Here’s part two of the ABC Catalyst documentary Heart of the Matter, which examines the iffy science behind The Lipid Hypothesis. This episode examines the problems with statins … and it’s so well done, I tweeted the producer and suggested she avoid dark alleys for awhile.

The show was immediately blasted by statin-pushers who warned that people may be frightened into giving up their statins – and DIE AS A RESULT!

Yes, if people stopped taking statins, that could be disastrous … for the pharmaceutical companies.  After all, we’re not just talking about $30 billion in profits from statins; we’re also talking about lord-only-knows how many prescriptions for painkillers, diabetes medications, memory-loss treatments and erectile-dysfunction pills that doctors hand out to treat the side-effects of taking statins.

I’ve seen those effects up close and personal.  My mom ended up taking painkillers for the joint and muscle pains she experienced while on statins — two drugs for one non-existent problem.  (Her cholesterol was a whopping 220 or thereabouts.)  Her doctor, of course, never connected the muscle pain to the statins.  I did, after reading Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s terrific book The Great Cholesterol Con.

My dad, who was on a high dose of Lipitor for two decades, started having occasional episodes of profound confusion and temporary memory loss in his early 60s (not much older than I am now), became increasingly confused in his late 60s, and was diagnosed with full-blown Alzheimer’s by age 72.  I can’t prove the Lipitor caused his condition, but knowing what I know now, let’s just say I don’t think we’re looking at a coincidence.  As far as I’m concerned, that @#$%ing drug robbed him of the chance to enjoy his retirement, work on his golf game, travel with my mom, see my girls grow up, etc.

Fortunately, we’ve been seeing more media articles about these “wonder drugs” over the past few years, as I’ve reported in previous posts.  Here’s a quote from an article in the Pacific Standard:

Dr. Greg Burns (not his real name) is a 72-year-old retired radiologist living in Connecticut. Until early last year, he ran with his dog at canine agility meets, skied, ice skated and played 18 holes of golf. He is now unable to walk and is taking a course of medication that will postpone, by a few months, his death.

Burns’ rapid decline began in December 2007 when he suffered a short-acting stroke from which he fully recovered.

His cholesterol level was elevated and so as a preventative measure his doctor prescribed a 20mg daily dose of Crestor, a cholesterol-lowering drug in the “statin” class. Statin drugs are designed to inhibit cholesterol synthesis, and about 20 million people are taking statins, most for life.

A few months after beginning Crestor, Burns developed muscle cramps. He was assured by his doctors that these were not serious side effects of taking the drug. But in December 2008 when tests showed that his creatine phosphokinase — an enzyme that is released into the blood stream when muscle cells are damaged — was elevated, Dr. Burns stopped taking Crestor. When his enzyme levels returned to normal, he began taking Pravachol, another statin drug. He quickly developed weakness in his lower legs and a right foot drop. In January 2010, following an extensive neurological exam, Dr. Kevin Felice at The Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, Conn., diagnosed Burns as having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

And another quote from TIME magazine:

Doctors say the majority of current statin users are healthy people who don’t have heart disease but who, like Segal, simply have high cholesterol. Use among this group, known as the primary prevention population, has made these drugs one of the world’s best-selling classes.

But Segal’s statin ended up preventing her from living a heart-healthy lifestyle. A month after she started taking the drug, she suffered muscle pain so severe, she had to stop all physical activity and was unable to sleep at night. Although her husband, who was worried about her risk of heart attack, pleaded with her to stay on the drug, she discontinued using it. The muscle pain receded. “My husband was scared for me. Doctors scare you. But I was in so much pain, I told him I would have rather died than stay on them,” says Segal.

That grim situation could have been avoided, researchers say. An estimated 12 million American women are routinely prescribed statins, which carry a risk of serious side effects. Yet there is little evidence that they prevent heart disease in women.

Even the FDA is finally admitting statins can have nasty side-effects:

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.

Those are newspaper and magazine articles.  I’m not sure how many people have read them.  Like it or not, a lot of people get most of their information from their television sets.  That’s why I’m delighted to see a TV network taking a shot at statins.  Now let’s hope some U.S. networks do likewise – but with all the pharmaceutical ads on TV these days, I’m not holding my breath.

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52 Responses to “Statins Blasted On Aussie TV”
  1. Lisa says:

    I have a story almost identical to yours. My father in law has been a high carbohydrate eater all his life. He has been on Lipitor for many years. Last year he was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease after several years of growing confusion. His symptoms worsened literally in a day, when he began having delusions and hallucinations. We begged my mother in law to get him of the statins and the carbs. He is now off the statins, but is truly addicted to carbs. Anyway, it’s too late now. A friend of ours was put on statins when he was only in his late 30′s. We summoned up the courage to tell him they would kill him, but he had already stopped taking them because of muscle weakness and memory loss. Dr Stephanie Seneff produced a research article clearly explaining how stains cause Alzheimers. I am presently reading Brain Grain by Dr David Perlmutter, and it confirms everything I have been researching for the past year.

    My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a year ago, and I did my own research and our whole family now eats low carb, high healthy fat. This is not recommended by our diabetes association or dieticians association (who are sponsored by the wheat and legume board, Kellogs, Nestle and Flora margarine) He is very healthy, despite the diabetes and had blood glucose levels in normal range almost always, and his HbA1c is that of a non diabetic.

    Sorry to hear about your father-in-law. It’s painful to watch a person more or less fade away in front of you.

  2. Sally says:

    I have a very good friend in her late 40s, otherwise healthy but now worried about her “high” cholesterol — it’s in the 220 range.

    Her doc suggested statins.

    I hope she has been convinced by some of the info that I sent her — your film for one –and the fact that the new ranges are arbitrary so ten years ago 220 would be low to normal. But it’s a shame to hear her turn down shrimp because she has “a cholesterol test coming up”.

    Ugh. Eat the shrimp and ignore the doctor. Or eat the doctor and ignore the shrimp. Just don’t listen to the doctor.

  3. Leanne says:

    Tom, would you be so kind as to share that producer’s Twitter address? I’d like to flip her the link to the UBC Theraputics Initiative’s meta-analysis of statins that concluded – twice – “Statins do not have a proven net health benefit in primary prevention populations and thus when used in that setting do not represent good use of scarce health care resources.”

    @MaryanneDemasi

  4. Catherine says:

    Hi, Tom! I received the latest blog from Malcolm Kendrick this morning – you do wonder if you should laugh or cry at it. Here is the link:
    http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2013/11/05/believing-in-impossible-things-there-is-a-trick-to-it/

    My husband was prescribed Simvastatin following a mild heart attack at the end of 2011. I never did understand why, as his cholesterol level, prior to his heart attack, had been below 4 (that’s considered excellent in the UK, as it’s below 5, whatever the hell those figures mean). Firstly I think this proves that whether or not you suffer a heart attack is nothing to do with cholesterol, and secondly, only a couple of weeks later, he could barely climb the stairs to our flat because his legs and body ached so much. He felt constantly tired, and was conscious that he was being forgetful – he’s a very ordered person normally, so this really distressed him. I printed off some of Malcolm Kendrick’s excellent writings and gave them to him to read. He stopped taking the Simvastatin that same day, and within 48 hours, was back to his usual self. UNfortunately, a new GP heralded him having a medication review, and also UNfortunately, he was suckered in, and now takes Atorvastatin. I have to say this doesn’t seem to have given him the same awful side effects, but as his cholesterol was still showing as below 4, I cannot understand why any doctor would feel the need to prescribe them for him anyway. My father has taken a statin since being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 5 years ago. He stopped taking Simvastatin because of all the negative press about it here, but agreed to taking an alternative – I don’t know which one. He is fine, outwardly, but how can you know what’s going on inside? He is nearly 83 now, bless him. My own cholesterol levels were tested back in September, and showed as below 4 (“Wonderful!” said my GP), but I’m not so sure it is!

    Dr. Kendrick’s usual biting analysis. Love that man.

    • Lori says:

      My last cholesterol test showed TC as 135 (3.5 in your part of the world). I asked Michael Eades about this the other day, and he replied, “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.”

  5. robert says:

    Here’s a link to the ‘special edition’. Longer interview videos with some of the experts shown in the show that was aired.

    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/heartofthematter/default.htm

  6. Tanny O'Haley says:

    “Yet there is little evidence that they prevent heart disease in women.”

    Shouldn’t that be, “Yet there is NO evidence that they prevent heart disease in women”?

    I took statins (mostly Lipitor) for a couple of years and stopped when I started having leg pains. Every time I get a blood test they ask me if I’m on statins or drink because my liver levels are high. I don’t drink alcohol nor have I taken statins in I believe 10 years.

    Permanent (or at least long-term) liver damage. Lovely side effect.

  7. Pierson says:

    It’s sad how common this is. Case-in-point, I worked as a CNA when I was in my early 30s, and one of my clients was a man who had a major stroke some years before, and–although more independent than he initially was–still had issues with memory loss, poor speech, muscle pain, depression, etc. He was also on a large amount of statins, and was being fed a low-fat diet consisting of rice, bread, oatmeal, fruit, some veggies, skinless lean chicken, etc., by my seventh-day Adventist dietician then-coworker. I was eventually allowed to get some eggs, meat, and coconut oil into his diet somewhat (thanks to his more open POA), but it wasn’t much, and he was still quite dependent on carbs for energy. Looking back, that plan was really the worst thing that could’ve been done for him, and had I known then what I know now about statins, fats, and brain health, I definitely would’ve been more vocal about my concerns

    If I’d known 15 years ago what I know now, I would have done whatever was necessary to get my dad off those brain-destroying pills.

  8. Lori K says:

    My mom is 84 years old and has been on statins for awhile now. She is a smoker and has high blood pressure, so I guess she’s in the “at risk” category and may or may not benefit from the drug. But now she’s recently developed diabetes (from the statins), and has obvious loss of memory and some confusion. I printed out the FDA article and also sent her a copy of the book “The Truth about Statins”, then called to talk to her about it. I tried to explain that it was the medication causing her new issues, and she should talk to her doctor and show him the article and ask if the statins were really necessary. I don’t think she’ll do it, because she’s already said that “she can’t go against the doctor’s orders”. (Yeah, except when the doctor tells her to quit smoking!) Sigh. Hard to watch a strong, proud woman give up on life like she has. Like most people, it’s much easier for her to take a pharmacy full of pills every day than to change lifestyle and eating habits.

    I’m sorry to hear that.

  9. Galina L. says:

    I was always reading the statines horror stories like tales about some people who I wouldn’t ever met. Today the statine-strike happened close to home. I just came from a dental cleaning which I always do in the office of my periodontist who did gum surgeries on me before I went on a LC diet, and I know him for more than 12 years. I was told he was in a process of getting into an early retirement because he couldn’t do surgeries any longer, and a young replacement doctor already started to perform surgeries. My doc is just under 55 yo, three years ago he was prescribed a statine drug, took it for one year and a half, developed a problem with leg muscles, stop taking that. The leg weaknesses didn’t go away complitely, and recently he started to notice something was getting wrong with his hands, they started to shake. He had a biopsy, and was told statines damaged his hands muscles. He is trying to get disability as well. I was told all that by a dental hygienist, she also told her mom was put on statines a year ago because her total cholesterol got slightly over 220, her memory and mental agility got way worse, and my hygienist didn’t feel like interfering, just got mildly concerned. It is a mystery for me how people who observe stories which demonstrate statines dangers, still feel that it may give some benefits to their loved ones, or at least would not cause harm.

    Your doctor is my age and he has to quit his profession? That’s horrible.

  10. Cary L says:

    After watching this excellent video I clicked on this piece also produced by ABC Catalyst …

    Toxic Sugar? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU3GvRsFHqY

    Mirrors your message in Fat Head with contributions from Lustig and Taubes :-)

  11. Beowulf says:

    Statins are one reason I avoid doctors. They want to do a whole blood panel just to find “problems” in a healthy person that can be fixed with nasty medication.

    Under the [un]ACA, I wonder how long it will take for the yearly physical and bloodwork to become mandatory to keep one’s insurance (and one will be fined for losing insurance)?

    I wonder how long after that it will become mandatory to take statins and other damaging drugs or lose your insurance (and pay a hefty fine)?

    Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I can see the dominoes falling that way in the next decade.

    You’re not being paranoid. Once the “we’re subsidizing your healthcare” excuse kicks in, they’ll be tempted to dictate what you must do to keep it. That’s how the USDA justifies mandating what’s served in school lunches.

    • Firebird7478 says:

      And we’ve just been told by a politician that they know better than we do about how to take care of ourselves. Wish I could remember who?

      The name escapes me. Maybe this one?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-nb4dKXA2o

    • Nads says:

      We have Medicare for all in Australia and we don’t have to do anything anyone says. But they still all give out the stooopid health advice though.

      That may be how it works in Australia, but that’s not how it will work here. Washington is full of politicians who believe that once they take your money, it’s now their money, so they can attach all kinds of conditions to giving some of it back to you.

    • gcrew says:

      I am employed by a healthcare facility and I don’t have their insurance (use hubbys), but they require all policyholders to do a yearly screening that includes BMI, blood work to include cholesterol, and a questionnaire. If you fail to do this you must pay a monthly penalty. I don’t think it will be long before this is used against them.

  12. Tricia says:

    My MIL has high cholestorol levels and her doctor is pushing a statin. DH and I try to convince her that it’s a bad idea but I think she holds the doctor’s authority in high regard and tends to tune out what we’re saying. She grew up on a farm and probably ate a mostly Paleo diet but the 80′s completely wrecked her way of thinking. I’m very worried as her mother just passed away from Alzheimer’s and I don’t want to see her go down the same road. I’ll try to see if she’ll watch the video but it seems to be getting to the point where there’s nothing more to convince her since the “good doctor” is steering her in a different direction. The ironic part is that her husband, my FIL, is the person who first introduced DH and me to the Paleo diet. His doctor (now retired) is the one who told him about it because of his cholesterol numbers weren’t balanced in the right proportions.

    Like it or not, a lot of older people think doctors know everything.

  13. Cathy says:

    “rare risks of memory loss, diabetes and muscle pain.” Huh!? More than a year ago when a Co-worker was suffering muscle pain and before I had heard about that being a side effect of statins, I did a search and found mainstream sources reporting muscle pain in anywhere from 10 to 30% of users. The 10% number was on a drug company page. Even 1 in10 is far from rare. After his doctor tried a different medication without success, my friend stopped taking his statins and all the pain stopped.

    Drug companies do their best to screen out the people who will suffer side effects during a clinical trial. That way they can report a low incidence of side effects.

  14. Babs says:

    Not to totally change the subject, but you are talking about greedy drug companies and their govt cronies…So I have to ask…what do you make of the vaccination literature?

    I think a lot of the fear of vaccinations is overblown.

  15. Jill says:

    Here’s part of the Aussie backlash:

    http://scepticalnutritionist.com.au/?p=1121
    Fair enough, looking at the experts’ qualifications, but notice that scepticalnutritionist intakes for granted the worth of stains/pharma companies et al?

    Anyone who wants a good laugh go to http://www.facebook.com/NationalHeartFoundation and read the comments of people furious at the Heart Foundation misinformation.
    MARVEL at the runningforcover answers of the HF!
    GASP at the constant ‘trust me I’m an expert”statment of various doctors.

    Apparently a lot of patients are questioning their docs about statins, described as doctors “under siege”.:
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/health/abcs-catalyst-program-on-cholesterol-will-kill-people-dr-norman-swan/story-fni0diac-1226753370639

    Isn’t it funny how noone welcomes the increased opportunity for people to work on their own health, in consultation with their doctors?;)

    I love the backlash. That means they’re scared.

    • Toxicologist says:

      So what is your Ph.D. in? Molecular biology, biochemistry, toxicology, pharmacology? Maybe the better question would be where did you get your GED. The ONLY source for medical/pharmacological research is in peer reviewed medical journals. That is where I, as a toxicologist, get mine, and I frequently call the principles who authored the study if I have a question. Do you? Of course not. You are one of these paranoid, conspiracy kooks who honestly believe you’re smarter than educated professionals, even if you lack even a basic education in the subject you feel so qualified to comment on. You are one person I would strongly encourage to stop taking your statin. When you feel that stabbing pain in your chest just take your homeopathy kook pills and drop over dead.

      Got that, Jill? You’re not allowed to think for yourself on these things because you don’t have a degree in biology. And you’re certainly not allowed to listen to Dr. Beatrice Golomb (M.D., PhD in biology, researcher at UCLA) or Dr. Uffe Ravnskov (M.D., PhD in nephrology) or Dr. Michael de Longeril (M.D., Professor of Medicine, researcher at the National French Centre for Scientific Research) when they tell you the statin trials have been manipulated and cherry-picked to put a positive spin on statins — because (and here’s the important part!) THE ONLY reliable source for research is in medical journals which depend heavily on advertising by pharmaceutical companies — because there’s no conflict of interest there or anything like that.

      • Cameron Baum says:

        Sorry… Did you mean you were educated, or indoctrinated?

        Waving a piece of paper around does not convince me you truly know your subject. It mearly means you think you do.

        Statins are nasty things. I was terrified the last time I went to the doctor into taking them… As a preventative measure. I was honestly walking around, thinking “I am going to die.” Even the catherter suite staff I talked to said they were needed, becaise the cholesterol was clogging up my blood. After two and a half weeks of feeling side effects, I sat down and researched what cholesterol was, then looked into statins. In an evening, I stopped being scared of cholesterol. I instead became terrified of statins.

        Tuns out, my health problems were connected to what I had said to the doctor in the first place. Stress and diet. Stress over the years had done damage to my body, hence thw liver making too muh cholesterol. And I have severe issues with wheat. Other grains too, but mostly wheat. And vegetable oils do me mischief also.

        You keep being an expert, I’ll keep listening tp my body, and we will both be fine.

        The toxicologist won’t believe your side effects were from the statin because you don’t have a degree in biology.

      • Taysha says:

        Here you go – My MS is in biochemistry, my degree in biology and I work in oncology research.

        I read medical journals all the time. The amount of backpedaling when the conclusions don’t fit is astounding. Not to say anything of the incomplete data and statistical calisthenics.

        As a toxicologist, do YOU read PubMed? Because I doubt it.

      • nianbo says:

        you gave me cancer

  16. Tami says:

    I just had a health check. The conversion was a bit hard but my total cholestreral is over 250 and my hdl is over 60 (6.53 and 2.0 in our numbers)

    I am also female, 40, 130 pounds, and 5’4.

    Not rushing out to get me some statins :)

    • Toxicologist says:

      There is no rush. The heart attack that will kill you in your 50′s is still a ways off. Only begin taking statins if you want to see 60. If you are so concerned about your health why are you so over-weight? At 130 pounds you should stand about 5’9″ tall. You are carrying around an extra 25-30 pounds. That is borderline obesity. An extra 10 pounds is fine and slightly over-weight people actually live longer than slightly under-weight people, but that still leaves you with about 20 pounds, or 15% of your current weight, to lose first. Your HDL of 60 is excellent. Your cholesterol of 250 is also just high-normal. But keep in mind that stains do NOT work by lowering your cholesterol. This is a very common error in a correlation and causation. We now know that the statins work through modulation of the immune system and it’s response to inflammation. If you have a history of heart disease in your family, you are at risk regardless of your blood lipids. Blood lipids (cholesterol levels primarily) are a correlating factor, but are not the cause of heart disease. You should begin taking statins during early, peri-menopause, so sometime within the next ten years. Statins are a miracle drug that have been proven to prevent many kinds of cancer (prostate most recently in the literature). They also prevent post-operative dementia in the elderly, but most importantly, they have been PROVEN to prevent heart attacks and strokes in peer reviewed medical journals by the best physician Ph.D.’s in the world. I am a toxicologist and hear this unscientific BS put out by quacks and kooks all the time. These kooks, including this author, are under-educated, do not understand basic scientific principles, and the conduct of empirical research by highly regarded scientists and physicians who have achieved a level of education they do not posses the intellect to achieve themselves. If your physician prescribes a statin, take it.

      Be a good girl. Listen to your doctor. Take your statins. And when you start experiencing muscle pain and memory loss, remember: those aren’t side effects of the statins unless your doctor says they are. You don’t have the intellectual capacity to figure these things out for yourself. Only highly regarded scientists being paid by pharmaceutical companies to produce pro-statin study results have the intellect to make those connections.

      Hey, Mr. Scientist, speaking of basic scientific principles: care to cite the randomized clinical trials in which statins were “proven” to prevent cancer? Or are you citing observational studies that can’t prove any such thing? People with high cholesterol have lower rates of cancer. People who take statins have high cholesterol. See any possible confounding variables in those observational studies that “prove” statins prevent cancer, Mr. Basic Scientific Principles?

      • AG says:

        I couldn’t even get through your whole spiel… telling somebody they are borderline obese at 5’4 and 130! Without even knowing Tami’s body type, that is a ridiculous assumption.

        At 5’6″ and 130lbs, I was told I shouldn’t lose anymore weight. If I were 5’9″ and 130lbs, with my frame, people would probably think I was anorexic.

        People like you that say idiotic things so confidently have already lost me… because even if you do have something worthwhile to say I don’t trust your judgement anymore.

        Also, since you get to call the author an under-educated kook, I should be able to call you what you are… a real a-hole.

        I’m still chuckling that Mr. Scientist told me I don’t understand basic scientific principles, then informed us that statins have been “proven” to prevent cancer …. based on associations found in observational studies that aren’t proof of anything.

      • nianbo says:

        haha ur a real dipsh*t seriously u morons go post anything like this o yea ur a troll obviously f***ing dipsh*t

      • Naomi says:

        Mr. Toxicologist, according to most doctors’ beloved BMI chart, a weight of 130 at a height of 5’4″ is well within the normal range. I don’t know where you’re getting your information. Maybe you should get a degree in medicine and nutrition, or just take a basic high school health class, before spewing anymore of your toxic and ignorant poison on others.

  17. Gemma says:

    First of all big thanks for all the work done also by you, Tom, in the fight against the dogmas. If I uńderstand it right, it was you who dug up the old footages of Ancel Keys etc. and Maryane Demasi could used them in her episodes.
    My question is: is it generally known to the public about the history of discovery of statins and the approval process? As described for instance here in the book by James & Hannah Yoseph (reviewed here: http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2013/10/how-statin-drugs-really-lower-cholesterol-and-kill-you-one-cell-at-a-time/)
    And taking into account that the Japanese discoverer of statins, Mr Endo himself knew, what he discovered: “When asked why he wouldn’t take it for his own high cholesterol, he answered with an inscrutable Japanese proverb, “The indigo dyer wears white trousers.” To make sense of that you need to know indigo dye is toxic.” quote from another article here: http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-up-reviews/how-statin-drugs-really-lower-cholesterol-by-james-yoseph-and-hannah-yoseph-md

    I dug up the footage of the doctor who pleaded with the McGovern committee to wait for the evidence to come in before making recommendations to the American people, and McGovern replying that a Senator doesn’t have time to wait for every last shred of evidence. Maryanne Demasi found some good Ancel Keys footage I never saw before.

  18. Elle says:

    In early Feb of 2012 I helped prepare my grandparent’s house for my grandad to come home from the hospital and enter into palliative hospice care. He had been suffering dementia for five years and when he came home it was clear he didn’t have much time. He was very weak, couldn’t follow the thread of a conversation, couldn’t swallow water without thickener, and just stayed in bed watching the birds on the porch and petting his dog.

    As part of the care they took him off every medication except his blood pressure meds. Then there was nothing to do but keep him comfortable and wait for him to pass away. There was already a diagnosis: “adult failure to thrive.”

    Four months later he graduated out of hospice care. His memory isn’t back entirely, but his personality is. He dances to jazz music, mows the lawn, drinks regular coffee, and reads the paper every morning. He’s not doing great, but he came back from “just a few weeks.” Back from miserable and withdrawn to happy and friendly.

    One of the medications they took him off of? Statins. Foods he’s eating now? Bacon, and a fair amount of it. Grandma and his doctors figure that there’s “no harm” if he ends up having a heart attack at this point. He’s happy and his quality of life is pretty high.

    6 weeks to a fading death to a happy guy who’s been hanging around for almost two extra years so far.
    I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

    I don’t think so either.

  19. Gilana says:

    Same story with my father. Low-fat, statins, diabetes. He started falling, having car accidents, losing memories, forgetting who was dead/alive in his life. In the end, he went “quickly”. If you can call falling in front of the refrigerator, suffering a diffuse brain injury, and being on life support for 3 more days “quickly”. Ugh. I was given statins when I was 32. I’ve been off them for a few years now. Yeah, I hate that I use to believe doctors knew everything.

  20. Toxicologist says:

    What a pile of horse manure. I guess if you are the typical, paranoid, conspiracy kook who uses stupid terms like “Big Pharma” as if it is a monolithic boogie man made up of comic book villains, than you’ll love this stuff and accept it unquestioningly like a good little brain-dead robot. However, if you use your brain you’ll figure out that he makes numerous mistakes in this article before you are done reading the first few paragraphs. Statins do not cause dementia, in fact, they have been PROVEN, through empirical evidence to protect against post-operative dementia in the elderly, and prevent the formation of the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer Disease. Statins do not cause ALS, and no reputable medical researcher has ever made this outrageous claim for which there is not a shred of evidence. Doesn’t this author understand the difference between empirical evidence and antidotal evidence? Do you? Antidotal evidence is NOT science. This author does not even understand the basic mechanism by which the statins act. It is NOT by reducing one’s cholesterol. If he bothered to read the current research in REAL medical journals instead of books by other crazies he would know this. The statins act through immunomodulation, not the lowering of blood lipids. Statins have been PROVEN to prevent heart attacks and extend life for those who have had a heart attack already. They also reduce one’s risk of developing certain types of cancer. The condition called rhabdomyolysis that involves muscle destruction occurs extremely rarely and statistically one benefits over-all much more than this extremely rare, and revisable condition. If you are prescribed statins take them. This author is a kook dispensing dangerous and false information. People like this belong in prison. I am a real scientist, a toxicologist. This is my field of expertise, and I’m telling you to completely disregard this article and take your medications as directed by your doctor. Your physician knows far more than this ignorant clown.

    The author has read research — lots of it. The author understands that while statins were once purported to work by lowering the cholesterol, the statin-pushers are now changing the story and saying statins work by lowering inflammation — which means 1) statins aren’t necessary because other, less-destructive drugs lower inflammation and 2) statins beat down a person’s cholesterol for no good reason, with lots of potential nasty side-effects.

    The author also understands that “antidotal” (which I presume means something that prevents dotes) evidence doesn’t constitute proof. Neither does “anecdotal” evidence, and neither do associations gleaned from observational studies … which means the author understands that there have been no randomized clinical trials in which statins were shown to prevent dementia — only observational studies in which statins were associated with lower rates of dementia … which means the toxicologist is full of shit when he says statins have been PROVEN to prevent dementia.

    The author also believes that when the FDA releases new warnings stating that statins may cause memory loss, it’s probably because statins cause memory loss. The author also believes that when thousands and thousands of people report they experienced muscle pain that went away when they stopped taking the statins, it’s highly likely statins cause muscle pain. Since “statin-induced myopathy” and “statin-induced mitochondrial destruction” are discussed in the medical literature, the author is convinced that when the toxicologist claims that muscle destruction is “extremely rare” and “revisable” (as opposed to “reversible”?), the toxicologist is a dangerous, statin-pushing clown who belongs in prison.

    Finally, the author doesn’t consider people whose resumes show that they work in the pharmaceutical industry to be the most objective commentators on the pros and cons of the world’s most profitable drugs.

    • Firebird7478 says:

      Funny how the “professionals” who stand to financially benefit from statins say their studies are concrete and irrefutable, yet studies that show the opposite to be true are “anecdotal”.

      Interesting how that works.

    • Nowhereman says:

      I seriously doubt that “Toxicologist” is really of that profession, just another troll. It didn’t take me but five minutes to find dozens of peer reviewed scientific papers on the negative side-effects of statins. For example:

      Cholesterol levels and risk of hemorrhagic stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
      Wang X, Dong Y, Qi X, Huang C, Hou L.
      Department of Neurosurgery, Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23704101

      The effect of rosuvastatin and atorvastatin on erectile dysfunction in hypercholesterolemic patients.
      Nurkalem Z, Yıldırımtürk O, Ozcan KS, Kul S, Canga Y, Satılmış S, Bozbeyoğlu E, Kaya C.
      Siyami Ersek Training and research hospital department of cardiology. serhandr@gmail.com.

      Study title and authors:
      Modifiable and nonmodifiable risk factors for postoperative delirium after cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass.
      Burkhart CS, Dell-Kuster S, Gamberini M, Moeckli A, Grapow M, Filipovic M, Seeberger MD, Monsch AU, Strebel SP, Steiner LA.
      Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland. cburkhart@uhbs.ch

      This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20227891

      Note that study title on delirium there

      This study was published in Intensive Care Medicine 2006 Jan;32(1):160-4

      Study title and authors:
      Statin therapy prior to ICU admission: protection against infection or a severity marker?
      Fernandez R, De Pedro VJ, Artigas A.
      Critical Care Center, Hospital de Sabadell, Institut Universitari Parc Tauli, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Parc Taulí s/n, 08208 Sabadell, Spain. rfernandez@cspt.es

      This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16086178

      This study examined the impact of statin therapy on hospital death rates in patients at a high risk of acquiring infections while in an intensive care unit. Data was analysed from 438 patients at high risk of intensive care unit acquired infections, i.e., those receiving mechanical ventilation for more than 96 hours.

      The study found that patients who were taking statins had a 53% increased risk of death in hospital compared to patients not on statins.

      This paper was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal May 6: 2008

      Study title and author:
      Statins – Safe?
      Dr Herbert H. Nehrlich

      This paper can be accessed at: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/178/5/576.abstract/reply#content-block

      Dr Nehrlich, a doctor from Australia, discusses the effects of statin drugs.

      (i) Statins reduce the body’s production of mevalonate through the suppression of a liver enzyme called hydroxymethylglutaryl (HMG) coenzyme A reductase.
      (ii) This enzyme is crucial in enabling the body to synthesize such substances as cholesterol, Co-enzyme Q-10 etc., substances that are essential for every living cell.
      (iii) So, if you reduce the supply of mevalonate, the liver can no longer keep up production of sufficient cholesterol and has to slow the shipping of cholesterol from the depot (liver) to the various areas in need of it via the bloodstream. Hence, blood cholesterol will be lower in lab tests.
      (iv) Mevalonate is not just important in this respect but is heavily involved in muscle metabolism as well as in the production of thromboxane. Thromboxane, of course, is the agent responsible for the important stage in healing called clotting and originates in the platelets of our blood.
      (v) Mitochondria are energy factories that MUST have coenzyme Q- 10, the very substance that is in short supply when people undergo statin treatment.
      (vi) The dismal success record of statin treatment, combined with their sometimes atrocious side effects (identified and hidden) makes the prescription of statins in humans an assault with unknown and likely dire consequences.
      (vii) People tend to die with low cholesterol blood levels.
      (viii) May I ask for the studies that have shown that lowering cholesterol is reasonable and thus good practice? Statins are safe? Let us look at the PROSPER Trial and the all cause mortality. It is not improved by statins.
      (ix) I prefer to see cholesterol as an extremely vital substance, essential for good health and indispensable when it comes to repair and maintenance of the body.
      (x) Statins are now Big Pharma’s golden goose and the price of gold is rising.
      (xi) If we think of rhabdomyolysis, of transient global amnesia and of the propensity of statins to initiate cancer in many animals, if we consider the truly dismal success of statin treatment then we can skip looking at the plausibility of using these drugs altogether.
      (xii) Statins are mayhem to Coenzyme Q-10 and it follows that statins may thus weaken the heart. They may cause cancer in humans.

      Dr Nehrlich concludes: “There is no evidence that statins are safe”.

      This last one here is really scary. In cutting the process that produces cholesterol, statins are destroying production of the extremely vital Coenzyme Q-10. Hmmmm… This is exactly what is mentioned in the Catalyst documentary. And there are a lot more studies than the examples shown here. A lot more.

      I’ve read some of those myself. That’s why I wouldn’t take a statin unless you held a gun to my head. (I said as much to my doctor when he suggested I might consider a statin for my “high” cholesterol. He was pretty cool about it. Just said, “Okay, never mind that.”)

      The toxicologist’s email included his name, so I looked him up. Yes, he’s a real scientist. And he works in the pharmaceutical industry. No surprise he was so offended by a show suggesting the world’s most profitable drugs are dangerous. I think he was under the impression that people in this audience don’t actually read the science and he could dazzle us with his credentials. Not a good strategy for a blog where “Scientists are freakin’ liars” is a common refrain.

      • gollum says:

        “toxicologist” being genuine would proof – I mean, prove, your point in some ironic way.

        But did you check (by reply-test) whether the owner of the e-mail address and the poster are the same person?

        Naw, I didn’t see the need to take it that far. I looked up the name, found a c.v. for a toxicologist who works in the pharmaceutical industry. It all made sense then.

    • nianbo says:

      oh hoho the troll is at it again u big pharma sponsored dipsh*t of a person go f*** yourself BITCH!

      • nianbo says:

        yea he is such a big piece of sh*t he oh yeah i said it he is obviously a troll and he is a pissed off big pharma paid dipsh*t troll so f*** you toxicologist u f***ing immature c*nt go f*** yourself before posting random bullsh*t BITCH!!!

  21. Namu says:

    Off-topic but I wonder if you’ve seen this yet Tom: http://www.nationalpost.com/m/wp/blog.html?b=life.nationalpost.com/2013/03/31/school-based-healthy-living-programs-triggering-eating-disorders-in-some-children-canadian-study

    Canadian school kids develop anorexia from their ‘healthy eating’ classes.

    No, but that would make for a good post. Thanks.

  22. Gemma says:

    Dr Abramson in the above mentioned Special Edition mentions in time 9:50 something important which was not included in the episode itself:
    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/heartofthematter/default.htm
    That in 2011 the AHA guidelines for treating women were silently changed. Women older > 60 and not considered a high risk are not strictly recomended for statin therapy:
    “  In women >60 y of age and with an estimated CHD risk >10%, statins could be considered if hsCRP is >2 mg/dL after lifestyle modification and no acute inflammatory process is present (Class IIb; Level of Evidence B). ”

    Read it here and open Table 4: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/123/11/1243.full

  23. Tom,

    Just found another report from the UK dated November 1st urging their health system to stop pushing Statins and counting total Cholesterol to the point of ignoring other factors. My wife is diabetic and takes statins at her Dr. orders no matter how much research I show her about how bad they are in general and for women in particular.

    http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/articles/diabetes-news/15405-saturated-fat-not-the-cause-of-heart-disease

    The tide is slowly turning, but lots of people will suffer from the effects of statins in the meantime.

  24. Ulfric Douglas says:

    My mothed died of Statins : she was a typical Doctor-believer who took all sorts of crap for blood-pressure and whatever : she should have been taking ZERO pills.
    The statins created metacarpal syndrome (they intentionally misdiagnose this to throw you off the scent) then memory loss, then Alzheimers, then DEATH. They also show statistics of less than 10% of Statins-victims having adverse symptoms. I observe 100% having such symptoms. Go figure!
    I keep my options open, I still have the name of her murderer.

    Easy, now. Don’t do anything that will land you in jail.

  25. Jill says:

    Tom, i keep hearing that if you’ve had a heart attack and/or stroke you should be on statins.
    Is this true, and do you have any useful links that could elucidate this??

    Also what if you have a pacemaker? Does this necessitate statin drugs?

    I have more questions but if you cna help with this I should be able to eventually work it out.
    :) Thanks, hope this is not bothersome.

    The only group that truly appears to benefit from statins are those who have already had a heart attack. Keep in mind the benefit is small … you’d need to give 100 of those people statins to prevent one cardiac event. Here’s a quote from an article by Chris Kesser on the size of the benefit:
    ——————————————–
    http://chriskresser.com/the-diet-heart-myth-statins-dont-save-lives-in-people-without-heart-disease

    An analysis by Dr. David Newman in 2010 which drew on large meta-analyses of statins found that among those with pre-existing heart disease that took statins for 5 years (1):

    96% saw no benefit at all
    1.2% (1 in 83) had their lifespan extended (were saved from a fatal heart attack)
    2.6% (1 in 39) were helped by preventing a repeat heart attack
    0.8% (1 in 125) were helped by preventing a stroke
    0.6% (1 in 167) were harmed by developing diabetes
    10% (1 in 10) were harmed by muscle damage

    Statins do reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in people without pre-existing heart disease. However, this effect is more modest than most people assume. Dr. Newman also analyzed the effect of statins given to people with no known heart disease for 5 years (5):

    98% saw no benefit at all
    1.6% (1 in 60) were helped by preventing a heart attack
    0.4% (1 in 268) were helped by preventing a stroke
    1.5% (1 in 67) were harmed by developing diabetes
    10% (1 in 10) were harmed by muscle damage

    These statistics present a more sobering view on the efficacy of statins in people without pre-existing heart disease. They suggest that you’d need to treat 60 people for 5 years to prevent a single heart attack, or 268 people for 5 years to prevent a single stroke. These somewhat unimpressive benefits must also be weighed against the downsides of therapy, such as side effects and cost. During that hypothetical 5 year period, 1 in 67 patients would have developed diabetes and 1 in 10 patients would have developed muscle damage (which can be permanent in some cases, as we’ll see later in this section).

    In addition, while statins do moderately reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attack in people without heart disease, they’ve never been shown to extend lifespan in this population. This is true even when the risk of heart disease is high. In a large meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials by Kausik Ray, MD and colleagues published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, statins were not associated with a significant reduction in the risk of death from all causes. (6)
    ——————————————–
    I don’t like those odds.

  26. Jill says:

    Thanks so much Tom, I will go through this (Chriskesser material).

    A note re media:
    Just phoned the Talking Health program on 3AW – they’re discussing cholesterol in light of the Catalyst program – and relayed some of what I have learned in the past few years. They regarded it however as me having a “view” and looking for people who support it – a significant insight into how so many people do things.

    Need I say that that is NOT what I have done? Some guy rang up and accused me of showing off my “medical knowledge”. Oh mea culpa – how dare I relay information! He spent more time complaining than asking his question!
    (Another one said I was informative, so all the info I’ve read & passed on proved useful to someone!)

    IF you want to hear the program, it is available by podcast.
    I recommend it because the way they responded not just to my question but in general to the Catalyst program – look up Talking Health podcasts Dr Sally Cockburn 3AW Nov. 10, 2013. The way the terms, debate, views, information and evidence gets mixed up like that is astonishing – a lesson in itself.
    Hearteningly the two doctors, while they favour statins, still recommend further analysis.

    I spoke just after the first 1/2 hour. The whole program is 2 hours – it goes by quite fast and their discussion inlight of the Catalyst program is very interesting.

    I mentioned your movie as well Tom!!;)

    One issue I have is that when I’ve rung up the radio with the info I’ve learned what I’m trying to do is to show people is that there are questions in better directions they can ask their doctor eg as per Dr Davis’ recommendation that people get their small LDL particles checked rather than ask about HDL/LDL levels.
    Sometimes this seems to come across as me presenting myself as an “authority” but I always try to get across that I am learning and am passing on what I have learned.

    Occasionally tjhis gets confused in the transmission. :)

    Well, all you can do is keep putting it out there. Lots of people will be closed-minded and assume doctor always knows best, but you may convince a few people to look into it.

  27. Jill says:

    Here is the webpage if you want to follow up:

    http://www.3aw.com.au/talkinghealth

    for podcasts, today’s is not yet there (at time of writing. It should be there quite soon.).

  28. j says:

    Sorry for the long link.

    New guidelines urge wider use of cholesterol-lowering drugs to reduce heart attacks, strokes:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/new-guidelines-urge-wider-use-of-cholesterol-lowering-drugs-to-reduce-heart-attacks-strokes/2013/11/12/4515de96-4bd7-11e3-bf60-c1ca136ae14a_story.html?hpid=z1

    Funny how when they revisit these issues, they always conclude the answer is to sell more drugs.

  29. Gemma says:

    Even worse: new AHA Guidelines of 11/2013 will put almost everybody on statin therapy:
    http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437738.63853.7a

    • Walter Bushell says:

      “The apparent problem prompted one leading cardiologist, a past president of the American College of Cardiology, to call on Sunday for a halt to the implementation of the new guidelines.”

      Certainly that indicates they’ve gone way way way too far.

      As we know there is no evidence that statins help any class of women, and the benefit to even men with previous heart attacks in minimal at best.

  30. John says:

    It’s a shame that the guy at the end promoted the Mediterranean diet as the cure-all for heart disease “I think virtually everyone can agree with that.” Diets like that have gotten us into this problem in the first place. Wish he would have just kept his mouth shut, honestly. It is kind of interesting that the Mediterranean diet is usually compared to the low-glycemic index diet as one in the same, but the food pyramid for the MD is largely dominated by grains and starch.

    Good video overall though. My dad has been on Lipitor for quite a while now, and I’m only now finding out what it actually does. I told him to get off of it a year ago when he literally fell down in the kitchen 30-60 mins after taking his dose. To combat that fun effect on him, he now takes his pills at night before bed. Constant complaints of no energy, already had type 2 diabetes going into this, and doctors removed his gall bladder. I fear they’ve set him up for complete self destruction and it’s painful to think about.

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