND the WH.
Claire, I have to agree with you. I was dismissed by a practice I had gone to for 13 years. No reason was given. Only it was the administration that did it, not the doctor himself.But he did not give me any support Makes me wonder….. about a lot of things. Did I read too much information? Was I a nonconformist who refused to take their word on everything? No. I did follow their advice during a rough bout of pneumonia and 6 weeks IV antibiotics, to which I had a severe allergic reaction.
So, practice WILL kick us out. Trouble is, I can’t even go to satellites of this group, except for one a half hour away! And that one has also swallowed the statin koolaid. Uses her nurses to push those things, even after I lowered the total cholesteral 17 points on my own! (230 to 213)
What gripes me the most is they’ll hold my asthma meds and thyroid (which I’ve taken since 6 wks of age due to a non-working gland) hostage till I have my lipid panel done. Then they start the whole spiel all over again, denying that I ever told them I will not take the statins. Ever.
Stress will raise cholesterol levels. And with what my husband, sister, and I have gone through with getting all of our parents combined taken care of, I hardly think a darn lipid panel will be an accurate picture of my health right now. Just another excuse for them to push my buttons and get me on their bandwagon. A big plus: I may have convinced my . Hubby to talk to his dr. (the same one who did not support me) about gettin off of the statins. I pray this guy listens without kicking hubby out.
Hello Dr. Eades,
Really appreciate your blog…
Wondering if a large daily supplementation of L-Arginine (5,000mg) can somehow decrease Vitamin D levels to a significant deficiency level?
I may not be the world’s expert on L-arginine nor on vitamin D, but I’m not aware of a way 5,000 mg of L-arginine can influence vitamin D levels. Anyone out there have any insight on this?
So Dr. Eades, what are your thoughts on putting a young girl on statins?
I have a friend who’s daughter has been on statins for a few years (she’s 11, AFAIR). She’s having trouble learning, which seems to me like a expected consequence…
In my opinion, there is absolutely no rationale for putting an 11 y/o girl on statins. Maybe if she’s got severe familial hyperlipidemia with a huge family history of early related to heart disease. But even then, I would think she would be started later. And it does sound like she is experiencing some of the consequences…
Are you aware of Dr Stephane Seneff’s (MIT) work on cholesterol? This misguided Tx for a little girl is insanity. Dr Seneff basically says statins are metabolic poisons and that nobody should be taking them.She adds that they in fact age you faster and make elderly people feeble. That’s just the small stuff too. She has an interview with Dr Mercola that’s absolutely fascinating on vitamin D, sunlight, sulfating cholesterol and more. Really insightful outside the box stuff.
Yep, I’m aware of Dr. Seneff’s work and follow it closely.
I agree about making elderly people feeble!
My dad is 84. Had stents placed at age 68, and more later. Never had a cholesterol issue. Ever. They put him on statins simply because of him having stents! Now, he has dementia. And has had a mild stroke several years ago, and a more severe one in the last two weeks, which made his dementia even worse, plus physically disabled him.
My mother has a milder degree of dementia (six months She also took statins at some time. Meanwhile, her sister, only 14 months younger, has the thinking ability of someone a decade younger. And another aunt who is 89 and has never been on statins, is learning how to use a tablet, and is sharp as a tack… My parents can barely handle a simple tv remote!
That’s the worst thing I’ve heard all day. Dr. Perlmutter talks about the adverse effects of statins on brains in his book “Grain Brain.” It’s seriously disturbing, I’d highly recommend you look into that book for your friend and that girl’s doctor needs the book as well because he’s risking her overall health and schooling and future and brain health all for nothing…. so sad.
This is terrifying.
An 11-year old girl on statins?
You’re right — that she can’t learn is absolutely no surprise. Cholesterol is critical for the brain. And what’s this poor girl going to do when she starts going through puberty (if she’s not already there) — good luck making enough estrogen, progesterone, and other sex hormones without sufficient cholesterol. Very, very scary stuff for this child. (Not to mention the other effects…fatigue, weakness, myalgia…oy.)
Thanks for posting! Just a small correction: the name is Beatrice Golomb, not Golumb. She’s been a favourite for a long time. This is a great rant from 2006: http://youtu.be/OAbJm9-TS5A
At 30:35 she interrupts an audience question from Neil deGrasse Tyson starting at 29:40, and a wonderful interchange ensues…
Thanks for the heads up. It was just a typo. I know her name well.
Thanks also for the video. I hadn’t seen it.
I was in a paper-interview type study by Golomb, and she was so helpful, and sent me a copy of her big paper on statin side effects, that I made a small contribution to her study, as I understood she was having difficulty getting funding because her ideas weren’t mainstream. The only problem is that now I’m on UC San Diego’s list of people who give donations, but I can cope with that.
If others are fans, they might look into donating. I don’t know if she’s still in the position of getting grants rejected because of her unpopular views. Or maybe in these Tea Party days, everyone is getting their grants rejected.
Gretchen, do you have any info on how we can donate?
This site is sort of elderly, but you might start there. The Contribute link in the text is broken, but the one at the bottom of the page seems to work.
Thank you for steering me to the presentations! I was able to download .mp4 files of both parts from the website mentioned at the end of Part 1. They play just fine from the computer or a CD; I haven’t tried to make a DVD yet. I’m particularly intrigued by the claim that the Framingham Study has indicated that serum cholesterol becomes protective after age 47 (I’m 72) and those seniors with higher readings are living longer.
I want to get rid of my Type II diabetes with diet and exercise alone, if at all possible. I’m almost convinced that the cholesterol-heart disease connection is bogus but the heart disease is just one aspect of atherosclerosis and I’ve got painful circulation blockages as well as pins-and-needles feelings in two toes. If dietary cholesterol isn’t the problem what is and can I cure it with diet and exercise? I spent over a year on a low carbohydrate high fat diet only to see my blood sugar numbers increase. Now I’m trying Dr. Fuhrman’s all plant based diet which is similar to “Forks over Knives”. If it works for me I’ll have an answer for me.
The first book I read on Diabetes was “Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution”. He’s a type I diabetic from age 12, now 75, who found that a low carbohydrate diet stopped his symptoms from deteriorating. Apparently Type II is different.
I’d like to find a medical program somewhere that will help. Currently I’m investigating Kaiser Permanente, which I first joined in 1949, and the Veterans Administration, which I joined more recently due to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. I’m totally convinced that conventional medicine will kill me.
Maybe I should get out of the Medicare Advantage program and take my Medicare benefits to the specialists in these presentations.
Read Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories if you haven’t already.
Type 2 diabetes is only different in that it responds even better to low carb diets. I don’t know about the specifics of your case, but I’ve seen quite a few people have their diabetes go into remission after starting a strict paleo diet, which is a type of low carb diet.
Yesterday I was facing a lot of pressure to take statins from a Lipodologist and a Cardiologist here in Sweden. They’ve basically diagnosed me with familial hypercholesterolaemia after the following results:
Apo A1 1,81 g/L
Apo B 2,04 g/L
Trig 1,8 mmol
Total Chol 9,8 mmol
HDL 1.6 mmol
LDL 7.4 mmol
Three other chol esterol tests gave similar results to the above. You can’t get more advanced tests done here in Sweden and they don’t want to carry out a FH genetic test.
As a fit, 33yrold, 10% bf male who regularly lifts weight, I’m fighting a battle not to take statins. There’s not history of high cholesterol on my mother’s or father’s side and no early CVD events.
The pressure to take statins is immense. Both explained how 750,000 Swedes take a statin, they’re one of the most tested drugs etc etc and in ‘my condition’ it’s important to start early.
We agreed that I would cut out my 4 eggs a day and retest in 2 months, but I’m expecting to be pressured again. Your comments (obviously not medical advice :)) would be appreciated.
First, your lipid figures are not in the familial hyperlipidemia range. In fact, your total cholesterol is just slightly above what we used to consider the upper limit of normal when I was in medical school before all the cholesterol hysteria began.
Second, I have taken care of many, many patients with lipid levels similar to yours with low-carb diet and had all their figures drop into the current normal levels.
You can use this online conversion chart to convert from mg/dl (used in the States) to mmol/l used in Sweden to compare the lipid values in these patients to your own.
Keep us all posted.
Dr Eades, I’m curious, what were the previous target cholesterol numbers prior to the cholesterol hysteria?
Back when I was in medical school in the late 1970s, we weren’t focused all that much on cholesterol levels. As I recall from then, the upper level of normal was 300 or 320. Once the cholesterol hysteria kicked in, the upper level of normal dropped to 240, then to 220 and now it’s 200.
Mary Enig was present at the 1984 Cholesterol Consensus Conference and was an eye (and ear) witness to the political skulduggery that resulted in the reduction of the cutoff for serum cholesterol from 240 to 200 mg/dl. Here is her account:
“The enclosed three paragraphs, which I wrote last week for the Weston A Price Foundation website to add to the “Oiling of America” article tells how the 200 mg/dl cutoff for serum cholesterol was decided back in 1984″ .
Mary Enig, PhD
“Gary Taubes, a staff writer for Science wrote an article called “The Soft Science of Dietary Fat” for the 30 March 2001 issue of Science. He had reviewed all the available information on the demonization of dietary fat and the cholesterol issues and listened to the tapes of the 1984 Cholesterol Consensus Conference. He presented the graph which showed quite clearly that serum cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dl to 240 mg/dl were definitely in the normal cholesterol range for which there was no increased risk of heart mortality in males and even above 240 mg/dl there was a decrease in risk for women.
But what Gary Taubes didn’t know was that there was a political decision being made on the floor of the NIH (Building 10) Mazur Auditorium that day in December 1984. The decision would allow the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to have yet another even more extensive long-term “trial” to work on. The NHLBI could not get more money from Congress for more large trials such as the MRFIT or LRC and they were developing the National Cholesterol Education Program. With the cutoff number at the lower end of the normal range (200 mg/dl), they could include all of the healthy normal citizens in the range that would need treatment with diet, and since the diet would never work to permanently lower those normal levels (eg, 200 mg/dl to 240 or 260 mg/dl) to below 200 mg/dl, they could recommend that all these people should go onto cholesterol-lowering medications.
The three men who were heading the NHLBI (Cleeman, Lenfant, and Rifkin) were standing together in the Mazur Auditorium just before the Cholesterol Consensus Conference began. They were discussing the cutoff level of serum cholesterol to put into the consensus report. One said to the other two, “but we can’t have the cutoff at 240 [mg/dl]; it has to be at 200 [mg/dl] or we won’t have enough people to test.” Several of us from the University of Maryland Department of Chemistry Lipids Research Group were standing directly behind them and within clear earshot. We looked at each other and of course were not surprised when the final numbers came out. This small chat did not get onto the tapes that Taubes reviewed.”
Interesting. Thanks very much for posting.
And my doctor has a coniption fit because it was still over 200, AFTER I lowered mine to 213 from 230. And my Hdl was high. And this was after the stress of placing our parents in nursing home and assisted living already had started…..
Dr. Evades, could you PLEASE touch on the effects of stress on cholesterol, and whether it is even wise to expect a person to have a lipid panel done during a stressful period? I have NO heart issues, have had numerous tests which determined my chest discomforts were from a different cause (reflux, ribcage inflammation, etc)
These doctors, nurses and lab technicians are OBSESSED with this cholesterol level/statin nonsense!
Thanks to autocorrect, your name was spelled wrong. My apologies, Dr. Eades.
Here’s a thought experiment.
All you non-physicians, you’re now the doctor. You and your colleagues for years have been admonished to “get with the guidelines,” i.e., the cholesterol goals set by the National Cholesterol Education Adult Treatment Panel-III. Insurance companies you have contracts with, and your livelihood depends on, are monitoring you to see that you adhere to the guidelines.
Maybe you question whether the cholesterol treatment goals are reasonable.
BUT. But, but, but…. You know there’s a one in a hundred chance (or one in a thousand) that your out-of-compliance patient will have a damaging heart attack or even death in the next 10 years, quite possibly totally unrelated to cholesterol levels.
When that adverse event happens, and it eventually will, you know a malpractice lawyer will have no trouble whatsoever finding cardiologists willing to testify at your trial that the event could have easily been prevented if only you had prescribed that statin. “Doctor, your patient would be alive today if only you had prescribed Lipitor!”
Your malpractice trial will be a huge time sink, emotionally draining, and a visceral threat to the very fiber of your being. You endured at 11-15 years of higher education so you could help people! Now your accused of manslaughter. Adding insult to injury, a judgment against you in excess of your malpractice insurance limit could bankrupt you.
So whatcha you gonna do? Prescribe the statin or not?
(Parker here. I’m not defending statins, just playing devil’s advocate. Great movie by the way, Devil’s Advocate. About lawyers, starring Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino. “Lawyers! We’re the new priesthood, baby!”)
Nice thought experiment. I’m sure it will help many people understand why doctors so what they do vis a vis statins.
These are all the very same thoughts I had when I put my first hyperlipidemic patients on low-carb, high-fat diets in the peak of the low-fat frenzy.
Don’t think I didn’t have some sleepless nights.
It’s not so bad now, though. At least now there are academic physicians who are articulate and passionate in their anti-statins views (you saw a few in this video) who could come to a doc’s aid to offset the naysaying of a gaggle of cardiologists the plaintiff’s attorney would muster.
There are tons of lawsuits against Big Pharma regarding statins (just Google “statin attorney”) and very few malpractice suits against physicians regarding failure to prescribe statins. The standard of care is changing, thanks in large part to people like Dr. Eades and Dr. Golomb. Plaintiff lawyers are not to blame for this debacle. We have the same goals: to help people.
My answer to the thought experiment you posed is simple: informed consent documented in the patient’s chart. Instead of automatically prescribing statins, as many physicians do because it *used* to be the gold standard, why not give the patient the information to decide whether she wants to undertake the risk of statins, versus the pain of giving up carbs (including induction flu), versus other alternatives including just doing nothing. My FP gave me that choice. “Do your research and let me know in 2 weeks whether I am writing you a prescription.” I decided to go low carb. I shaved 100 off my triglycerides in less than 90 days and improved my cholesterol numbers across the board within a year. I was also prediabetic, but no longer. I can’t say enough good things about my doctor!
Simple fix to that. You as a doctor explain the risks to the patient and have them sign a consent form knowing all the non-benefit of statins. That way, they are shielded from potential malpractice suits. Of course, this would require that physicians exercise some due diligence and investigate these drugs they so readily prescribe.
This is why we need more people suing their doctors for prescribing statins when they subsequently get diabetes or cancer.
Interesting idea, I’m leaning toward agreeing given the almost total lack of properly executed science. (My own background is in physics-based stuff so I’m familiar with the scientific method and how much easier it is to isolate one factor in hard science than in biology which has to rely on statistical studies.)
In June 2001 when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (about 30 years after probable exposure to Agent Orange) I was immediately put on Glyburide (a sulfonylurea to stimulate the beta cells in the pancreas – leading to earlier total burnout and insulin injections; I quit those meds) for blood sugar control, a statin for cholesterol control and and Lysinopril for blood pressure control. I’ve since learned that elevated cholesterol and blood pressure are among the results of high blood sugar.
Then I was horrified to learn recently that statins can cause/exacerbate diabetes, so I quit the statins as well. “The Heart of the Matter” part 2 listed side effects I had been experiencing, now gone, but didn’t realize they were from the statin.
Having eliminated most of the medications in use it seems that diet and exercise are the methods of choice for controlling blood sugar. Since humans have mostly lived on the surface of the planet between the edges of the polar ice sheets it seems logical that the human diet has been mostly animal based, animals are available year round, supplemented by carbohydrate foods when they were “in season” – until the advent of cultivation (not “civilization” which means “builds cities” – not related to farming). The hybridized fruits and vegetables available today are probably nothing like what grew wild before cultivation began (ever heard that someone tried to develop a square tomato that could be machine harvested?).
The commonality among all the various diets seems to be the total avoidance of fast acting sugars and high glycemic starches like potatoes and refined grains, maybe even whole grains too.
My personal bottom line, so far, is, while anyone’s low carbohydrate diet will probably work, I’m focusing on “Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution” and “Protein Power”. Since both of those include light carbohydrates I’m using the plant-based ideas to choose the carbohydrate sources. Dr. Bernstein allows 6-12-12 grams of carbohydrate to get to the 30 grams per day, 6 grams at breakfast to compensate for the natural blood sugar spike that occurs upon rising to start the day. I’ll investigate the Paleo diet ideas to see if there’s some variation there.
I’m a 45 yr old male who had a mild MI at age 40 and 3 stents placed. Leading up to that day I ate a SAD which consisted mostly of fast food, zero exercise and used various forms of tobacco off and on for 17 years. I had dislipidemia consistent with metabolic syndrom but no diabetes.
Afterwards I was put on Lipitor 80mg (with some other drugs; Plavix, Metoprolol, Lisinopril, Trilipix, Aspirin). I quit all tobacco products and ate a low fat “heart healthy” diet and started light to mild exercising. 3 years later I had gained 70lbs and developed type 2 diabetes (A1C 9.0 FBG 153). I had muscle pain, gout, dizziness, on/off blurred vision and little to no energy and exercise intolerance. I blamed the statin, my doctors blamed (my newly acquired and my fault) diabetes.
I found the Paleo diet and started it. I also stopped the statin (and fenofibrate), kept exercising with greater ease. I lost 90lbs which I’ve kept off over the last 2 years. Diabetes disappeared in 3 months with an A1C of 5.0 and FBG 80.
When finding out 6 months into this what I’d done my cardiologist (and GP) admonished me and demanded I restart the statin. I agreed to only go half. I’ve been taking 40mg of Lipitor for the last 2 years.
But I’m still having side effects.
After restrating the statin I’ve gone from muscle pain to weakness and I’m still insulin resistant and my diabetes is only controlled by my low carb diet. I’ve had chronic constipation (which I think started with the statin initially, it just wasn’t as bad) which has been blamed on my “low fiber diet” the last 2 years which requires regular dosing of laxatives. It caused hemorrhoid bleeding which required a colonoscopy and actually found a benign polyp (but nothing else, other than hemorrhoids). I have dizziness and memory loss which is getting worse and on/off blurred vision. My GP and cardiologist explain these complaints as complications from diabetes or my imagination/anxiety.
In trying to research this even further I went to to a lipidologist and had an NMR lipid profile done. Twice over a year. My particle count while nearly ketogenic paleo was 1,400. After increasing carbs at their suggestion and adding Metformin it came down to about 1000. ApoB went from 96 to 72. But insulin went up (from 2 to 7). Both tests showed signs of insulin resistance with chronically low adiponectin (4 then 5 with normal being above 14). All of my inflammation markers are below normal (but I’m obviously not drug naïve).
I didn’t feel increasing carbs and adding another drug to combat the effect for mild improvements in 2 markers was good. I’ve since stopped the Metformin and have returned to lower carb (ketosis) paleo.
My HDL over 2 years of Paleo went from 27 to 50. My Triglycerides from 150 to 33. My total cholesterol has jumped around from 110 – 175. I’ve lost 5 inches off my waistline.
I’m debating stopping the statin again, permanently, and continuing with a near ketogenic paleo diet and hoping for the best. I’m convinced that even at the lower dose the statin is going to give me colon cancer or Alzheimer’s but if I stop it I’ll have another MI and this time not be so lucky and die.
I believe at this point my only hope is to figure out if I’m reversing the disease with ketosis. I had a CMIT done a year ago and it showed heterogeneous disease (0.753, 89th percentile). If I can get that number to go backwards I think I may have evidence that stopping the statin won’t kill me.
But really I have no idea what to do at this point. And posts like this terrify me. Especially statements “The only small group of people who have been shown to benefit from statins are men under 65 who have had a heart attack. But unfortunately that benefit is small.”
This is a dangerous combo that can lead to severe rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of muscle) and is warned against in the package insert of statin drugs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people who should know better put their patients on such combined regimens. But many docs are so focused on what they consider the danger of elevated lipids that they feel the risk their patients take is worth the minimal advantage of prescribing these two classes of drugs together.
You fall into the group of people who do gain some benefit in longevity by taking a statin. But, that benefit is small. And needs to be weight against the cost and side effects of the drug.
Sounds to me like you’re on the right track with the Paleo diet. You need to discuss with your physician before stopping or starting any medications.
Thanks for the reply. Things like this: http://azsunfm.blogspot.com/2012/09/font-definitions-font-face-font-family.html?m=1
Keep me hopeful I’m on the right track too.
Nice papers, both. Thanks for linking.
I had a heart attack at 40 also and it was huge. I’m an anesthesiologist and at the time I was fat and stressed out. It should have killed me. That was 16 years ago. I’ve never taken any western meds for it and I have never had another event. My heart scan proves I have little disease left (CS 42). I have been called the AHA poster boy by my former cardiologist. I believe I have cured it (reversed it) since I used to have severe angina. I have a book I hope to publish which discusses this and other health threats and how I overcame them. (see below)
In fact reading your story I was reminded of how I could have ended up as well following the path of the Commercial Sick Care System as I call it. It Sounds like you are still overweight or smoke since you have HTN? If you drop the pounds and get lean the BP should drop too unless you have hypothyroidism (often missed with a normal TSH). This is what I did (very oversimplified). I lost all the fat and became a gym rat. I eat basically no bread and very little non-fibrous carbs. Some supplements (basic antioxidants) and lots of fruits and veggies blenderized. You need to (get off the Plavix and) get on pharmaceutical grade fish oil-good luck trying to find an integrative cardiologist to help and do not do anything without your docs approval. Go to the IFOS site and get any 5 star rated brand. I take the equiv of 12 caps per day of Zone Labs stuff since my TG used to be over 300. your TG/HDL ratio is great I would not get too excited about the NMR studies. I don’t even check mine anymore. Fasting Insulin = 5 best; TG/HDL =1 or less is best; homocysteine <6; AA/EPA ratio 1.5-2 ideal. Check your oxLDL it's available now as the Triple Marker test.
Hi Dr. Rassumusen, thanks for the reply. I’m slightly overweight still. 190 lbs @ 5’8″ (this is down from a max of 285 lbs 2 years ago. I was 210 lbs when I had the event 5 years ago). I do not use tobacco products anymore. My BP is 120/70. I take 25mg Metoprolol ER per my cardiologist. I have become pretty lean (clothes, jewelry, shoes don’t fit anymore. I’m wearing jeans from high school). I occasionally ride a bicycle 16 miles. I usually walk 1-2 miles a day, briskly. I also supplement Magnesium (600mg) and CoQ10/Ubiquinol 100mg. In the winter (Chicago) Vitamin D3 (in the summer I sunbath 20 mins a day). I’m currently taking a break from 4 grams a day of pharmaceutical grade fish oil. I’m not sure why I’m still being asked to take Plavix 5 years out from stent placement. My cardiologist says to continue. I have 2 drug eluting stents in my RCA and 1 in my Circumflex. The NMR profile said my AA was 13% and my EPA was 4.7%. My focus is reducing what’s left of my abdominal obesity. Ketosis has very effectively leaned out my limbs almost to what appears to be muscle wasting. But abnormal visceral abdominal fat, although reduced, remains. My concerns are increasingly noticeable cognitive problems (short term memory), constipation and apparent inability to gain strength. And the ongoing insulin resistance (which I realize some of is a natural response to ketosis). I’m slightly suspicious of hypothyroid (other than what ketosis may also cause) but so far, over the course of a year and 3 different tests, my results of T3, T4 and TSH all fall in the normal range(s). My other concern regarding statins is that it appears I still have an insulin response and beta cell function however even after coming out of ketosis and normalizing carbs above 50gm or even 100gm my blood sugar elevates way too high for too long. Measured in the past year after a week of “normal” carb eating a single sushi roll will push my glucose to 175mg/dl and not come down below 100mg/dl for at least 4-6 hours. While eating plaeo and staying in or around ketosis with carbs less than 50gm my blood sugar never goes above 100 and usually hovers between 80-90 always. I have been experimenting recently with resistant starch and getting fasting and 3 hour post prandial blood glucose readings in the 70’s (I’ve also been able to reduce some laxative use, but I’m not 100% sure if RS is responsible or could have just cut back/been less aggressive anyway). It’s my take from what I’ve been reading the last 3 years is that some of my metabolic, cognitive and physical problems are now being driven by the statin.
A couple thoughts. I’m 5 7 and 160. You’re 5 8 and 190? Looks like a bit more body fat could come off unless you are very muscular. I would never stop the fish oil personally and I do not think the statin is doing squat although you do fall into that small percentage of people that it can help prevent another CV event. But the toxicity of these statins are too great. Look up Stephane Seneff of MIT and see what she has to say about these toxic materials. You can prevent another heart attack through dietary change. Omega 3’s with lots of fruits and veggies and low grains is more powerful than any statin as the Lyone Heart study showed. The biggest factor is never eating much of the omega 6’s and more omega 3’s which your AA/EPA ratio (good) suggests you are doing. Go to stopthetyroidmadness.com and see how hypothyroidism is diagnosed. You need to check your reverseT3 and freeT3. Another huge factor for you is to get on bioidentical hormones. Testosterone has compelling evidence that when deficient can be a risk factor for heart disease. Proper thyroid levels for you will virtually prevent heart disease. Read Dr Mark Starr’s book on thyroid and you’ll know more about it than any ten docs in Chicago. See a real bioidentical specialist-Body Logic is one such place. There’s one in Milwaukee if not Chi. Your family doc will only get you into trouble or refuse to give you any. In the workup you’ll find out your E2 level which, if high, is a risk for stroke and heart attack too. Once on T join a gym and your insulin sensitivity will return (resistance training). Looks to me like you need to do more varied exercise. It’s hard but in the end well worth it. If you could see the difference between me at my worst and now it’s pretty amazing. I owe a lot to Protein Power which started my entire fitness and fat loss program. I now tell every patient that wishes to lose weight to read it.
Sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things. I can see why you’re reluctant to drop statins entirely, though, given the data.
For an alternative treatment of heart disease, read up on the Pauling theory of heart disease. While rejected by the same medical community that embraced the bankrupt cholesterol theory of heart disease, Pauling’s theory is consistent with recent understanding of how atherosclerosis stems from blood vessel wall damage. The theory ultimately boils down to subclinical vitamin C deficiency resulting in poor collagen formation and blood vessel walls susceptible to damage.
Then, read Denise Minger’s article on wild fruit, with particular attention to ascorbic acid content, which is about 5x higher in wild fruit than in domesticated fruit. You may decide that taking about 1000mg of vitamin C with each whole piece of fruit you eat will help you more than the statins.
You made some good points. I wish more people knew about the relationship with vit C and blood vessel health. I’ve been on the Pauling website and it was there that I learned that they recommend 3 grams vit C BID along with 1 gram L-Lysine BID.
I have recently posted two blogs on statins with at least several more to follow, one per week. I am on year four in my research for my book InflaNATION: Industrial Diners and a Doc in the Box. The site is http://www.inflanation.com.
The impetus for the book comes from my own heart disease and heart attack that I had 16 years ago (I’m 56). I make the bold claim that I cured myself and I have the labs and the heart scan to prove it. It was a long course. I frequent Dr Eades because his book marked the beginning of my transition. He helped be lose over 60 pounds and essentially saved my life. I do not know what may have happened had I not stumbled onto the book. Thanks again Doc! Incidentally I recommend his book for any patient that wishes to lose body fat and every single one of them has lost at least 50 pounds doing it.
I have about 65 blogs out so far. All of them come from various chapters in the book save for one or two. The book is on avoiding the 15 major inflammation generating “things” we Americans like to do to ourselves. I would urge readers to follow the statin series of blogs that I’m currently doing. I have put in hundreds of hours on it with about 200 references.
Sometimes I’m ashamed to be part of the medical profession when I see such a fraudulent use of statins. From my own history and compelling research evidence I can say that only lifestyle changes will cure you of heart disease not a statin or any other pill. For some that may be a very tall order but I doubt if many out there were sicker than I was. I had angina so bad that I couldn’t walk up 2 flights of stairs without setting my chest on fire!
Now I have a six pack abdomen and routinely-like yesterday-do intervals reaching a peak HR of 160 no problem. I could go higher as I have with absolutely no chest pain. My last heart scan had a CAC score or 42. The next two blogs will discuss that and some other cool things.
Have you read Minger’s comments on wheat and heart disease? That’s a good one which I quote in the book.
Dr. Eades What about the risk of pancreatitis related to elevated lipids in people with familial hyperlipidemia? Are statins appropriate for them?
I. myself, would treat them carefully (for both the pancreatitis and the hyperlipidemia) with a low-carb, mod-fat diet. But, aside from that, it’s a matter of risk reward. Familial hyperlipidemia is one of the few indications for statins, if other therapeutic regimens fail.
“Now you know why those docs were so adamant you take a statin. Many had to meet their quotas to keep getting Big Pharma swag.”
Often there are certain “quality control” measures that are now being tracked in practices, docking physicians for not following certain standards of care, one of them putting people with diabetes, etc. on statins. Large managed care systems are particularly keen about this process, and doctors don’t stop getting “Big Pharma Swag” (I would say doctors in these systems are more likely than others except in academia to be forbidden to meet with drug reps, and most “swag” is now illegal.), the doctors can face reprimands or be fired for failing to meet these “quality care measures” and certain patient satisfaction measures. They keep trying to get metrics in psychiatry to do this sort of process (not with statins, but with using depression measures and always adding antidepressants for certain measures, etc), but we remain somewhat free of absolutes for now.
Thanks for the clarification.
I recognized Paul Zimmet as one of the “statinators” cited in the article you referenced in your first paragraph, and I know him as a T2DM researcher and was surprised.
Gary Taubes interviewed him for Science in this:
Reviewing the above interview, I noticed that Zimmet has worked closely with Scott Grundy — ahah!
Dr. Eades, I was on Questran (cholestyramine) for over 10 years to control chronic, severe diarrhea after gall bladder removal. It worked, so I kept taking it. However, I was barely able to get out of bed due to severe muscle pain, which my doctor incorrectly diagnosed as fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed after the 10 years with diabetes. I stopped taking it and changed my diet to low carb, lost 130 lbs., no more high bloodpressure, no more diarrhea, normal fasting blood glucose of 86, down from 190, normal a1c of 5.5, down from 9.3. However, the diabetes wasn’t “cured”, I have it under tight control. There is no diabetes in my family. I continue to have slight elevations in microalbumin, so I’m lucky to have escaped full blown kidney failure. My cholesterol is 233, down from over 400, which I’m not the least bit concerned about, and if any doctor EVER recommends a statin to me again, they’re fired. I am unfortunately unable
to find an enlightened doctor, so I tell them whatever they want to give me results in hives, as I do have lots of drug allergies.
Did you also take a statin? Questran is not a statin – it is from a different class of drugs called fibrates.
I thought Questran was a bile-acid sequestrant, not a fibrate.
You are absolutely correct. I went back to the comment in question to check. When I read it the first time, I (for whatever reason) read it as clofibrate, not cholestyramine. Thanks for the heads up. Makes me wonder what else I misread today.
I think I was still in fibrate mode from a comment above, which was about fibrates.
I have a disabled sister in Michigan (I’ve written to you about her before), and I finally got her a new doctor. Just last week I was in Michigan, and we took her to 3 different doctors (all MDs, one of which was in an “integrative wellness” medical center).
She is currently on 10 mg of simvastatin, which is apparently a very low dose. I asked all 3 candidates about statins, and they all “loved” the statin drugs. “So protective!” they all said. I brought up the fact that there have been no studies showing any benefit for women over 50 (my sister is 64), and they said that meant nothing. They insisted the statins were necessary.
At least the doctor we finally chose said she would check her cholesterol again and see if the statin was still needed. She also mentioned that she might switch her to a new statin drug that had fewer side effects, though I can’t remember the name.
I only wish the word would spread faster. I fear it will take longer to change the minds of mainstream doctors regarding statins than it will to change their minds regarding adopting the low-carb lifestyle for diabetes.
Actually, the data show no advantage to women in terms of all-cause mortality reduction irrespective of age.
Dr Eades is correct. There is a linear positive inverse relationship with cholesterol, women and heart disease. That is to say that cholesterol is protective in women (and the elderly).
I am currently blogging on statins. Go to http://www.inflaNATION.com and search the last two blogs (with more to come). You will be shocked I promise.
The one thing I simply do not understand is why only Dr Eades, myself and a few others know the truth about these dangerous drugs. Why the heck doesn’t the medical community in general know this? It’s all in the literature right there to read.
It’s a rhetorical question. I actually do know why. Most docs rely on their drug reps to inform them. Yes, scary I agree!
They don’t want to know near as I can tell.
I used to think that the fundamental motivators of human behavior were money and sex. Then I finally figured out that sex could be purchased so the only motivator is wealth, a concept that subsumes money, and wealth is power in all human cultures.
The next part of the problem is that a person who has invested a whole career in one viewpoint will be extremely reluctant to admit they might have been wrong. To do so could cost them their career.
The only solution is for each of us to take 100% responsibility for our own health and treat each “expert” as an advisor.
In about 1957 the Boy Scout magazine “Boy’s Life” had a definition of “expert” I still find amusing – X is an unknown quantity, spert is a drop under pressure so an Xpert is an unknown drip under pressure. That is, we shouldn’t let others do our thinking for us, especially when their motivation is no more their own bank account.
Discussions such as this blog are clearly much larger.
I have not taken statins, but perhaps my experience confirms what you are saying. I am 66 years old. Five years ago, my doctor said my cholesterol was too high (233 mg/dl) and he could put me on a statin and monitor my liver or at least take niacin. I was shocked. The first thing I did was go to some CDC data and found out that for a 66 year old male I was right in the middle of the distribution. Why would any doctor recommend taking a drug if you were average? It made on sense.
I am a retired engineer and I never read a diet book, or medical or nutrition book in my life. My BMI was about 24. I new that my mother at age 78 was prescribed statins and after a while she could not even get out of bed. My brother is a registered nurse who monitors my mother’s care and he told the doctor not to give her statins, and not even to bring the subject up in the future. My mother is now 89, and has a problem with memory, but on the plus side she did survive the statins.
In my own case I went full steam ahead following the nutritional boilerplate offered up by Kaiser (minimize fat, maximize carbs) and eat from the prescribed list of cholesterol lowering foods. And yes I walked six miles a day, rode my bike 50-60 miles every ten days, and even lifted weights. What was the result? I gained weight, and triglycerides as well as my LDL-C rose. I don’t know what the LDL-P was doing because at that time I new nothing about nutrition or lipoproteins. Apparently, neither did my doctor.
Without reading anything I came to the conclusion that what was prescribed did not work and was basically a scam. I decided to go back to eating the way we ate when I was growing up. If you subtract the junk food you end up with a high fat, low carb diet. We drank real milk, ate real butter, real cheese, a modest amount of fruit, and meat for protein. All of the no-fat, low-fat, processed stuff basically did not exist yet. Margarine, and hydrogenated vegetable oil was coming along, but mostly we avoided that. My mother cooked with lard, out of a big, blue can.
Eventually, I stumbled on to Atkins, Lustig, Peter Attia, Taubes, Volek and Phinney, Perlmutter among many others. I actually know what a lipoprotein is at this point; I pay for an NMR Lipofile out of pocket because Kaiser will not provide it.
I won’t go into detail, but my BMI is now 22 and my athletic ability is closer to what it was 20 years ago. 75% of my diet is fat. Instead of consuming 150 pounds of sugar per year I am closer to 1.5 pounds. Carbs average about 50g per day and are very specific.
The changes in my lipid profile were quite drastic. In fact, they are probably quite close to what was sought by my doctor when he said I had a problem. Isn’t that ironic.
At this point I am done worrying about cholesterol. The only utility of an NMR Lipofile might be as offering an indication that you are becoming insulin resistant, but if that is what is desired why not just look at the fasting insulin level. My doctor could not discuss an NMR lipofile.
What I have come away with from my experience is that the saturated fat hypothesis a decade ago resulted in a wholesale restructuring of the food supply, not to mention a brainwashing of the population with regard to fat, especially saturated fat. The result is the biggest public health blunder of the 20th century, and it will continue unabated for decades – metabolic syndrome and everything that goes with it.
The next thing I am fairly confident of is that statins and their abuse by the medical profession at large will lead to the biggest public health blunder of the 21st century. I view statins a lot like smoking. The effects are deadly, but they may not show up for many years. It is not inconceivable that a lot of elderly people would not have succumbed to dementia or Alzheimers if they had not been on statins. Statins are even given to children, and that is unbelievable.
If the tort lawyers ever manage to get the ammo, and the mainstream media goes along with it, statins will be gone along with the companies that produce them. It will make asbestos litigation look like an insignificant warm up.
I think you have figured it out. Which is why I love to hear from my fellow engineers (I was a civil engineer for about 6 years before I went to medical school.) Congratulations on your great success!
Both Wil and I were dumped by a doctor who actually sent out letters saying, “You are risking sudden death by stroke or heart attack by your refusal to treat this dangerous condition!” (I.e., the so-called high cholesterol). He totaled dismissed any beneficial effects of LC, also. The only thing to do was take statins!
Glad he dumped us because the effect of his lectures and general belligerence was not good for my blood pressure….
This treat-the-numbers, not-the-disease thing is exactly what today’s thyroid patients face as well. Since doctors began relying on TSH levels to tell them if a patient is in the normal range, they stopped relying on patient well-being as their guide, and now many hypothyroid patients suffer with a variety of symptoms that were not an issue in the era before by-the-numbers medicine.
I have Hashimoto’s, and due to the TSH religion I’ve been forced to become a pocket expert on hypothyroidism. I’ve read reams of material, mostly from the Journal of Endocrinology, which supports the treat-the-patient philosophy of medicine. But that data is unknown to most doctors, or is pooh-pooh’d: Regarding studies on TSH-based dosage vs patient well-being (and the lack of correlation with TSH levels in many cases), and the difference in response between natural and synthetic thyroid replacement for many patients, the Journal of the AMA said, I quote, “but we don’t believe patients know how they feel.”
I don’t think it’s coincidental that the only medication currently more profitable than statins, is synthetic T4 (thyroid hormone).
Thanks Dr. Eades: My cardiologist put me on statins in 2001 because of family history of heart attacks on both sides, and because of a 220 chol and 110 LDL, and 225 lb weight with 6foot height. In Feb 2003, I saw Dr. Atkins on Larry King Live and went low carb, still on it today, thanks in large part to your books and advice. I have had peripheral neuropathy which after countless testing by neurologists has never been linked to any known source – of course I believe the statins caused the harm. Since I lost 50 lbs in two years on low carb and have kept it off for 12 years, I have fabulous chol and LDL and HDL and triglyceride numbers which the Cardiologist attributes to the 20 mg pravachol. I did go off of it years ago, and was in fact told that if I don’t follow the advice to take them, I would be dropped. Thanks again.
Thanks for the medical history. I’m glad to learn you’re doing so well.
Thanks for the recommendation and video, Dr. Eades. I recently read a review of the book, “How statin drugs really lower cholesterol: and kill you one cell at a time”.by James and Hannah Yoseph that apparently contains some explosive revelations about statins and the politicking that goes on in some groups and associations concerned with cholesterol. The review can be found on Zoe Harcombes site. It blew my mind….
I’ve yet to read this book. In fact, haven’t heard of it until your mention. I’ll track it down. Thanks.
Thanks a lot for the reply, much appreciated. I very much enjoy the blog.
I’ve been low-carbing for about 1 year and in ketosis for about 6 months. Basically, you gave me what I needed – some back-up. It’s great to read the literature, test yourself and follow the results, but it’s really hard to stick to your guns when you’ve got two professionals implying one is an idiot.
Frankly, I feel great both mentally and physically on a low-carb diet, plus we’ve got a history of type 2 diabetes in the family. I’d rather not start buggering around with Statins. Will keep you posted. Keep up the good work.
PS. One way I can tell (but the TSH numbers can’t) that I need to increase my thyroid dosage a little is that I crave sweets, or any sort of readily-available carbs.
A very powerful Catalyst episode, Dr. Eades. I’m grateful that medical professionals, like yourself and the people interviewed in the show, are willing to step up in the face of so much entrenched resistance, and state your point of view with such clarity.
I spent a 20-year career in the pharmaceutical industry as a research scientist (diabetes and obesity) and I have seen drug development from the inside out. The general feeling of the rank-and-file within drug companies is that we serve an important need…that our life’s work matters. But I have seen how carefully clinical trials are designed, to improve the chances that side effects will be mitigated. It’s discusses openly within pharma.
I was a graduate student in the Department of Nutrition at UC Berkeley in the late 70’s/early 80’s when the causal relationship between serum cholesterol and cardiovascular disease was still being disputed by the research community. Even with so many academics expressing uncertainty about the theory, around that time, the USDA somehow reached the conclusion that fat was bad, the food pyramid was borne, and cholesterol/CVD association became dogma.
My own health story…I had cholesterol that was well controlled by statins, but I have a husband who was heading for overt diabetes, so we decided to try the low carb lifestyle. That was a year ago. Since then we have both benefited in countless ways from cutting out the carbs. My total cholesterol skyrocketed, but so did my HDL and large LDL. My doctor was at first incredulous that I would give up my great lab numbers. But I’m comfortable talking about the science with him, and stood my ground. We currently have a truce, he advises that I get back on the statins, but supports my self-determination to live drug-free. He also warned me it will be another decade before the research catches up and validates my choice. He probably had to say that…I understand. The Catalyst episode I just watched convinces me that I’ve made the right decision. Profound thanks for all your efforts, Dr. Eades.
Thank you for the interesting and enlightening insights into the behind-the-scenes thinking in the pharmaceutical industry. I’m glad you dug your heels in with your doc, and I’m really glad you’ve enjoyed this blog.
Hi – first, can I thank you for your hard work in the comments. I appreciate how time consuming it can be.
I was interested to note Dr Curtis’s quote at the end of your blog post which mentions drinking extra water. Other than the numerous fluff articles out there, are you aware of any studies that show benefits to health of drinking water. My dad is of the belief that a cup of tea a day is enough liquid for him! He has health problems so it would be nice to put some evidence his way. He’s a bit stubborn. LOL!
Basically, the point Dr. Curtis was making is that the same type of epidemiology studies that showed a benefit to statins also showed a benefit to low-does aspirin and drinking several glasses of water daily. I would think his real point, at least the one I took away, is that if you believe statins are beneficial based on the evidence available, then you’ve got to believe low-dose aspirin and drinking 3-4 classes of water per day is even more beneficial because the studies showing these benefits are the same. If you believe one, then you’ve got to believe them all. If you believe them all, then aspirin and daily water consumption are more potent than statins at preventing heart disease.
A summary of the two catalyst TV productions
Thanks for this link. Nice summary.
Hello and thanks for the post. This series is invaluable, and eventually, the world will get to the truth about cholesterol and cholesterol-lowering medications. Hopefully sooner than later. I have been saying this stuff for years to my family and friends, who have looked at me as if I’m a a little crazy.
One thing that I don’t see often enough is how, exactly, we got to these official recommendations of having a cholesterol level of <200, There is absolutely no science behind it as you might suspect, only special interests. The rec's used to be <240 but there is a really fine anecdote circulating from Mary Enig PhD (a lipid scientist affiliated with the Weston A. Price Foundation) and Sally Fallon, a dietician that is totally shocking. Apparently, in 1984 there was a cholesterol conference to determine appropriate guidelines, and the doctors/scientists involved showed up with reports with BLANKS for the recommendations. There was no data. However, Enig (or Fallon, I can't remember who) overheard a conversation in which the fine doctors in charge decided to make the rec's of 200 NOT because it would help anyone but because if they didn't they wouldn't have enough grant money from Congress to conduct their studies on cholesterol. There just wouldn't be enough people to be tested if they set the limits at 240. I swear to God this is true, and you have only to look on the Weston Price site to find this precious anecdote to show that current cholesterol recommendations are not based upon scientific evidence AT ALL. Merely the desires of a certain group to get money for a study.
That is just unforgivable!!! And now that this is the third or fourth time I have read this bit if information, I will use it as part of my reason to not take statins. EVER. And to let my daughter, and cousin, know that their levels are not as bad as they feared.
I’ll bet “the powers that be” kept lowering the recommended levels from the 300’s for the same darn disgusting greedy reason.
What are your thoughts on low cholesterol? Last time it was checked, mine was 135. This was after some months on a saturated fat fest, no statins or any other drugs. (The LC diet raised TC by 5 points.) I’m 44 years old, not violent or depressed. No health problems except for a lifelong vulnerability to upper respiratory infections. Thanks!
I think some people run low cholesterol levels normally just as some do high ones. Were I you, I would do nothing. Increased saturated fat intake will bump up cholesterol a little as you have shown in your own case.
A few months back my husband and I had drinks with our new neighbour who just happens to be a cardiologist. Somehow the conversation turned to diet and health and he sorted of just blurted out (extreme paraphrasing here) “that everything they thought they knew about cholesterol, fish oil and even Vit D was all nonsense”. The conversation quickly changed to another topic and I didn’t get to discuss his views further. I was most interested in the Vit D comment and assume he was talking about supplements, not the real thing. Comments?
I couldn’t begin to parse what his thoughts might have been. Re vitamin D, he may have been thinking about the fact that everyone used to worry about overdosing on it, and now, it’s been shown that that is possible but unlikely. Who knows?
Thanks for the blog Dr E. Had always refused cholesterol testing at my infrequent visits to the physician but then had an NSTEMI at age 50. Five stents emplaced. Put onto Lipitor (TC 5.5mmol/L) and other drugs. A few weeks later I had severe hives and joint pain. Taken off the Lipitor and Metoprolol. Next cardiologist visit he put me on Crestor but the joint pain (right knee so bad that squatting and climbing stairs were excruciating and walking unpleasant). Took myself off that and refused all statins, opting for high dose nicotinic acid.
I also adopted a paleo diet which freaked out my cardiologist. He referred me to a lipidologist – the very David Sullivan featured in Demassi’s story. He had nothing but the standard approach, with his dietician recommending oats, cholesterol lowering milk, Flora margarine and chia seeds. I declined a second consultation
Four years drug free and I’ve never been in better health, exercise well without pain or injury, am a steady 71kg @180cm with TC 7.5, HDL 2.2, ApoB 1.15, and ApoA1 2.14, ratio 0.54. Statins be damned
Congratulations on your fine results! Looks like you’re on the right track. Keep after it.
While visiting my 85 year old mother in Sept, she complained about pain in her leg which made it impossible to sleep. She was nearly bedridden, she hurt so bad. We sat down and went through her medications and immediately statins came up. Her doctor had recently put her on the drug, even though Mom had protested, arguing that our whole family has higher cholesteral levels than are considered “normal.” I do too, but only since quiting alcohol in ’88. I drank to excess for many years and my cholesteral was sub-normal. When I stopped boozing, my levels shot up to 220 or so and stayed there, even on a low cholesteral diet. When a doctor recommended statins in the early 90’s, I rejected them out of hand telling him that it was obvious to me that was where my system without drink was stable. In later years I learned my whole family “suffers” from this condition.
After a couple of days of NOT taking the drugs, Mom’s pain went away and she’s been fine ever since. She now is convinced that statins killed her older sister.
This makes me wonder how many other drugs have been foisted on a fearful public, which do more harm than good? My wife and I take no prescribed meds, even though she suffers from idiopic neuropathy and I from arthritis and various ailments associated with aging – only vitamins and various natural supplements. She’s 60, I’m 64 and I don’t think it’s coincidence that we are much healthier than our peer group, who seem to be constantly running in to the doctor for more prescriptions, yet steadily declining physically.
When diet, exercise and faith can improve one’s health, why on earth would anyone take poison? That’s what a very wise doctor told me once, that prescibed meds are nothing but poison requiring other poisons to conteract their negative side affects. There is a boat load of natural substances which were very affective historically for every malady you can name, but today’s medical establishment is enthralled with modern drugs.
IMO once a person gets on the pill pushers’ descending spiral, the end comes sooner, not later.
I totally agree. That IS a very wise doctor who told you that. I just wish more were like that one.
I have to agree with your mother, also. I am so sorry about your aunt, but so glad you could help your mom.
My cousin is on the darned things, undergoing a study about genetics, and statin side effects. My hubby has “borderline h.c.and got put on them. No side effects, thankfully.. I have finally convinced him to talk with his doctor about stopping them. Mine has been just over 200, but in the 1984 normal range. Our oldest daughter is a bit higher. I feel when she loses the weight she wants to, that will correct itself. Her baby just turned one.
I have been refusing statins ever since they started pushing them on me. I already use three asthma meds and thyroid. Why would I want to add any more? Also, I’m 58, ten years into the age bracket that high cholesterol is known to protect.
I like your user name…Remaster. WE are the masters of our road in life.
Dr. Eades, I have a “Million Dollar Question” that no one has been able to answer: How do I know when my Husband should quit taking Crestor? The documentary is fabulous, and distills what I have been researching for months. My husband has had TIA’s, but no heart attack. He has Metabolic Syndrome, Predominant dense pattern B LDL, Low HDL, & ~ 50 more lbs. to lose. Through 2 months of strict Paleo diet (Really, Paleo/ Keto to eliminate hunger) & exercise, his Triglycerides have dropped from 197 to 119 and Serum Glucose from 135 to 124. (It works!!)! Strangely, his LDL dropped from 34 to an even more scary 30. (He is & has been on Niaspan for years). Also, his TTL. Cholesterol is 121, which seems dangerously low. So, when to take him off the Statin? I wonder if we should wait until his markers improve more, since he is committed to Paleo. I lack the knowledge to confidently make this decision, and there are no Paleo M.D.’s in our area. (I have checked Paleo Physicians Network…). I am hoping you can offer some guidance on his situation & I’m sure, a similar situation for many others. Thanks SO much, Dr Eades!!
I’m sorry, but I can’t possibly make medical recommendations to patients whom I have never seen over the internet. I don’t even know your husband’s age much less anything else about him. And even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to make drug-change or discontinuance recommendations without actually examining him, looking over his list of medications, medical history, etc.
Dr. Eades, I understand, and I really appreciate your taking the time to comment.
Thanks for your understanding. The various state medical boards are really ticky with docs doing online medicine with patients they’ve never seen. Can get one into big trouble.
He hasn’t had a heart attack, so he’s not in a group that would see a reduction in all cause mortality from statins. In addition, statins are probably contributing to the cholesterol levels that are well below the ideal. If I were him, I would get off the statins now.
I’d drop the Niaspan too. On a paleo diet, he gets plenty of niacin from his meat.
Well, I found out that my Husband decided to stop his Crestor ~ 3 weeks ago without telling me. He is already noticing some return of mental clarity. I am also hoping that his HDL of 30 will start to increase now! I know that exercise & saturated fats raise HDL. (In addition to the sat. fats from grass-fed beef… he eats 2 tbsp of coconut oil a day). Any additional suggestions for raising HDL everyone?
The most shocking part of this video for me was learning that drug companies screen out people who have side effects from their drugs, so that the drug trial shows fewer side effects.
Your blog is the best.
Thanks very much.
Here’s a hypothetical situation I don’t understand. Let’s assume a 62-year-old male patient named Alphonse is overweight (BMI 29), type 2 diabetes (A1c of 7), and high blood pressure (160/90). He’s a computer programmer and doesn’t get any exercise. He doesn’t smoke.
His total cholesterol is 500, and his HDL is 45. TGs 150.
Alphonse has just been Dx’d so he’s not on any diabetes medication.
His wife reads about health on the Internet, and they’ve been on a “lowish carb” diet with 60-100 g CHO per day. They’re not strict when they visit friends. He’s sometimes in mild ketosis, sometimes not.
Many assume that someone with diabetes has the same risk as someone who has already had a heart attack. And he’s in the under-65 male category that seems to be helped by statins if they’ve already had a cardiac event.
So should Alphonse take a statin? As he’s hypothetical, I hope you’re allowed to answer the question.
If this hypothetical Alphonse were my patient, I would not put him on a statin? Why not? Because he’s already diabetic, and statins have been shown to actually cause diabetes, which doubtless means statins will ultimately be shown to worsen diabetes. So I would be reluctant to put a patient with diabetes on a statin even though such patients are at increased risk for heart disease. Increased risk for heart disease is different than having actually had heart disease. The only group to have shown benefit in terms of reduction in all-cause mortality is the group of men under 65 who have actually had a heart attack, not those who were at increased risk.
Also, looks to me like all of Alphonse’s problems could be solved with a little more attention to diet. This therapeutic strategy would come without any side effects.
Finally, if Alphonse is the kind of guy who says, hey, I just want to live my life and eat what I want, just give me a pill to cover for my lifestyle, then he doesn’t want me as his doctor.
Thanks. I’m not sure I believe statins cause diabetes any more than I believe that eating fat causes heart disease. There are just too many variables among the patients in all these huge trials, patient selection is often biased, and trial selection for meta-analyses is also often biased. Even the definition of “diabetes” can vary from trial to trial.
That West of Scotland study showed that statins reduced the incidence of diabetes.
But I haven’t studied any of these big trials in detail for the reasons above: too many variables and often some of the factors aren’t even specified in the full text.
I’m much more interested in *why* statins could contribute to diabetes, and most articles say no one knows. The following article has a graph that purports to show a mechanism, but I’m not about to pay $32 to read the full text and references aren’t with Abstract:
However, your comment that statins haven’t been shown to help in men under 65 who just have risk factors, not actual events, is useful. Unfortunately, “hasn’t been shown” doesn’t always mean “isn’t true.” Sometimes it just means “hasn’t been studied.”
For years physicians were telling diabetic patients there was no evidence that complications were caused by high blood sugar, and they were right. There was no evidence. Then they finished the DCCT and the evidence was clear.
If I were a physician (and I’m not) and Alphonse came to me, I’d try a LC diet first if he was willing and able to do that. If that didn’t work and we both thought his cholesterol was too high, I wouldn’t prescribe a statin, because if you’re on a LC diet, you’re probably getting plenty of cholesterol in your diet and we know statins can have bad side effects.
Instead I’d try Zetia, which works on dietary cholesterol. It might turn out to have horrendous side effects, but we don’t know yet.
I was in a statin study at Joslin, comparing Zocor and Lipitor (the Zocor people were hoping that Zocor, which didn’t reduce cholesterol as much as Lipitor, would work better in people with diabetes). At the maximum amount of Lipitor, my LDL didn’t change from baseline. My HDL did go up to 72.
For the study, they told me to follow the old Food Pyramid, but I said I wouldn’t be in the study if I had to follow that ridiculous way of eating, so they said, “That’s OK. Low-fat diets don’t have much effect on cholesterol anyway.”
I stopped the statin when the study was over, and I’m not sorry I was in it, as I got information about apoA and apoB levels as well as some other things not commonly measured.
I’ve never seen the study published, probably because it showed that Lipitor worked better than Zocor, which was the opposite of what the Zocor people wanted to show. That’s another reason I don’t believe the results of this type of study.
Thanks for your input about Alphonse.
See the last paragraph in the WOSCOPS study. Says it all – it’s an observational study and shows no causality.
Since this study was done a while back, I took a look to see if the results of the PROSPER study were in. Indeed they were. And they show exactly the same thing all the other statin studies show: No decrease in all-cause mortality.
I pulled the paper you were unable to get (or didn’t want to fork over the $32 for). Here is the conclusion:
They do go on to say that this shouldn’t dissuade anyone at high risk from going on statins because of their lifesaving abilities, which shows (to me, at least) an abysmal lack of familiariy with the scientific literature on statins. Or, more likely, the journal forced them to say it as a condition of getting published.
Of course, “suggests that” and “associated with” suggest to me that the evidence isn’t overwhelming. However, I thought of a reason beyond biochemical why statin usage might be associated with an increase in diabetes.
The average unenlightened physician seeing a patient with high cholesterol will prescribe two things: a statin and a low-fat diet. On the low-fat diet, the patient is constantly hungry and snacks on lots of “healthy” low-fat high-carb foods (I know a man who was on a low-fat diet for diabetes and his kitchen was lined with boxes of breakfast cereal because his dietician told him that made a good snack). The high carbs increase blood glucose levels, and this contributes to diabetes onset, especially in those who already have metabolic syndrome. This would be reflected in the statistics.
Thanks for pulling out that quote.
Re your speculation…
In the studies, subjects went on the same diet with a statin and with placebo. Greater incidence of diabetes with the statin.
Dang! Another brilliant interpretation hits the dust.
I feel your pain. Mine bite the dust with great regularity.
The PDF is free to download.
I think you’re getting studies mixed up. There’s another WOSCOPS study that appears to be a randomized clinical trial among middle-aged men with hypercholesterolemia (272+/-23).
It shows a suggestive but inconclusive reduction in all-cause mortality for patients on pravastatin. (p-value= 0.051)
But your point still stands: the fact that the mean cholesterol level among study subjects was so high and the benefit was still not statistically significant in a study with 6,000 subjects suggests that statins are being over-prescribed, especially if they turn out to have the risks you suggest.
Just learned that my mother’s doctor prescribed Lipitor for her. She is 90 years old and has never been on statin before. Feel like if she had taken her cat with her, it might have ended on up Lipitor, also! Mad as hell.
I’ve been making my way through all the individuals interviews available on their web site and it’s more compelling in many ways than the piece itself. It’s true that the producers of the show exhibited courage in going ahead with the show, despite strong opposition. On the other hand, pulling it would have been against everything real journalists stand for. Going over the interviews, I can see how the show producers would have been blown away by this information. You can’t kill an explosive piece like this and still consider yourself a journalist with any sort of ethics.
This is a statement from the people who were trying to get the piece killed :
“…what we saw on Maryanne Demasi’s report, was a series of anecdotes from, I think what would be broadly termed fringe-dwelling scientists or people who weren’t actually scientists, criticising things about the cholesterol myth.
Did you know that all the doctors interviewed in this piece, including yourself, are fringe-dwelling scientists ? Nice bit of ad hominem there which pretty much invalidates anything else she has to say. However I’m curious about this : “We have overwhelming evidence from studies of over 900,000 participants showing a strong and graded increase in the risk of heart disease with increasing cholesterol levels,” .
What studies is she referring to ? I’m curious to see what particular kool-aid she is partaking of, since I’ve always heard that there are NO studies that show any sort of relationship between heart disease and cholesterol levels.
As someone on Twitter said about the “fringe-dwelling” quote:
Which pretty much sums up how I feel about it.
As to the “900,000 participants showing a strong and graded increase in heart disease…” That is obfuscation to the nth degree. There have been studies showing a correlation between elevated LDL levels and heart disease, but correlation is not causation. All the big multi-hundred million dollar studies designed by all the same clowns to demonstrate that diet and/or elevated cholesterol causes heart disease have blown up in their collective faces. You’ve got the Coronary Club study way back in the 1960s along with MR FIT, the Lipid Research Clinicc Coronary Primary Prevention Trial, the Helsinki Heart Study, the Women’s Health Initiative and the Look AHEAD study (about which I recently posted) – all were busts. But they keep trying. With your tax dollars.
For years, these guys have been able to say whatever they want with impunity because no one other than a bunch of low-carb bloggers would take them to task. Now this documentary along with a few follow ups are shining the spotlight on their prevarications.
I was thrilled to see the ABC Catalyst program go to air with the information they had collected (even in a much edited form) but it is wrong I believe to credit them with being the first to do so…… http://www.statinnation.net/blog/
I do not want to see an all out war on who said what and when… I would much rather see all these entities come together and be a real force to reckon with……
ANd Dr. Eades I thank you sincerely for your contribution.
My Endocrinologist told me she could no longer be my doctor since I refused to take any statins. She was so angry she was shaking. That was 5 years ago.
I am still refusing statins and ask them to explain my low triglycerides (46). I lost 80# over 4 years and have kept it off due to adhering to Protein Power way of eating.
I still can’t believe docs would actually act like that. But I’ve heard enough reports to make me convinced they do.
Forgot to add that i have kept the weight off for almost 10 years.
What about a male who has had 2 quadruple bypasses, one at age 42 and the second one at age 56? He’s now 70 and eating mostly low carb, but not 100%, with an A1c of at least 5.8 (his cardiologist doesn’t always check this, which is pretty astounding). What is the rule of thumb for the elderly, secondary preventive?
As far as I know, there is no rule. Since you had your heart disease when you were under 65, I would say you would fall into the group who do receive some benefit from statins.
thank you very kindly.
Thankyou soooo much for all your information – It has come at a great time for me as struggling with Dr’s pushing statins and making me feel that if I don’t take them I will surely die from a stroke or heart attack.. I’m 48 and diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in January this year. I have been working hard to improve my lifestyle with more exercise and eating better – have lost 11 kgs and was feeling great.. Bsl’s improved and diabetes side of things Dr happy with – BUT said my Cholesterol was too high. ( I was really disappointed as was feeling so good ! )
She has put me on ‘ Simvastatin’ 5mg – I rang to discuss side effects of muscle aches and pains & could hear the sarcasm in her voice.. telling me to come back and we would try something else.. Next was ‘ Pravastatin ’20mg – same symptoms – only worse as she wanted me to try it for longer and said it ‘ worked differently ‘ I ended up with almost debilitating lower back pain like I’ve never experienced in my whole life..
Next.. ‘ Rosuvastatin ‘ 5mg – said this should be better as my mother was taking it..?? Same symptoms …
Next… Questran Lite ( Cholestyramine resin ) – Dr told me there would be NO side effects..
I have given it a good go for nearly 3 weeks but the lower back pain and pains in my thighs has returned along with constipation / tiredness / embarrassing flatulence / a jittery feeling and trouble sleeping.
So I have now stopped that too which I’m sure my Dr will not be happy with when I see her next..
OH what to do ? I watched my Grandmother die of a stroke just recently & it wasn’t something I would wish on anyone..
I would appreciate any advice..
This is not advice, simply statement of fact. No study has ever shown an improvement in all-cause mortality in women of any age from taking a statin.
Wow Samantha, your story is almost identical to the horrible series of visits I had with an endocrinologist I was referred to when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. She was adamant to put me on a statin, and when I told her that no study had ever shown an improvement in all-cause mortality for women when they took statins she told me I was wrong and she could point to dozens of studies! (not that she actually did). I also had high HDL and super-low triglycerides which she said was immaterial, and my high TC and LDL were the only things that mattered and I needed a statin ASAP. We would fight and argue every visit. I’m surprised she didn’t fire me as a patient!
I wanted to try Armour thyroid as my reading had indicated that the high cholesterol could be caused by faulty T4-T3 conversion, and T4-only Synthroid doesn’t work in that case. But she freaked out saying she was a DOCTOR, DAMMIT, and would never put a patient on a drug she considered highly dangerous, as she did Armour thyroid (though statins were fine of course).
Incidentally, after 18 months of trying it her was, on Synthroid, where my cholesterol continued to go up and up, I finally found a nurse-practitioner willing to prescribe me Armour. In *six weeks* on Armour my TC dropped from 296 to 191, and my LDL from 218 to 110 – with HDL and Tri remaining good. Numbers have remained stable in the several years since then while on Armour.
To be honest, in retrospect I blame statins for my dad’s death. At age 75 he was still a big, hale and hearty man – but his doctor put him on Lipitor due to slightly elevated cholesterol (about 220 or so). Withing months he went from a hale, hearty man to an aged and weak man, suffering severe muscle pain, having trouble walking, developed congestive heart failure. I was unenlightened back in those days and didn’t make the connection with the meds.
My sister, God bless her, did some research and decided Lipitor was the culprit. She tried to talk my dad into stopping it, but he was of the old school who believed that “if doctor says” it must be right. So, again bless her, she went to see his cardiologist and just about browbeat him into agreeing to stop the prescription.
Dad got a little better after that. But he never again because the hale and hearty man he had been before Lipitor. He remained old and frail. He died shortly before his 82nd birthday, so did have a few more years. But I still feel that Lipitor prescription was the beginning of his end.
I’m not surprised that the statin killed your Dad. There is already compelling evidence that they cause heart failure along with hundreds of other adverse effects. Of course your doc should have known that high cholesterol is protective in the elderly but I guess his Drug Rep never told him that.
Your thyroid story is virtually identical to mine only my LDL dropped to under 100mg/dl. I love my pig thyroid! Fish oil and low carbs dropped the TG to under 100 also.
I have several postings on statins with several more to follow. Two of them will be summaries on just who, if anyone, these drugs benefit etc. It’s all from a book I’m working on. If you like please check it out at http://www.inflaNATION.com. Good luck.
You might find this article interesting if you aren’t already aware of it:
Saw this earlier, meant to tweet it out and forgot. Thanks for the reminder.
Thank you so much for the excellent information you have provided both through your books and this blog. You asked us to share our story if we have a doctor who is trying to get us to take statins, so here is my story.
I am a 60 year old male. I am taking 25 mg daily of Atenolol for high blood pressure and my weight has been creeping up so I was concerned about that, but otherwise, I am pretty healthy and have never had a heart attack (thankfully). In June of this year, I made an appointment with my doctor for my annual physical.
After my appointment, I was sent to the lab to get the standard tests performed. That was on June 25, 2013.
HDL CHOLESTEROL: 44
LDL CHOLESTEROL: 129
CHOL/HDL RATIO: 4.8
Blood Pressure: 140/85
I had a spot on my liver a couple of years earlier, so she also scheduled a follow-up ultrasound to check that.
When she contacted me about the results she stated: “Please come in to discuss this – I think you would benefit from starting a medication.”
The ultrasound showed no change in the spot, but it did show symptoms of an early stage of fatty liver. That got my attention, so I went back to basics and pulled out “Protein Power” and got back to work. I began a walking regimen and an eating plan following the recommendations in your book.
On October 8, 2013, I went back for a follow-up exam. She recommended Lipitor, due to my Total Cholesterol level of 212 and LDL Cholesterol of 129. I told her that I had lost 20 pounds by eating a healthy diet and cutting out a lot of sugar (i.e. Carbs), have been walking almost daily and that I did not want to start statins until after I have another test to see what the new levels were. She sent me to the lab.
HDL CHOLESTEROL: 45
LDL CHOLESTEROL: 124
CHOL/HDL RATIO: 4.4
Blood Pressure: 115/75
Her comment to me was: “Unchanged and I have sent you a prescription for the medication, so please return in two months for fasting labs.” Let’s see, Total Cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, Triglyceride, Chol/HDL Ratio and blood pressure are now all in the NORMAL Range and LDL Cholesterol is still high, but 5 points better. Blood pressure has dropped considerably. Yet, my doctor tells me things are “unchanged” and issued a prescription for Lipitor and instructs me to come back in 2 months. Well, she can write me a prescription if she wants but she can’t make me take it!
I am continuing my walking routine and my Protein Power low carb diet. Weight is still improving slowly. I have been reading several books as well, so I can have more information for my next appointment, books like:
– Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes,
– The Great Cholesterol Myth by Sinatra and Bowden,
– The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Phinney and Volek and
– Overdosed America by John Abramson.
After reading these books in addition to yours and watching these 2 television shows, I am convinced I am making the correct decision. Now if I could just get my wife to read and believe these materials! She still thinks the medical community is telling us the truth and the Standard American Diet is healthy, therefore, she keeps trying to get low-fat, high carb into my diet. You would think the test results would help to convince her!
Thank you, again, for your wonderfully helpful information! Keep up the fight!
Thanks for sharing your story. I can’t believe your doc wanted to put you on a potentially harmful drug without any real indications for it. Especially since you are in a group who has never been shown to gain any benefit in a reduction of all-cause mortality with statins. I’m assuming you’ve never had a heart attack since you didn’t mention it. The only group ever shown to actually benefit from statins in terms of living longer is the group of males under age 65 who have had a heart attack.
I’m glad your reading all the books you listed above, but I suspect that if you read every book on low-carb ever written, your doctor would not be moved. That’s just the way it is.
Keep up the good work.
It is utterly incredible to me that “conventional” medicine continues to treat resulting symptoms instead going after the root problem. I have stopped taking statins because I have experienced the side effects, especially the loss of cognitive abilities, and I believe the videos, et al, that find that cholesterol isn’t part of the problem, it’s part of the solution. Sugar is the problem along with all the refined white things. So perhaps ANY diet that avoids refined sugar, wheat flour and rice will result in a decline in body mass, blood sugar, etc. High carbohydrate and low fat or low carbohydrate and high fat, it doesn’t matter. As a trained scientist I’m trying to identify the one principle that allows both extremes to produce the same result. Unfortunately, my training is in physics rather than biology so I’m not so conversant with statistical studies (even though I took Statistics as part of my MBA and taught it at the college level for about two month). This discussion is magnificent.
You are more or less right on this. The reason is that the Standard American Diet is so bad than anything that veers from it provides a positive outcome. So if you just want some improvement, just grab any diet book at random, follow the diet therein, and you’ll get better.
The question should be: What is the optimal diet?
I’m firmly in the camp of the low-carb diet because I’ve had 30+ years of firsthand experience in using such diets to treat thousands of patients. But beyond that, I’ve combed the medical literature and found that whenever low-carb and low-fat diets are compared head to head the low-carb diets always perform better than the low-fat diets or at worst perform equally with the low-fat diets. If low-carb adn low-fat diets were equal in efficacy, sometimes the low-carb diets would work better and sometimes the low-fat. But it never turns out that way. The low-carb diets provide either superior or equal results as compared to lowfat diets.
So, based on the data available at this time, I would have to say that the low-carb diet is closer to the optimal diet than the low-fat diet.
Your experience base is huge and to be relied on as is your thinking! I keep watching the Catalyst videos to really learn the message. Thank you again for those. I’ve stopped the statins – again – and no longer experience the side effects mentioned in the videos. And I’m really thrilled to hear in the video about the Framingham study finding that elevated serum cholesterol is protective after age 47. I’m disobeying my MDs and am willing to be fired as their patient.
So my challenge is to find an MD, as you recommend in my 1996 copy of “Protein Power”, who will support my efforts to get off the meds and achieve total health with diet and exercise alone. The MDs I’ve had at both Kaiser Permanente and the local Veterans Administration facility have all pointed me away from high fat low carb diets toward Campbell and Esselstyn’s “Forks Over Knives” and Joel Fuhrman’s “The End of Diabetes” . My feeling is these programs will not help me maximize my life span.
I’m feeling a sense of urgency to get my diet right due to circulation blockages in my legs and the resulting pain when I move. I’d still like to cure it all with just diet and exercise – which the pain inhibits. I’m trying to figure out how to integrate Campbell, Esselstyn and Fuhrman into a grand-scheme-of -things concept.
As complicated as the human organism appears to be there still should be some “fundamental common diet (FCD)” that underlies all the variations. I keep thinking about how to integrate all the things I read to sort out that Common Truth and isolate the FCD (without insulting anyone).
Our kind of human has walked this planet for about 100,000 years. Some human genome researchers claim their DNA studies show that we all descend from just five women somewhere in central Africa and our ancestors wandered from there to cover the Earth, mostly by walking. They would have eaten whatever they found as they went since cultivation didn’t exist yet. Animals would have been available regardless of climate and where the edges of the polar ice sheets were at any time. Plant foods would also have been available, but only in season without cultivation and our massive transportation system. Based on that I’d guess that the Fundamental Common Diet was mostly animal based with carbohydrates added as found. Everyone hunted and gathered.
The First Americans arrived on foot to North and South America about twenty thousand years before the first Europeans arrived in sailing ships. Human evolution moves so slowly that intermarriages between the two groups produce children who can have children. The kinds of foods available in central Africa and along those travels should, I’m thinking, indicate the Fundamental Common Diet.
Along the way groups have populated very diverse regions such as Inuit and others on the arctic fringe who were disease free on totally animal foods until they got the Standard American Diet (how SAD). Stefansson’s experience with living with the Eskimos and again in the 1928 Bellevue Study support the total fat and protein diet (are there carbohydrates in animals somehow?). Again suggesting the FCD is rooted in animal foods.
So how can the plant-based studies be right too? Is there a problem with the protocols or the interpretations of the results?
All very good questions. I’m beavering away on a post that sort of looks at the FCD, as you call it. It’s actually more of an explanation as to why different people get such different results on one kind of diet or another. Don’t know when I’ll have it up, but I hope in the next few weeks. I should have had it up by now but this Catalyst stuff keeps coming through and throwing me off my schedule because I want to get it all up while it’s hot.
I don’t know if you’ve read my three part series on our heritage as meat eaters vs vegetarians, but if not, here are the links:
Are we meat eaters or vegetarians?, Part 1
Are we meat eaters or vegetarians, Part 2
Are we meat eaters of vegetarians?, Part 3
Thank you for the links, I’ve not seen those yet (and I just love getting new homework assignments (grin)).
Dr Eades, thank you for you work. By listening to the original interview with Dr Abramson (http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/heartofthematter/default.htm) I noticed he says in 9:50: that the AHA guidelines for treating older women were silently changed in 2011. Anybody can read it here and open Table 4: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/123/11/1243.full
Does that mean that for instance 72 y old woman with who knows what risk of CVD and persisting diseases like asthma and often high CRP, although with “high” cholesterol should not automatically be pushed into statin?
They’ve changed the recommendations, but still recommend statins for women under certain conditions. I don’t understand why because their recommendations are (or should be) based on the same studies showing no benefit in terms of a decrease in all-cause mortality for women of any age group.
aaaaaand everything just got a lot worse:
A little better and a little worse. Less focus on cholesterol levels. Probably more aggressive statin therapy on those who fit the guidelines.
Dr Eades, is there a scientific reason that the results of the INTERHEART trial are ignored when setting these recommendations?
These things are put together by committees. Each committee member has his/her own particular bias, and they all fight it out. Science should not be done by committee – it’s done by individual scientists who plod away until one or a group make a significant discovery that then other groups try to repeat and validate.
Determination of risk factors, in my view, really isn’t science. Especially if multiple studies exist in which reducing these so-called risk factors don’t really decrease mortality.
What is the threshold TC level for statins to be deemed necessary in your opinion?
I have no other risk factors at all. 6’2″ 185 lbs. Good shape. Tested my hsCRP levels and it was off the low end of the scale (<0.1 I believe). Trigs around 40. HDL around 80. I eat a Paleo style diet; no sugar, no wheat, no nasty oils. But my TC has ranged from 290-360 over the past 3 years. I had a VAP test which revealed mostly pattern A LDL.
I'm not really concerned about it given my lack of other risk factors. My wife and my Dr., on the other hand, are up in arms that I won't take Lipitor.
I, myself, don’t have a threshold TC level for statins because I don’t give statins.
I don’t know the carb content of your Paleo diet, but I do know carbs drive TC levels. If you’re following a splendid Paleo diet, as in one that is all natural, crawling with ‘good’ carbs, that can be running your triglycerides up.
My triglycerides are great. 40-50 on average. It’s my LDL and Total Cholesterol that is really high.
Sorry. In my haste, I read TC as triglycerides instead of total cholesterol. I can’t give you medical treatment over the internet. Your cholesterol is in the range that used to be considered normal not all that long ago. Your HDL is high, which is good. And you have primarily a type A, but, fluffy pattern. You should be able to figure out from reading through all my blog posts on the subject what my recommendation would be were you actually my patient. You need to work with your own physician who knows you well.
William, unless you have had a heart attack or nave familial hypercholesterolemia (If you did, your TTL Chol. would be Much higher) there is No reason to even consider statins. Your TTL Chol is Fine, & at ~ levels of people worldwide that live the Longest. Also, TTL LDL is not relevant. What Is relevant is if that LDL is Pattern B predominant (dense & dangerous). You say your’s is Pattern A, so no worries, & ZERO reason to be on a statin. Some really good books out there: “The Great Cholesterol Myth… by Stephen Sinatra M.D. (Cardiologist) & an easy read (That is the one your wife needs to read). Another great book is “Perfect Health Diet” by Paul Jaminet PhD. … Cholesterol issues are addressed, & so much more. It is a paleo oriented book, & the website is excellent too: perfecthealthdiet.com
NY Times op-ed on statins:
Yep, saw it. Written by a couple of my co-appearees on the Catalyst shows.
The drug company-led war is escalating with the blitzkrieg of announcements from the statinators. It’s time to go to war to defend the truth. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-sci-statins-20131113,0,2368243.story#axzz2ke6246C5
My doctor is recommending a statin based on my recent cholesterol test. Total: 290, HDL: 62, LDL: 210, Triglycerides: 92. I’ve been eating low-carb for over a decade, and while my LDL has always been “elevated”, it’s never been this bad. Could it be all the delicious butter I’ve been eating since moving to Ireland?
I don’t plan to take the statin, but I do wonder whether I should be doing something about this, like shifting back to more olive oil. Is there an LDL level that’s just too high, even in the absense of other risk factors? Is it 190, as Thomas Dayspring says? What’s the science on such “extreme” LDL values, if any?
What you’ve got to remember is that elevated LDL levels aren’t a disease – they’re a lab finding. The folks who want to sell you statins, however, want you to believe elevated LDL is a disease.
Studies have shown a correlation between elevated LDL and heart disease, but, as I never tire of saying, correlation is not causation.
LDL levels don’t exist in a vacuum. The rest of the medical picture is just as, if not more, important.
If you substitute polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat, your LDL level will fall. All least it does for most people. But your HDL will fall also. And, as per the Anti-Coronary Club fiasco, there is no guarantee that a lower LDL will increase your lifespan.
Dr. Eades, I have a ~ unique cholesterol related question that I hope you can answer. My Husband takes 2 tbsp. coconut oil per day to help raise his HDL & also to remain in slight ketosis while increasing healthy carbs. (He likes Keto for weight loss without hunger). When mentioning this info. to an epidemiologist relative, she said that there are No studies showing lipid benefits of coconut oil consumption; all evidence is purely anecdotal. (She also said you don’t really know that the oil extraction method Isn’t chemical, even if the jar says organic. So, just eat the whole fruit, as nature intended. While I am a big believer in consuming whole foods, My Husband doesn’t like the texture… of coconut, so that won’t be happening). Do you know of any well done studies showing lipid benefits from coconut oil consumption? (If not, I still think people are too quick to completely discount anecdotal evidence). Thanks So much!
Unlike your epidemiologist relative, I’m not 100 percent certain about anything. I have not kept up with all the medical/scientific literature on coconut oil – there are just too many other issues I’m more interested in. So, I don’t have at my finger tips any studies on coconut oil.
As I understand it, the label Organic has to do with whether or not the specific food is grown following the organic rules. I’m not sure it has anything to do with how an oil is extracted. But, as I wrote above, I’m not 100 percent certain, even on this.
I know that I, myself (and MD), vastly prefer coconut oil to any other oil for all kinds of reasons. Most having to do with the particular fatty acid content and the stable cooking properties.
Thanks for responding! I need to just scour for studies or even ask on Paul Jaminet’s website. Discussing ideas w/ an epidemiologist, especially potentially “unproven” ideas can be challenging, though always interesting. Yes, I completely agree that the coconut oil fatty acid profile is excellent, & it is one of the few oils I’m comfortable cooking with.
Here’s an anecdote about coconut oil.
My father in law developed Alzheimer’s Disease to the point that he’d sometimes get violent. Then he got shingles in 2010 and went silent for about two years, didn’t talk at all anymore.
At some point he was started on 2T of coconut oil 3x daily and, in about a year, he was talking again, singing songs and making jokes as seen in a video made about two days before he died. He died last August from blood pressure dropping apparently due to a slowly leaking abdominal anurism that they’d been watching for years.
He didn’t die alone, his hospital room was full of about 20 people. I asked my wife how many were her father’s descents. “All of them” except the doctor, nurse and priest (He had eight children, 24 grandchildren, two great grandchildren). More relatives were watching via OoVoo from tablet computers in the hospital room. He would have been 83 this December 1.
Many of his family, including me, are so impressed with the apparent effects of the coconut oil that we are now taking it too. I belive my cognitive abilities have increased a bit ‘though not quite to what they were twenty years ago.
What makes this kind of story anecdotal is that no other possible explanations have been investigated to isolate real causation. I’m only eleven years younger than he was so I’m very alert for such things as well as what I learn on this blog, it’s really very beneficial, ie. a truly great service.
Five years ago during a checkup my cholesterol was 327, HDL 64, Trig 168, LDL 229. It was also determined I had calcium in at least one coronary artery. I was immediately put on Simvastatin 80 mg (and Amlodipine.) This despite being an avid cyclist/ exerciser (I had biked across the continent just six months earlier) and a near-vegetarian. (My favorite “fast food” was a hamburger on a whole wheat bun with all the trimmings BUT NO MEAT.)
It took about two years but I began having to walk my bike up even small hills. It hurt to get out of a chair. My thighs were rock-hard (and huge) — I could slam a fist on the top of my leg and the fist would bounce off. I demonstrated to people and they were impressed — Superman thighs! –but my muscles were painful and actually weak.
Then I read a news account of interactions between Simvastatin and Amlodipine and brought it to my doctor — who switched me to Pravastatin.
The muscle problems quickly went away — except it took me a full year to get back to my prior cycling strength. In retrospect those rock-hard thighs were super-inflamed tissue, not Superman muscle.
On Simvastatin my lipids were 193, HDL 70, Trig 134, LDL 96.
However, I was gaining weight and strongly felt my metabolism was changing. (I told this to my cardiologist and he just shrugged. ) In desperation 1 year and a half ago I began a low-carb diet, starting with Diane Kress’ “Metabolism Miracle” and then graduating to books by Taubes, Phinney, etc. I lost 40 pounds and got well under 25 BMI. My primary doctor cut my Pravastatin to half; and my lipids further improved, to
170, HDL 68, Trig 43, LDL 93. (Actually I often forget to take the Pravastatin.)
How much of the improvement is statin, how much low-carb? I don’t know. II must say, though, that after many years of following the low-fat (I mean under a gram of fat per day for quite a while!) I was very scared trying low-carb, red meat, eggs, cheese, etc. I was sure my doctor would panic at my next checkup when my cholesterol would no doubt hit 2,000 and my LDL 25 million… obviously that did not happen. Along the way, this blog was a real help (in gratitude I even bought a Sous Vide from you. Which I love.)
That is my story. To complete it I guess I really should go off the statin entirely and check back in six months….
Interesting story. There is a difference between statins, and your history clearly shows the end result this difference can make in terms of side effects.
I never, ever prescribe statins to anyone and won’t until I see evidence that they are actually helpful in more than just a tiny handful of cases. But if I did, I would prescribe ONLY pravistatin (Pravachol) or rosuvastatin (Crestor).
Because these are the only two statins that are water soluble. All the rest are fat soluble. Why does this make a difference? Because fat soluble drugs end up in the cellular membranes, which are fatty membranes.
The water soluble ones are more easily flushed out and reside only in the water containing area of the cells, not in the cell membranes. I would hate the thought of having a drug that fundamentally changes lipid biochemistry residing in my cell membranes.
In your case, you saw the difference between a fat-soluble statin and a water-soluble one.
I can’t give you medical advice over the internet, but I can say that you fall into a group of people who have never received any benefit from a statin. The group of people who do receive some very minimal benefit in terms of decrease in all-cause mortality is young males who have actually had a heart attack. I can’t tell for sure from your comment if you are male or female, but I suspect a male. And if you had had a heart attack instead of simply a calcium reading in one coronary artery, I would think you would have mentioned it.
One other thing…
People who are hardcore exercisers often deplete their bodies of magnesium. With that in mind, take a look at this recent study.
Remember, correlation is not causation. But given the mass of data showing elevated magnesiums protective effect on diabetes, high blood pressure and insulin resistance in general make me think the authors of this study are on to something. And there is no real downside to taking a little extra magnesium.
Lastly, thanks for the SousVide Supreme purchase. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.
Dear Dr. Eades, I am a 65 yr old male. I have Metabolic Syndrome of high cholesterol (just barely above 240), high fasting blood sugar (still below 120 but has been over 100 most of my life), and high blood pressure currently controlled by Lisinopril and HCTZ. I must admit being a carbohydrate and sweets “addict” although I have switched to mostly “sugar free” chocolates and other sweets when I partake of those. I have been on a few different statins over the last 10 years and cholesterol has been in the preferred range. I also take Metformin and have been now for about 7 yrs. Type 2 diabetes has been on both sides of my family. Both parents were deceased before any of the cholesterol reduction mania started so I don’t know about their history there.
I started reading your blog about a year ago with great interest because I wanted to stop taking statins. I read about Red Yeast Rice around the same time as I started reading your blog and recently decided to try them in lieu of statins. My first 3 month cycle using the RYR gave a desired TC below 240 close to 200. Subsequent testing showed a climb back to 250 TC. A few months prior to the blood test my physical activity (mostly walking) suffered due to a job change and relocation back to CA. My doctor recommended resuming simvastatin but I am trying increasing my walking instead. My question is whether or not there are any concerns about the RYR? Any thoughts about it? I will advise what blood results I get after my next test scheduled for April 2014.
As I understand it – and I’ll freely admit I’m no expert on RYR – the RYR products act in a similar way that statins do. Which would imply to me that they may have a similar, though not so severe, side effect pattern.
Based on a fair amount of literature review, I prefer bergamot to RYR for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it reduces blood sugar as well as cholesterol. As I’ve written many, many times, I don’t like treating lab values. I much prefer treating actual diseases, and, in my view, elevated cholesterol is not a disease. For those people who don’t feel comfortable not doing anything, I recommend bergamot. My preferred formula is BergaMet. I don’t have any financial involvement with the company, and I don’t know how difficult it is to actually purchase their products. At some point, I’ll probably get some up on our store pages, but have too many other things to do first before I can get around to it.
My wife is 77 years of age. Has never smoked, hardly touches alcohol. Weight 9st.2lbs. B/P 135/65 does all her own housework, gardening, and we regularly are out walking. We both eat a Low-Carb diet, as me being type 2, I keep it under control by diet only, no drugs.
She has recently,7 weeks ago, had a NSTEMI heart event. No stents needed, just a very small clot on the branch of the of the first diagonal, which they have elected to disperse medically. So far, fine.
But as her Cholesterol is 6.5 naturally, for years now, they insist she has 40mg. Simvastatin od.. As we have always been anti-statin, this is causes her more stress, than possible benefit.
Is this statin vital to her, or a possible ‘water soluble’ statin be better.
Obviously here in the UK, our NHS sets fixed guidelines for our docrors to adhere to.
She is on Aspirin, Clopidgrel, Isosorbide and Bisoprolol.
I know you must be a very busy man, but thanks anyway. Stan
All I can say is that no study has shown a benefit to women in terms of a decrease in all-cause mortality. And, if I were going to take a statin, I would take a water-soluble one.
Thank you for a prompt reply, and I fully recognize your advice, and will as they say ‘read between the lines. Regards Stan.
I had a bit of a role reversal in that I recently fired my doctor because of his quick insistence on statins at my first high cholesterol reading.
(This is after 2 weeks of following the Protein Power plan.)
Total Cholesterol: 247
Calculated LDL: 158
CHOL/HDL Ratio: 3.5
Fortunately, there is another doctor in my area who is a proponent of Paleo-type lifestyle, so I’m able to switch doctors with reasonable confidence that I will not have this problem with the new doc.
It’s getting worse….. This story is from today on the BBC.
First, thank you so much, Dr. Eades, for your contributions to this struggle !
Statins can do irreparable damage. Many internet sites cover the subject matter from the users point of view; one of the best is Spacedoc.com (read NASA). The link follows:
Select the first category in the list (Statins and other cholesterol reducing drugs) and read the entries from “My Statin Story”. I know how they can devastate a life completely – mine is one of the entries.
Please help! I had a strange episode 2 weeks ago in which I felt as if I had swallowed a volleyball and it was stuck in my chest for 15 minutes. Very scary and a bit painful. The Dr. had me do a chest x-ray (was okay), an EKG (also okay) and a blood test to check cholesterol. Not so okay. She wants me to go on a statin. I don’t want to. I saw you on “Fathead” and believe what you say. How should I handle this. (My numbers were Cholesterol–303, Triglycerides–65, HDL–94, LDL–196, Non-HDL Chol.–209, and Chol./HDL Ratio–3.2. Tomorrow I am to have a Stress Test and an Echo. How should I handle this with my Dr.? When I mentioned that I have been on a low carb diet, although I’ve been bad for a few months, she acts like, “Oh. One of those!” I do like her; she is very thorough, but I am really unhappy and uneasy about this turn of events. What should I do?
I really would appreciate your help on this. Thank you so much.
I can’t possibly treat you or advise you for specific medical problems over the internet. If I had to guess, based on very little information, I would say you probably had an esophageal spasm, but that’s just a wild guess. You might mention that to your doctor.
You can always refuse to go on a statin if you don’t want to go on one, but that’s between you and your doc.
I’m new to this blog, but have been reading about your take on statins. I’m taking atorvastatin, generic lipitor, but also fenofibrate for genetically high triglycerides. Do I drop the statin but stay on the fenofibrate? Thoughts anyone?
Once I had seen both “Heart of the Matter” episodes and recognized that I was experiencing loss of cognition, a side effect of statins, and connecting the Framingham study result that after age 47 cholesterol seems protective – older people with higher cholesterol numbers were living longer, healthier lives I immediately ran from all statins. I no longer believe the cholesterol theory of heart disease is correct and that it will eventually be scrapped, the most recent FedGov further lowering the number not withstanding.
I think, as a scientist, that the biological sciences must use statistical studies and that they are very, very hard to get right so that there is a cacophony of noise “out there”, such huge numbers of studies supporting both sides of a question that it’s really hard to decide what’s correct. But the cholesterol theory of heart disease is wrong. Dr. Jony Bowden, PhD Nutrition, is interviewed in Heart of the Matter, part 1, and has an hour long video on You Tube that’s really worth watching.
My current effort is to identify a thread from before homo sapiens sapiens existed right down to today on dietary guidelines that work for everyone. I was starting to try to identify the commonalities among all the diets “out there” (same place) when Dr. Bowden put me onto Denise Minger’s “Death by Food Pyramid”. Minger had done it for me.
So search You Tube for “Catalyst Heart of the Matter”, both episodes should top the search return (I haven’t checked for a while), and “Dr. Jony Bowden The Great Cholesterol Myth” if you haven’t already and start your own study. The next piece of my puzzle appears to be that the wheat we are eating today is not, not, not the wheat of the Hebrew Bible nor of the even older Agricultural Revolution. Today’s wheat is more like the sugar Dr. Bowden says is the root of many health issues. Even whole grains are bad carbohydrates.
There’s a lot more to this very huge issue. And I’m bettin’ my life that I’m getting it right.
My M.D. told me I need to take colesteral lowering medication when my numbers started rising. The reason I booked an appointment was because I was suffering from bad allergies. Nothing was discused about that so I took them home and have it a try. Felt Evan sicker so I told her I was looking to much weight. I told her I would get the numbers down with a gluten free diet because I beloved it was the wheat allergies coming back that they were not just outgrown. My numbers emediatly dropped 200 point and was at 100. My husband could see I was doing better so he joined me and his numbers also dropped. Those was all done when know one had heard of gluten. So lots of meals where hard to access when tracking for work. My weight dropped a little so MD said eat gluten So I can test you. I said that’s rediculace. Refued, she ran the test anyway and said you don’t have cieliacs. I did not know what that was but stayed on the diet. My Dr again a year later did another test. It was concerned no cieliacs. Ok I can slip a little in,BAD IDEA, I got very sick slowly my numbers were up. So did research doctor was wrong and called me one night and told me to stop eating glutin claiming I was intolerant. ????
Back on diet and feeling better but with lots of issues. Still refuse to take cholesterol medication. Have been sick lung problems, I could go on and on. My family history everyone is dead or had multiple bypasses, lupis, diabetes. They all took statins and my mother died at age 40 sudden heat failure. My right heart has always had a sticky valve and now I am in my mid 50’s having all semptoms of TIA memory loss and feeling tired all the time headackes slides speech. I demanded my doctor send me to a cardiologist and she said i did not have problems….what?? I tried to a second opinion from Stanford they required a scan. She finely agreed, but just before she called me in to her office. Tried to talk me out of it. Even said I was alergic to the contrast. I told her I had one 5 years prior and has not problem. Results came back, pufectly healthy even my uturas showed up as normal with normal overies. Only one very seriously difficulty was it was removed at 27 years old. I did have the test done when I was 25 I had it then. Dr tried to pass it off as a new one. Also tried the old typo story. That did not hold up because I mention I had one five years earlier. What are they hiding. Hmmmm.