New Statin Warnings

      87 Comments on New Statin Warnings

Better late than never.  The FDA is finally admitting there are problems with statins:

Federal health officials on Tuesday added new safety alerts to the prescribing information for statins, the cholesterol-reducing medications that are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, citing rare risks of memory loss, diabetes and muscle pain.

It is the first time that the Food and Drug Administration has officially linked statin use with cognitive problems like forgetfulness and confusion, although some patients have reported such problems for years.

I guess now that the patent is expiring on Lipitor, the FDA suddenly realized those problems people have been reporting for years deserve some attention.  But hey, let’s not panic and stop taking these marvelous drugs just yet, folks:

But federal officials and some medical experts said the new alerts should not scare people away from statins. “The value of statins in preventing heart disease has been clearly established,” said Dr. Amy G. Egan, deputy director for safety in the F.D.A.’s division of metabolism and endocrinology products. “Their benefit is indisputable, but they need to be taken with care and knowledge of their side effects.”

Diabetes patients and even those who develop diabetes while taking statins should continue taking the medicines, said Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, who has studied the medicines extensively.

“These are not major issues, and they really do not alter the decision-making process with regard to statins,” Dr. Nissen said.

I see … so developing diabetes isn’t a major issue now – certainly not a big enough issue to stop giving statins to women, the elderly, men without any pre-existing heart disease, or any of the other groups who haven’t actually been shown to benefit from them.  After all, those side effects are rare.

And how do we know the side effects are rare?  Because the medical literature says so, that’s how.  Surely any study that appears in the pages of a respected medical journal has been carefully vetted for accuracy and unbiased conclusions, right?

Hardly.  The video below is of a lecture by Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego, on how pharmaceutical companies have corrupted medical science.  I urge you to watch the entire 20 minutes:

What she describes in her presentation is very similar to what I read in a terrific book titled Anatomy of an Epidemic, which recounts what’s happened to mental health in America since all those lovely psychiatric drugs were introduced years ago.  (Hint:  rates of mental illness haven’t improved.  Quite the opposite.)  The author, Robert Whitaker, devotes an entire chapter to how pharmaceutical companies manipulate studies to exaggerate the supposed  benefits and minimize the incidence of side effects.  As just one example, researchers will try putting prospective subjects on a drug before the official study begins. Those who have negative reactions are excluded.  Well, duh … if you bump the people who exhibit side effects ahead of time, you’ll almost certainly be able to report few side effects at the end of the study.

I sincerely doubt the side effects of statins are as rare as we’ve been told.  Back in 2008, the Wall Street Journal ran an article suggesting that statins might not be so great for the brain.  Here’s a quote:

“This drug [Lipitor] makes women stupid,” Orli Etingin, vice chairman of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital, declared at a recent luncheon discussion sponsored by Project A.L.S. to raise awareness of gender issues and the brain. Dr. Etingin, who is also founder and director of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center in New York, told of a typical patient in her 40s, unable to concentrate or recall words. Tests found nothing amiss, but when the woman stopped taking Lipitor, the symptoms vanished. When she resumed taking Lipitor, they returned.

“I’ve seen this in maybe two dozen patients,” Dr. Etingin said later, adding that they did better on other statins. “This is just observational, of course. We really need more studies, particularly on cognitive effects and women.”

Now … if one doctor has seen memory problems in two dozen women, how rare can that side effect be?

Dr. Etingin at least noticed the connection.  Many doctors don’t.  When elderly people complain of muscle pain or memory loss, doctors often write it off as the usual complaints of old age.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my mom had frequent muscle pains while taking statins, but her doctor never made the connection.  I did.

Here’s more from the Wall Street Journal article:

Thinking and memory problems are difficult to quantify, and easy for doctors to dismiss. Many people who take statins are elderly and have other conditions and medications that could have cognitive side effects.

Still, the chronology can be very telling, says Gayatri Devi, an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, who says she’s seen at least six patients whose memory problems were traceable to statins in 12 years of practice. “The changes started to occur within six weeks of starting the statin, and the cognitive abilities returned very quickly when they went off,” says Dr. Devi. “It’s just a handful of patients, but for them, it made a huge difference.”

Six patients in 12 years isn’t a staggering number.  But Dr. Devi probably noticed those cases because the cognitive problems showed up so quickly, then faded quickly when patients stopped taking statins.  What about people who don’t suffer mental problems immediately?  Could statins cause a long, slow decline in other people that doctors don’t attribute to the drugs?

I certainly think so, based on personal experience.  The picture below is of me visiting my dad at Christmas.  He’s 77 years old and hasn’t recognized me in two years now.   He no longer knows who my mom is and can’t form a sentence.  I still visit him when I’m home for holidays because he’s my dad, I love him, and even though it pains me, I want to see his face.  But the brilliant man with the razor-sharp wit who I knew as Dad has been fading away for almost a decade, as I recounted in a post about Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.  That was the last time he was able to carry on a conversation (sort of) with me.

The brain is made largely of cholesterol, with much of it in the synapses that transmit nerve impulses.  My dad beat his cholesterol down with Lipitor for 20 years.   I can’t prove Lipitor caused the damage to his brain, but while he was still in his 60s, he experienced a couple of day-long episodes of profound confusion remarkably similar to those described by Dr. Duane Graveline in his book Lipitor: Thief of Memory.

Dad started driving erratically in his late 60s, stopped reading books (he’d always been a voracious reader) and became befuddled over simple tasks like using a TV remote.  I took him to see the movie “W” nearly four years ago, and in talking about it afterwards, I realized Dad thought there had been three Presidents from the Bush family.  I asked him if he remembered a guy named Bill Clinton.  He didn’t.

By the time I read Dr. Graveline’s work and made the connection, my dad was in rapid decline.  My mom stopped giving him the Lipitor, which caused my dad’s cardiologist to go berserk and try bullying her.  After all, he no doubt read in medical journals how rare the side effects are for these wonderful drugs.  I offered to fly home from California and shove several pages of research up his colon, but my mom declined.  In one of his rare lucid moments at the time, Dad told my mom he’d rather die of a heart attack than succumb slowly to Alzheimer’s.

When my dad first became confused while still in his 60s, none of the doctors who examined him had a clue what was going on.  Nobody suggested the Lipitor he was taking may be part of the problem.  Perhaps if the FDA had required warnings back then about possible memory loss, someone would have made the connection.  Maybe that would have made a difference, maybe not.  We’ll never know.

Now we’ll see if those warnings have any effect on the statin-pushing doctors.


87 thoughts on “New Statin Warnings

  1. Sigi

    Tom, I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad’s worsening condition. I know how painful it can be for family members to watch their loved one’s deterioration. Thank you for being prepared to use your experience to warn and hopefully benefit others.

    Sending sympathy and warm wishes.

    Thank you.

  2. Marilyn

    Marilyn wrote: “. . .Dr. Graveline’s medical charts mention nothing of the possibility that his condition is caused by a statin. . . .”

    Tom wrote: “He had to make that connection himself.”

    Yes, he did. But my impression is that even though he’s made the connection of his symptoms to statins, and told his doctors about it, so far his doctors have all steadfastly “forgotten” to mention of statins in his medical records. It’s as if none of them believe him. It couldn’t *possibly* be the statins.

    Nope, once they’re convinced they’ve been handed a magic bullet, it’s difficult to change their minds.

  3. ShottleBop

    I was diagnosed as prediabetic in early 2008, based on two fasting blood sugars–127 one day, which prompted a retest, and 123 the next, which spared me being diagnosed as “diabetic”. (My A1c was 6.5–which, under the current ADA recommendations, which were promulgated nearly a year and a half later, would have earned me that label.) Within a few months, I had found Dr. Richard Bernstein’s book, The Diabetes Solution, and started eating low-carb. It has worked to control my blood sugars–my A1cs tend to run in the mid-5% level (glucose meter average in the 90-100 range, but I think I’m a high glycator). So, blood sugar appears to be under control.

    For many people (I’ve read, I forgot where, about 2/3 of them) on a low-carb regime, cholesterol levels normalize. My own risk profile actually improved, but my total cholesterol and LDL soared–TC from the mid-to-high 200s to the high 300s (as high as 381, most recently–two months after dumping all dairy, so as to decrease inflammatory factors in my diet–317); LDL from the high 100s-low 200s to mid-to-high 200s (as high as 280, most recently 230). HDL, however, also soared, from 40 to the high 70s-mid-90s (most recently, 77), and trigs, never higher than the 140s, now run in the 40-60 range (most recently, 41). An NMR test last September reported that 92+% of my LDL was the large, fluffy kind.

    For the past couple of years, my exercise regime included climbing 24 flights of stairs, and riding a stationary bike for 25-30 minutes, 4-5 times a week. Last July, I started experiencing chest discomfort at about the 20th floor, and after 5-10 minutes on the bike. A stress-echocardiogram in late November showed that I had some blockage in my coronary arteries, and, in mid-December, an angiogram turned up a 90% blockage in one of my coronary arteries. A stent was inserted, and within 2 weeks I was back to climbing my stairs and riding my bike, with no discomfort.

    My cardiologist prescribed 40 mg of simvastatin, which I bought, but never took. I attributed my atherosclerosis to stress and inflammation, and decided to address the inflammation by cutting out dairy. Two months later, my TC was down from 381 to 317, and my LDL from 279 to 230. My cardiologist called the day of the test, and prescribed 80 mg generic Lipitor. I went outside of my health plan for a test of my hs-CRP: 0.57–well below the low end of the “normal” range of 1.0-3.0, and indicative of very little inflammation.

    Having read many books about the issue (including a couple of Dr. Graveline’s, both “Great Cholesterol Cons”, “The Cholesterol Myths”, “The Cholesterol Delusion”, “The Cholesterol Conspiracy” (by Russell Smith), and Stephanie Seneff’s articles about the biochemistry of statins) and being familiar with Beatrice Golomb’s work at USCD, I have been extremely reluctant to take the statins (to say the least). Now that I’ve been diagnosed with CAD, however, i’m getting increased pressure from my cardiologist to start them. Even Dr. Graveline recommends (extremely low dose) statins for people at high risk–but not because statins lower cholesterol, because they decrease inflammation. Well, if my recent hs-CRP test is to be believed, I have addressed my issues with inflammation. My cardiologist doesn’t care–he insists that, simply because I’ve had the stent, I need statins REGARDLESS of my LDL, hs-CRP, or any other risk factor. The statistics, he says, show that, for folks like me, the benefits of statins far outweigh the risks.

    My dad was also in the high-risk category because of hyperlipidemia (which I was fortunate not to inherit). The statins didn’t prevent his arteries from becoming blocked.

  4. Scott B

    Thanks for another brilliant post Tom. I, like most people, regret to hear that you were able to make the connection with statins and your father too late. A lot of us have watched these drugs and the diseases they were prescribed to treat ravish our loved one as well…. even though the drugs only have “rare” side effects.

    I am an active duty Soldier and recently had a lipid blood panel done after eating Paleo/Primal for about 2 months. My results were good enough, being on the path to recovery from the SAD, (Glucose 81, A1C 5.1, Tri 83, TC 220, HDL 44, and LDL 149) but my Physician’s Assistant immediately informed me that my cholesterol was too high (especially my LDL) and that I should be put on statins as soon as possible in conjunction with a shift towards a low fat, high carb/fiber diet. I responded that I would not be taking statins any time soon. I returned his e-mail request with questions about the dangers of statins, the difference in types of LDL, and my distrust of anything backed by Big Pharma, FDA, USDA, etc. As of yet, I have not received his reply on these items.

    Thanks for your work on FatHead and all you do to keep up with this blog site. Becuase of your efforts and those of people like Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Gary Taubes, and countless others a lot fo us are out here living much better and cleaner lives much at the chagrin of the folks who push the “Conventional Wisdom”. Keep up the great work!!!

    I accept your thanks, and send it back to you doubled. Thank you for your service to the country. I may bang my head on my desk now and then, but no one is shooting at me.

  5. Patch 14

    I am not at present on statins and from what I have been reading lately, including “The Great Chloresterol Con” I won’t be taking them in the future. I am not overweight, eat a healthy diet, have good blood pressure and my chloresterol level is, by my standards, reasonable, but my Dr insists that I change my diet. (I eat a dairy free, yeast free diet, and have done for nearly a year due to 30 years of IBS driving me to having a private test for intolerances) My GP has been advocating my follow an exclusion diet because of my IBS but now that I have found out the problems I feel the best I have ever done. I have little time for Drs who think that they know best. I question every decision that my GP takes about any treatment I may have, and they have to explain their decisions to me before I accept them. They have done sterling work for my husband and treated his anaemia well, but he is of the “they’re the experts don’t question their decisions” and we do have differences of opinion about this. In the Uk there is a school of thought that statins should be given to EVERY ADULT to keep them healthy!!!!!!!!!! I wouldn’t even entertain the idea. Blanket medication of the population, what are they thinking!!!!!!!!!!

    When everyone’s cholesterol is considered too high, there’s something wrong. As Dr. Kendrick points out, this is the one area where “normal” is considered a disease.

  6. Beowulf

    I think doctors like the statins because they seem to DO something to those lovely numbers they can track (along with the drug company pressure). My dad takes Lipitor, and it really is amazing how much it knocked down his LDL. On the other hand his triglycerides are still way too high and his HDL is too low. Any ratio of his numbers still shows a substantial risk. I have not, however, been able to convince him to get off the dang things. Thankfully he hasn’t had any problematic side effects that we know of…yet.

    On the other hand, I was able to convince my mother to NOT start on statins when her doctor started making concerned noises about her cholesterol. Her HDL is fantastic, her triglycerides are low, and calculated ratios are all in a healthy range.

    One out of two is a start at least.

    Exactly right. The doctors are treating a lab score, not a disease.

  7. Jon

    Maybe my Simvastatin is the reason I drove around the block three times Friday looking for the post office?

    Here’s what you need to do: take just enough of the stuff to cause you to forget you were ever prescribed a statin.

  8. Jon

    I do have a math question. 16% of 20,000,000 is 3.2 million. I do not believe .16% of 20,000,000 remains 3.2 million. .16% is 16/100 x 1/100 x 20,000,000 which should equal 32,000. Ah, I just saw GLO’s post. Glad my math was right. Thanks GLO.

  9. lantenec

    “Who cares what other medical issues you may have as long as you don’t have the dreaded MI? Apparently you are only healthy if you avoid one.”

    You know, this statement just made me realize something. It’s like this guy’s review I came across of Good Calories, Bad Calories on Amazon. It was actually only a 3 out of 5 star review, and he disagreed with a lot Taubes conclusions about diet, etc. but he did make one interesting statement: “It therefore provides an excellent illustration of how scientific knowledge evolves, how the scientific method works in an institutional context (government and industry supported, “big” science), and how science based policy is established.”

    The thing I just realized from your comment is that it’s as if scientists, doctors, etc. are not even interested in treating the problems/curing/alleviating the suffering of individual human beings at all. (Okay, maybe some doctors.) Almost as if all they really want is just specifically to bring down the number of whatever the government considers the most important diseases; the “people for a perfect world” types. “If we could even just save one life it will be worth it.” Depending on what “it” is, well, no it’s not worth it.

    As long as they bring down the numbers the government wants down, they won’t even notice or quantify the other numbers going up. The folly of so-called “public health”.

    I believe most doctors sincerely want to help their patients. Unfortunately, they’ve been conditioned to believe that 1) fat is bad for us, and 2) treating the symptom is the same as treating the disease.

  10. ZergGirl

    This is probably the wrong place to put this, so move or do whatever needs to be done, but I so want an answer I’m just willing to irritate you all. 🙂

    Tom, I love what you do. I have been living La Vida (almost) No Carb since watching FatHead. I lapse at times, but it’s usually for something fried. Don’t hate me, I’m a southern girl…meat covered in flour and fried in lard is just What. We. Do. Also, it be tasty, lol!

    I am dragging my darling hubby into the LCHF lifestyle; not that it took a lot–he’s a natural carnivore. My final hurdle is his adoration of baked potatoes. I will never let him take statins, but this is sort of where my question comes in: he is on Bystolic for a heart condition. The condition in question is that he has too many “pacemaker” nodes in his heart, and they try to take control of his heart pace with arbitrary, harmful rhythms. Bystolic prevents all the secondary nodes from assuming precedence. I have searched for over six years for a natural alternative and haven’t found anything. I would love to know if you or the other LCHF bloggers have found something natural to replace that or if there are long term consequences I need to watch for that haven’t been presented to me….

    I don’t know of any alternatives.

  11. Davida

    Scott B,

    My husband recently retired after 20 years in the Marine Corps. A few years ago, his doc put him on statins. They caused muscle problems and were starting to interfere with PT, so he quit them-a Marine that can’t PT can’t be a Marine, y’know. Keep resisting the docs. 🙂

  12. Katie

    What makes me sad is in all the reports I’ve seen, all of the “experts” quoted say, as you mentioned, that these side effects are incredibly rare and that the benefits of statins clearly outweigh their risks. There was also a lot of emphasis on the removal of the requirement to periodically test liver function–some even said that could serve as a basis for making statins over-the-counter drugs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much positive spin from FDA adding warnings to drugs!

    These are the biggest-selling drugs ever. I’m sorry to say I’m not surprised the FDA is trying to salvage their reputation.

  13. Alexandra

    As I’ve said before, when my former husband complained of severe muscle pain to his P.A. the P.A. “solved” the problem by prescribing 4 Vicodin per day for the rest of my husband’s life.

    That was how my mom’s doctor attempted to “fix” the problem: pain-killers to go along with the statins. Never mind the pain probably indicated there was damage being done.

  14. Davida

    Someone mentioned myelination… I’m taking a developmental psychology course. It covers development, including social, psychological, physical, and whatnot from conception through death. In the early childhood section, it says that a huge increase in myelination takes place from ages two to five, and mentions that this extra fatty substance, makes connections in the brain increase greatly in speed, which increases the rate and amount of knowledge obtained, which is why kids two and under should not have a lowfat diet. Yet the same book, when talking of health problems that affect development, mentions the increase in obesity and that from age 2 a child should reduce the amount of fat intake (which is why WIC will no longer cover whole milk once a child turns 2.) Go figure…when the kids need the extra fat, they are supposed to be denied it.

    It’s completely illogical, but there’s where we’re at right now.

  15. Susan

    Enjoyed the info from Dr. Golomb. She’s one of my heroes, tilting against the windmills of the statin-pushing empire. But she is hard to follow in the video. From the speed with which she spoke and the number of slides she had to skip, it appears she has enough ammunition for at least an hour’s presentation.

    As for your comment that “the doctors are treating a lab score, not a disease.” I can only say “BINGO!” They seem to be unconcerned with treating the underlying causes of disease – especially diabetes and heart disease. If they can just get those numbers down, everything will be okay. Pay no attention to the reason those numbers are up; just force them down with the chemical du jour.

    Last time my doctor argued with me about statins and high LDL numbers I told him it was my belief that high levels of cholesterol do not CAUSE heart disease but they may eventually be found to be a SYMPTOM of heart disease. He got a thoughtful look on his face and quit bugging me. But it’s been almost a year since I saw him and I’m sure I’ll get the same push next time I see him.

    I get the impression Dr. Golomb is trying to squeeze a one-hour speech into 20 minutes. Talk about a mile a minute pace. Great stuff, though.

  16. Gerard ONeil

    Hi Tom, thanks so much for posting info on your blog. After looking over some of my medical records, I thought it would be helpful to post my pre lowcarb and post lowcarb numbers. I have been seriously lowcarbing for 13+ years. I originally lost 55 pounds that I have pretty much kept off (+ or – 5 pounds).
    Here are my lipid numbers:

    Pre lowcarb 11/28/2011 3/15/2010 Post lowcarb 11/15/1996

    Chol 266 277 257
    HDL 155 137 34
    LDL 102 127
    Tri 46 67 415

    On the LDL for 11/15/96, LDL could not be calculated because tri’s were over 400. Anyway, pretty dramatic right.

  17. Gerard ONeil

    That did not come out like I posted. To clatify, the numbers for 11/15/96
    chol257, HDL 34, LDL 127, Tri 415

  18. Gilana

    The scariest part of the “side effect” of muscle weakening is that the heart is a muscle. Every day I find myself hoping that there is indeed recovery from statin damage.

  19. Rebecca Foxworth

    When I first quick-glanced at the title, I read, “New Satan Warnings”. After a quick title re-read, I got “New Statin Warnings”. And now, after reading the article, I think I was right at first glance.

    Call it a visual Freudian slip.

  20. LaurieLM

    I’ve watched it twice and didn’t catch something the first time around that I did the second.
    When I hear people say there is ‘all this evidence’ and so many studies supporting statins, I know that’s not true and there is so little accurate reporting and much is corrupted information. But what I didn’t know is that some charming positive papers were published up to five times as if they were each separate results and conclusions from 5 different studies. She said this was not at all obvious at first and it was difficult to find it and it had to be ferreted out. It’s criminal and it’s scary.
    If the research is suspect from the start- the funding step, if negative results are never published, and if even marginal, somewhat supportive, results are made to look positive by inaccurate glowing conclusions, and THEN, if the same single set of results is published multiple times to make the skimpy pro-statin data look more voluminous, the peer-review process is broken and rotten.

    It is rotten.

  21. Paul451

    Let’s see: the patent expires AND THEN the memory loss and diabetes warnings go on the statin labels.

    The FDA is the Postal Service in white coats.

  22. Rocky

    I’ve watched Dr. Golomb’s piece twice (a former auctioneer, that one) and it’s chilling, not only in its content, but also that she’s not the only informed person calling attention to this.

    As I sit here and listen to her describe a systematic, orchestrated system of fraud and deceit, I find myself asking what are the RICO laws for if not something like this? If only we had a U.S. Attorney who was more than just a political shill…

    Of course, expecting the government to do something in response to a criminal system that they themselves helped propagate is more than a bit naive.

  23. The Older Brother

    I’ve been checking out Marcia Angell after seeing LCNana’s quote.

    Right before stepping down in 2000 after ten years as editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, she wrote an article entitled “Is Academic Medicine for Sale?”

    One of the letters she got in response summed it up perfectly:

    “No. The current owner is very happy with it.”

    Nuff said.


    Perfect reply.

  24. Ron K.

    Free radical damage plays a big role in mental illness for some people. Free radicals destroy brain cells, mitochondria and the myelin sheath. Therapeutic levels of omega3 can repair a lot of this damage, especially to the myelin sheath. Most people are deficient in dha and bringing up the levels of dha and epa has helped many with dementia. The expression “fish is brain food” is very true. Anti-oxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C can decrease the level of free radicals.

    Metals amplify the number of free radicals and should be checked with a hair analysis (Doctor’s Data or Analytical Research Labs). The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are high aluminum. Chelation has been used for over 20yrs to treat Alzheimer’s. Lead, mercury, cadmium and copper also impact cognitive function. Hat makers of old that used mercury (mad as a hatter) exhibited psychosis. A person with high copper (a nutrient) can experience mental illness, even schizophrenia (Wilson’s disease). About a third of all schizophrenics are high copper, it has been called a “free radical disease”.

    Has your father had a hair analysis done?

    No, by the time he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he was fading fast. Nothing we can do now.

  25. Alex

    My mum is taking statins and has type 2 diabetes. Should she talk to the docter about stopping the statins? Also is flax seed or quinoa porridge suitable for diabetics?

    Thanks alot

    Best way to test your reaction to a particular food is to use a glucose meter an hour after eating.

    Your mom’s doctor will probably tell her to keep taking the statins. I’d order her a copy of Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s book “The Great Cholesterol Con” and suggest she read it.

  26. Lisa

    I had to laugh reading your article. As someone in the medical marketing field I know all too well how you can put a spin on a trial. And it is a double edged sword. There is good research and good drugs that have resulted from the research process. But it’s still a business and you have to get the money to continue doing the research somehow, and that has to be by driving business. No one is going to pay the pharma companies to do research, they have to generate the money on their own.

  27. Patch 14

    Today, I visited my Dr to discuss my recent chloresterol results. We have a different measurement system here in the UK so my results may confuse you but suffice to say they are within the higher range of normal. My blood pressure was 98/60, my BMI 24 and I am NOT diabetic. My Dr has asked me to lose 6 kilos, go to WeightWatchers to lose them over 3 months, eat only red meat on “festive days” (Xmas and Easter) and why did she tell me all this? Because “I must get my levels down as both the LDL levels (slightly above normal) and HDL levels (twice normal, and I thought that was good!!!) must come down, as the TOTAL AMOUNT WAS TOO HIGH. In her opinion!!!!!!! She also added “I don’t think we need to think about statins at the moment”!!!!!!
    I don’t intend to think about them at all!!!!!!!!!

    I agree with Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s book “The Great Chloresterol Con” and am now re-reading it. I already eat a dairy free and yeast free diet and have done for the past 12 months, because of intolerances and feel the best I have done in years. I take Omega-3, a vitamin/mineral supplement, Calcium with Vit.D, and Glucosamine with Chlodroitin (for the old joints’ I’m no spring chicken!) and feel great!!

  28. Rhonda Cowsert

    I never knew about the connection between diabetes and statins. UGH!!

    My blood sugars had always been normal but my cholesterol was up a bit a couple of years ago when I visited the doctor. At the time I hadn’t watched FatHead and was toeing the party line on low fat/low calorie diets. When the doctor nearly had a stroke at my cholesterol numbers (249) I hung my head in shame, accepted the script for Lipitor and promised to eat better and exercise more.

    I took the statin for about a week and it was the worst week of my life. Forget moving more, I could barely move off of the sofa. At first I thought I had the flu – my whole body ached, my muscles were weak – just walking the 10 feet from the sofa to the bathroom required a 45 minute resting period to recover.

    Eventually I began to fear there was something more wrong than just a virus. Everyday the fatigue, aches and pains, listlessness, etc. became worse but there was no fever, no other symptoms that would indicate illness. Finally I started to wonder if I was having a weird reaction to my new medication – a quick Google search told me that I probably was having a reaction to my new medication and that it was definitely NOT an uncommon occurrence.

    I stopped taking it immediately and within 24 hours was starting to feel a bit more human but it took another week or so to fully get back on my feet. I’m SO glad that I didn’t keep on with it – hard telling how badly that would have gone. Directly after this experience was when my blood sugars started coming back in the ‘pre-diabetic’ range. Not saying that it’s necessarily the cause because we definitely have a history of it in my family but now I’m wondering if it isn’t the catalyst that pushed me over the edge.

    Your body was telling you something: it needs cholesterol.

  29. Howard

    Hey, Tom! I ran across an article at Less Wrong ( which goes into various reasons why “Science is Broken.” Some of the ideas are things you talked about in your “Science For Smart People.” He identifies 3 breakage points:

    1) Publication bias
    2) Experimenter bias
    3) Bad statistics

    It’s a pretty interesting read.

    Good article.

  30. Jane

    My daughter sent me this link this week:; this daughter has been reluctant to give up her low-fat ways, and she surprised herself by sending this to me. Maybe it’s a start. I was on Lipitor for 5 years; developed Type II diabetes, but had terrible memory issue along with anger management – which is also a side-effect. Against all advice I went off them almost 5 years ago, and I know I’m much the better for it. Still struggling with the diabetes, but that will be a lifetime thing.

    Let’s hope your daughter sees the light before she ends up a diabetic as well.

  31. Stephen Brand, CPT, SFN, SSF

    Tom, so sorry about your Dad. Sometimes I beat myself up with “If only I had known then…”. My daughter was “diagnosed” with bipolar disorder and has been on medications since she was 9 years old; she is now 20. Mental illness/emotional instability runs in our family. Now I’m thinking maybe the wheat has played a part in that. I’ve tried to get her to quit her meds (slowly with the help of her doctor) but she’s afraid. I’m concerned about her long-term brain-chemistry health as well as the health of her liver. And the fact that someday the money to pay hundreds of dollars a month for these drugs will not be there. If I knew then what I know now I would never have agreed to let her take drugs and now she is an adult and I have no say. I’m so angry I could spit s***. One good thing: I was able to convince my wife not to take the statin her doc prescribed. Keep up the good work.

    I’m sorry to hear about your daughter. You might find the book “Anatomy of an Epidemic” enlightening.

  32. Thomas

    Tom you are killing me dude. I think you are doing a real disservice to all of us. You see, we live in this wonderful cozy little world where we can let other people do our thinking for us and never have to examine evidence and think critically about what we believe. If everyone started thinking for themselves like you propose we might end up “following the money” on a lot of things and if we do that we might not trust people in thousand dollar suits and lab coats to know what is best for us.

    I am not sure the world is ready for free people that actually think for themselves. They might start making decisions based on their own interpretation of the evidence and end up being responsible for their own outcomes. Pure chaos man. I for one am not willing to stand by and let this not happen.

    I apologize for any anarchy that may result.

  33. Kim

    I know I’m late to the party here, but I just wanted to chime in. My father is another casualty of statins. He has Type 2 diabetes and was on statins for years. He suffered cognitive decline, muscle pain/weakness and finally statin induced cardiomyopathy. This resulted in open heart surgery to replace aortic valve and triple bypass. Yep, that’s right; statins don’t prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. So my father is an example of the stunning failure of statin drugs to prevent heart disease. He’s 81 now (we’re all shocked) but can’t take care of himself. He quit the statins when he had surgery 2 1/2 yrs. ago but the damage was permanent.

    Never too late to join this party. Sorry about your father.

  34. David B.


    I’m a long-time lurker, first time commenter. I loved the movie, and I’m also a programmer, so I feel like I really _get_ you, haha.

    My wife is 33 and had an ischemic stroke in November (of 2011). All tests give no indication as to why she may have had a stroke at such a young age, but did reveal a PFO ( which could contribute, but not necessarily cause the stroke. She also has some other minor heart defects.

    Some docs want to close the PFO, though there is little data to support this will reduce the risk of recurrent stroke.

    Almost ALL doctors she has seen wants to put her on a statin, likely because of this study:

    It doesn’t help that she just got bloodwork done, with these results:
    HDL: 48
    Cholesterol: 219 (High)
    Triglycerides: 82
    Chol/HDL ratio: 4.6 (High)
    LDL (Calculated): 155 (High)

    So, the docs will now be insisting on the statin. She has been eating pretty well the past few years, but we are transitioning to a more strict paleo diet and are starting strength training…. Needless to say, I’m torn on the issue of the statin. Especially since the above study seems to indicate a LARGE reduction in risk of recurrent stroke.

    Any ideas on this?

    I can only tell you what I’d do. I wouldn’t take a statin. Too many possible side effects. The study appears to a small observational study, and I personally wouldn’t make much of it.

  35. Joanne

    I read this week that doctors get $100 from the pharmas for each person put onto statins. I refuse to get on them. I was on simvastatin for 7 months and I got so sick I could hardly move. My stomach hurt so bad that I could function. I stopped taking them and will never take another statin.

  36. Joanne

    Also, I went to a health food store and was told by one of the men in the vitamin department that I should take red yeast rice as it is the stuff that statins are made from before they “put the poisons into them.” That made my heart feel great to know that I had been taking poisons for 7 months. No wonder my body hurt so bad. I stopped taking the simvastatin and take only the red yeast rice and feel great. Have my energy back, etc. It’s interesting that when I emailed my doctor that my stomach was killing me and I had no energy, he changed me to another statin, and that’s when I switched over to the red yeast rice.

    I wouldn’t even recommend the red yeast rice. The idea that you need to beat down your cholesterol to be healthy simply isn’t true.

  37. Dr. Sydney Bush

    People should try asking editors of journals why my offers to trial statins using CardioRetinometry(R) to determine an ‘end point’ for treatment, i.e. to evaluate reduction
    of blockages in the retinal microvasculature, a predictive surrogate indicator of coronary artery disease, probably more accurate and a thousand times safer than X-Ray angiography, are always rejected. After all, Baycol was withdrawn with damages paid, and the case is mounting for a class action with the reporting of many cases of cognitive impairment to name only one. If studies show that vitamin E is compromised by statins a very strong case would exist for the thousands who have complained of muscle weakness and pain. Reduction of vitamin E also, would prevent claimed life extension despite 30 years of trying. Inhibition of Co-Enzyme Q10 would additionally contribute to early death and the finding that you have to have a first heart attack before any claim can be made for prevention – and then only against having a second! Somebody might even offer to fund a study for me to evaluate these things?


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