Why Statins Are Not Good for You and Why High Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Disease

As well as my abiding interest in alternative health, I also run a website specifically on hormone health, and one of my regular contributors is Jeffrey Dach MD. He has wide ranging experience and was originally trained in clinical medicine, worked as an Emergency Room doctor spent 25 years as a hospital based physican and is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. He now runs his own clinic seeing a variety of patients so when he speaks I for one tend to listen.

He has sent me information on why he believes it is so important to get patients off statin drugs and I know a number of my readers are concerned about this and I do update you regularly, but Dr Dach has specific concerns that I want to share with you.

Jeffrey Dach illustrates his points with actual case histories so: “Case Number One, Martha who is 55 years old, healthy and no history of heart disease. Nonetheless, Martha has been taking a statin drug for “high cholesterol” under the care of “the top cardiologist” in South Florida for the past five years. Martha has also been under my care taking a bioidentical hormone program for menopausal symptoms, and doing very well. Every six months, we run a lab panel which always shows low cholesterol of 170, courtesy of her statin anti-cholesterol drug.

Every time Martha comes into the office to review her lab results, I print out a 2004 JAMA article by Judith Walsh, MD who reviewed thirteen statin drug clinical trials from 1966 to 2003 and from which Dr. Walsh concluded that cholesterol lowering drugs provide no health benefit for women. I give her this article and, at the same time, explain to her that no woman should be on a statin drug. Lowering cholesterol with a statin drug has no health benefit for women, that’s a fact, and public information readily available.

Every six months I recommend to Martha stopping the statin drug, and every six month, her cardiologist puts her back on the statin drug. This has been going on for three years now.
On her last visit she is sitting in my office recounting multiple health problems for which she sees numerous doctors: back pain, asthma, sinus infections, skin problems, and allergies. I suggested to Martha the possibility that many of her health problems are caused by the low cholesterol from the statin drug. Martha finally sees the light, goes home and tosses the bottle of pills into the garbage can.
About a week later, Martha called me and reported, “I feel so much better off that statin drug, thank you so much! “. Apparently, the statin drug was causing adverse health effects, and Martha was now feeling much better. This case illustrates the difficulty in convincing patients to stop their statin drug. It is difficult to counter the drug company propaganda, and convince these patients they are harming their health with the statin drugs. Many continue to believe in the myth that cholesterol causes heart disease, and they go on to become statin drug medical victims. I see them every day. When we have a success like Martha who finally gets off her statin drug, this is a cause for celebration.

In case you think the non-benefits of statins only apply to women, here is Case Number Two – Roger who is a seventy one year old retired executive, and an avid tennis player. He has no history of coronary artery disease and has always been healthy. Two years ago, his cardiologist said his cholesterol of 210 was “too high”, and prescribed a statin anti-cholesterol drug. A year later, Roger’s tennis game deteriorated, he found his timing and balance was off, and he lost every game to players who could never beat him before.

I suggested to Roger that the decline in his tennis game was most likely an adverse effect of the statin drug on his muscle and nerve function. He was losing his balance and coordination. I recommended stopping the statin anti-cholesterol drug. Sadly, many people – and their doctors – still believe that lower cholesterol means less heart disease.

In order to counter the drug company cholesterol propaganda, I gave Roger a copy of the book, Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You, by Uffe Ravnskov MD PhD. This book reviews the medical studies which supposedly show that cholesterol is the cause of heart disease, and reveals that they do no such thing. This is a medical myth. Neither cholesterol consumption nor cholesterol blood levels cause heart disease. Similarly, many medical studies demonstrate that anti-cholesterol drugs work very well to reduce blood cholesterol levels, however, this treatment does not prolong life and makes most people sick with adverse side effects.

Two weeks later, off the statin drug, Roger was back to his old self, prancing about the tennis court like a gazelle, and winning every game with ease.”

AnnA’s comment:
Statins have been shown to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality among individuals with clinical history of coronary heart disease, but it is the prescribing of statins as a ‘preventive’ for those without such history that is the issue here. They are routinely being given to people who are deemed at risk due to age and to lower cholesterol levels but there is so far no proof that they are of benefit for such people.

If you are still thinking of taking statins, then take a look at this study published July 2010 in the Archives of Internal Medicine by Dr. Ray. He reviewed 11 statin drug clinical trials with 65,229 participants followed for approximately 244,000 person-years. The astounding results showed the statin drug group all-cause mortality was THE SAME as the placebo group and there was no benefit from the statin drugs. This article was published in the mainstream medical literature but don’t be surprised if your doctor hasn’t read it.

Statins Update – News and Views

November 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies

Statins are regarded as a lifesaver by some and a dangerous medication by others. I have written on this before and just by coincidence this week three separate news stories turned up on different aspects of these drugs.

Their primary use is to lower blood cholesterol levels by blocking the action of a chemical in the liver that is necessary for making cholesterol. So far so good, and they are used to maintain normal cholesterol levels and so lower the risk of chest pain (angina), heart attack, and stroke.
Unfortunately, in my view, they are over prescribed and used to simply alleviate anxiety about possible future health conditions and instead of promoting healthier lifestyle choices through diet and exercise. Here is the news – and you make up your own mind.

Statins 1: The Good News
Study results presented at the Ninth Annual AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, held Nov. 7-10 in Philadelphia have indicated that long-term statin use is unlikely to increase cancer risk for bladder, breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, prostate, or renal cell cancer, but was associated with lower risk of melanoma, endometrial cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

This was a decent-sized study that included 133,255 participants in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort and they completed several questionnaires and were followed over a period of about 10 years. During that time more than 15,000 participants were diagnosed with cancer.

Statins 2: The Not So Good News
According to a study in the British Medical Journal statins significantly increase a person’s risk of cataracts, muscle weakness, liver dysfunction and kidney failure. Unlike the previous report, they also confirmed that the drugs lower the risk of heart disease and oesophageal cancer, but claims of other health benefits were unsupported.

Again this study is a respectable size, as researchers from Nottingham University examined data on more than 2 million patients between the ages of 30 and 84, seen at 38 different general practices, who had been prescribed statins.

The researchers confirmed prior data suggesting that statins increase patients’ risk of cataracts, liver dysfunction, kidney failure and a form of muscle weakness known as myopathy. They found that for every 10,000 women treated with the drugs, 23 would develop acute kidney (renal) failure, 39 would develop myopathy, 74 would develop liver dysfunction and 309 would develop cataracts. Men suffered an even higher risk of myopathy, but their risks of the other three conditions were similar to those suffered by women.

In a nutshell, the researchers found that only 434 people would need to be treated with the drugs for five years for one case of acute renal failure to develop. It would take only 136 treated for each case of liver dysfunction and 33 for each case of cataracts. Among women, 259 would need to be treated for each case of myopathy; among men, the number was only 91.

The risk of developing all conditions was highest during the first year of treatment, but continued throughout the course of the study. Risk of liver and kidney problems increased proportionally with the dose of statins being taken.

Further research involving statins and cancer has come from the large population-based Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in the US. Their findings are that statins fail to reduce colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.

Michael S. Simon, M.D., professor of oncology in the department of oncology at Wayne State University and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit presented these study results at the previously mentioned Ninth Annual AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference and according to him, the results from several case-control studies have shown a moderate reduction in colorectal cancer risk in people who use statins. However, a majority of the literature researching the association, including data from randomized controlled trials and cohort studies, show no association between statin use and reduced colorectal cancer risk.

Statins 3: Better News
The Nottingham researchers did find, however, that the risk of cataracts returned to normal within one year of stopping statin treatment, while the risk of liver and kidney problems returned to normal within one to three years. Additionally, they found no connection between statin use and the risk of dementia, osteoporotic fracture, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis or venous thromboembolism.

Unlike stated in Statins 1, these researchers found almost no data supporting claims they reduced cancer risk. The study “largely confirmed other studies that reported no clear association between statins and risk of cancers,” according to the researchers. The only cancer-fighting effect uncovered in the study was a slightly lower risk of oesophageal cancer, with eight cases averted for every 10,000 high-risk women treated. In other words, 1,266 high-risk women or 1,082 high-risk men would need to be treated with the drugs to prevent one case of oesophageal cancer.

It is a lot to take in, and you are going to have to assess your own risk of potential heart disease and high cholesterol against the other health risks associated with these drugs. As ever, adopting a healthier lifestyle is an essential first step to dealing with high cholesterol before resorting to any drug regime.

Another ‘benefit’ of statins?

November 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Drugs & Medication


The ingenuity of the pharmaceutical industry is a cause for celebration – really why Gordon Brown hasn’t handed over the economy to them is a mystery to me.  Give them a problem, like say your drug for lowering cholesterol is now marked as causing health problems, and they wave their magic wand and come up with another use for it.

Now, based on a 2007-2008 analysis of 2,800 people hospitalized for flu complications during that period in Portland, USA, they are claiming that it can reduce your chances of dying from complications associated with flu by up to 50 percent.  This is good news if you are already on statins, and vulnerable to infection, but needs weighing up carefully against such as muscle pain and depression.

Statins do have anti-inflammatory effects and flu causes inflammation  and Professor VanderMeer, who conducted the research, told journalists that “Our preliminary research suggests there may be a role for statins in influenza treatment.”

Patients in the study were taking a range of statins, including atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), and simvastatin (Zocor) and they don’t know whether one drug or another performed better.  She confirmed that a randomized controlled trial is needed to confirm or refute the results, she said.  That’s a view endorsed by Andrew Pavia, MD, of the University of Utah who feels it is too early to suggest that statins might be used to treat the flu, but agreed that if you’re on statins for your cholesterol, you may be getting some extra benefit.

Statins update

A new trial has shown that taking an omega-3 fish oil capsule outperforms a statin drug in reducing mortality and hospital admissions for chronic heart failure.

The results of the recent Italian study were given at the European Society of Cardiology meeting and published online by The Lancet on 31 August 2008. The patients on omega-3 supplements showed a lowered risk of mortality compared to those heart failure patients who received 10 mg/day of a potent statin drug and others given a placebo. The patients given the statin showed no benefit and in fact had the same outcome as taking the placebo.

What this study suggests is that a daily intake of omega-3 fatty acid supplement for close to four years may provide a slight reduction in mortality or hospitalizations for patients with chronic heart failure and that treatment with statins does not appear to be beneficial in patients with chronic heart failure. The American College of Cardiology has predicted that the results would soon be rapidly incorporated into their guidelines on heart failure. This is the second trial to demonstrate benefit for omega-3 in cardiovascular disease: the first trial found that omega-3 reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events following a heart attack whereas the second appears to lower the risk of mortality from heart disease.

If you are concerned about your risk for heart disease and want to take preventive measures, the suggested supplemental daily dose of omega-3 is equivalent to a gram day, taken for at least four years continuously – or seriously increase your intake of sardines and other oily fish!

Statins – Children next?

Last week I raised concerns about the routine prescribing of statins, and now from the USA comes news that the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee has recommended routine screening of children, from 2 years old, for “high cholesterol”. Given the deterioration in children’s’ diets you may think that a good idea, but not when it is accompanied by the news that they are also recommending giving children as young as eight years old statin drugs. These drugs have never even been tested on children, never mind approved for their use – in fact not one single safety test has ever been conducted with children taking these powerful chemicals.

I am not going to repeat the side effects that I gave last week, but if they have such an impact on adults, can you imagine what they will do to children? Schools are having enough disciplinary problems as it is, without adding in children on drugs that can cause homicidal impulses and mental confusion. No one denies that more children are now presenting with high cholesterol levels, but surely the answer lies in controlling their diet and ensuring enough exercise? The main ‘culprits’ if a child is diagnosed with high cholesterol at the age of eight are the consumption of too great a quantity of these:

* Milk and dairy products
* Fried foods and trans fatty acids
* Processed meats and animal products

Nutritionists believe that virtually any child can be cured of high cholesterol in a matter of weeks by being fed a 100% plant-based diet, comprised entirely of non-processed foods, and including fresh, raw vegetable and fruit juices along with numerous superfoods such as apples, broccoli, wholemeal bread, salmon, bananas and brazil nuts. Simple, yes, and certainly better than putting a child on a drug regime that they could be kept on for years.

Statins – Saint or sinner?

July 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

Many of you will have heard of Patrick Holford, the UK’s leading nutrition expert, and I have known him for many years. Indeed I edited his Optimum Nutrition magazine for a while and always find what he has to say of interest.

The topic of statins has come up a lot recently, particularly when I have been giving talks on natural health, and there seems to be a lot of confusion. This is not surprising because every year there is always a ‘new’ wonder thing that will help us stay health without much willpower on our part, but will bring fairly large profits to the people manufacturing it.

Cynical? Maybe, but when you have written about health for as long as I have you see the cycle of celebration, doubt, debunking and then quietly disappearing for many so called ‘miracle’ cures.

New health guidelines issued recently say all adults aged 40 to 75 should be assessed for risks, including smoking, weight and blood pressure and those with at least a 20 per cent increased chance of a heart attack over the next 10 years should be offered treatment, usually statins. Patrick Holford takes a different view and completely disagrees with the routine prescribing of these drugs. I think what he has to say is important so I am quoting him directly here, and leaving you to make up your own mind.

“Statins work by blocking the production of cholesterol, which is a perfectly normal substance, and in the process, stops the body producing Co-Q10, a vital heart nutrient, causing harmful side effects. This was confirmed in research published last month in the journal Nature. As a consequence, statins are far from harmless.

The notion that cholesterol is linked with heart disease goes back over fifty years, along with the idea of bringing cholesterol levels down with a low fat diet to protect the heart. But both of these ideas have been strongly challenged. For example, plenty of studies show that only 50% of people who develop heart problems have high cholesterol, while a study in the BMJ in 2001 found no link between changing fat in the diet and heart disease.

The best known side-effect of statins involves muscles problems. The probable reason for this is that they stop the production of Co-Q10 which is found in all cells (especially those of the heart muscle) and is vital to energy production. In one study of 14 healthy people, 10 developed heart rhythm abnormalities when given statins. This, say some researchers, could explain the muscle weakness and also the memory loss some people experience.

Some practitioners recommend that anyone taking statins should also supplement with Co-Q10 and a warning on statin packets is now mandatory in Canada, saying that CoQ10 reduction ‘could lead to impaired cardiac function’.

In fact the closer you look, the more questionable the benefits become. You might assume that taking prophylactic statins would mean that you would live longer overall. But that isn’t what the studies show. The total number of heart attacks drops slightly but then the risk of dying from other things goes up slightly, so overall life expectancy stays the same.

How can you avoid statins? By doing everything you can to keep your heart healthy. You do that by the well- known – but little enough practiced – regime of eating well with plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains in your everyday diet. Make sure you also include foods that are high in heart-protective Vitamin E, such as beans, olive oil and eggs and reduce the amount of sugary foods, refined carbohydrates and keep your stress levels as low as you can.

Instead of an expensive drug, try lowering your cholesterol levels and heart disease risk by raising your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. A simple, inexpensive way to do that is take a supplement of niacin (vitamin B3), and to further help prevent cardiovascular disease it is suggested that you include a CoQ10 supplement of around 90mg a day. The COQ10 will also help those who are already on statin drugs and wish to stay on them.

If you would like to know more about Patrick Holford’s work, his new book ‘Food is Better Medicine Than Drugs’ would be a good place to start. You can read about it here: Food Is Better Medicine Than Drugs: Your Prescription for Drug-free Health