I had a couple of interesting items land in my inbox recently. One was an article about an analysis of statin trials. Specifically, the investigators (who reported their findings in the British Medical Journal) looked at the statistics on all-cause mortality.

That, of course, is the figure that matters – or should matter – more than any other. It’s also a figure the makers of statins don’t like to announce. They’d much rather talk about those tiny reductions in heart-attack rates. But if people on statins don’t live any longer on average despite having fewer heart attacks, you ought to be very suspicious. Here’s why:

Suppose I develop a new drug that’s basically rat poison in pill form. Then I conduct a trial in which one group takes the drug and another group takes the placebo. In which group will fewer people die of heart attacks?

The rat-poison group, of course. The poison will kill them before a heart attack can.  But if I want to sell my drug, I’d trumpet the reduction in heart-attack deaths.

Anyway, let’s see what the BMJ analysis says about all-cause mortality in statin trials:

6 studies for primary prevention and 5 for secondary prevention with a follow-up between 2.0 and 6.1 years were identified. Death was postponed between −5 and 19 days in primary prevention trials …

I haven’t taken a math class in quite some time, but I’m pretty sure if death is postponed by -5 days, that means the statin-takers died five days sooner. On a positive note, statin-takers lived an average of 19 days longer in one trial.

Well, the statin enthusiasts like to tell us that while statins may not be all that with a side of fries for primary prevention (that is, preventing a first heart attack), they’re just awesome for preventing a second heart attack. So let’s continue.

… and between −10 and 27 days in secondary prevention trials. The median postponement of death for primary and secondary prevention trials were 3.2 and 4.1 days, respectively.

The statin enthusiasts are clearly correct. The results are better for secondary prevention.  Compared to primary prevention, death was postponed by nine-tenths of an extra day! That certainly justifies taking a powerful prescription drug with a low incidence of side effects, as the statin-makers assure us.

Which brings us to the second item to land in my inbox. The subject line of the email was New Boob Statins Toxic Side Effects.

Holy crap, I thought, you mean statins cause toxic boobs now too?

Turns out I was confused by a typo. The email was from author and science junkie David Evans, letting me know his new book (not boob) Statins Toxic Side Effects is available.

I told him about my confusion in a reply, and he responded with some links to studies showing that statins probably contribute to man-boobs. That might not be a toxic effect, but it’s not a pretty one, either. (Well, I suppose somewhere in the world there’s a female impersonator who looks better with the statin-induced boobs, but you get my point.)

Anyway, on to the book.

The subtitle is Evidence From 500 Scientific Papers. Yes, 500. On the off chance that you have any lingering doubts whether statins produce nasty side-effects, this book will convince you.

The format is the same as in Evans’ other two books, Low Cholesterol Leads To An Early Death and Cholesterol And Saturated Fat Prevent Heart Disease. (He also has an outstanding blog called Healthy Diets And Science, with a gazillion studies organized by topic.)

The studies are organized into chapters with titles such as The common association between statin use and muscle damage and Statins exacerbate asthma and inhibit lung function and exercise. For each of the 500 studies, there’s a consumer-friendly title written by Evans, a citation so you can look up the study yourself, and a summary of the study’s findings, with occasional commentary by Evans.

Thumbing through this thick book and reading some study summaries, I kept shaking my head, thinking of all the people I know who are on statins because the doctor said so.  When my doctor suggested thinking about a statin because of my “elevated” (read: normal) cholesterol, I replied, “I wouldn’t take a statin unless you had a gun to my head and I was convinced you’d pull the trigger.”  He didn’t argue.

Chapter 20 provides citations and summaries of articles written by health professionals who dare to question the statins-for-everyone trend. There are titles (again, the consumer-friendly versions by Evans) like UK doctors virtually compelled to write prescriptions for statins against their better judgment and Doctors’ low awareness of statin side-effects.

Chapter 21 is a bullet-point summary of the negative side-effects attributed to statins in studies. It runs on for two-and-half pages. That should tell you everything you need to know about a drug that by gosh might just extend your life for up to four days.

This isn’t, of course, a book you’ll sit down and read for pleasure while nursing a glass of red wine and a side of bacon. It’s a reference that will save you lord-only-know-how-many hours of research on the internet. I’ll be glad it’s on my bookshelf the next time some statin-pushing doctor sends me an email telling me I’ve just GOT to stop scaring people away from those wunnerful, wunnerful life-saving drugs.

You should be scared.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

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71 Responses to “Book Review: Statins Toxic Side Effects”
  1. William Norman says:

    Rat poison in pill form… My father was taking it before he passed away. It’s called warfarin with the brand name Coumadin, and prevents blood coagulation. It is often prescribed to patients who have had bypass surgery or angioplasty, and the side effects are quite nasty. I know this isn’t the point of this BLOG, but it is an example of poison as “medicine”.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yeah, someone mentioned that before. I think I’d rather take the rat poison than the statin.

      • Scooze says:

        Coumadin is a blood thinner, not a statin.

        • William Norman says:

          Yes, coumadin is a blood thinner, and it is used as rat poison. Basically the rat bleeds to death when it is consumed. I realized that commenting on this in an article about statins is slightly off topic, but it was a reply to Tom’s quote, “Suppose I develop a new drug that’s basically rat poison in pill form.”

          • Craig Rich says:

            Everyone should be aware and informed about meds, and I won’t argue about statins. However, coumadin and other blood thinners are all about dosage. As in, toxicity is determined by dosage. You can poison yourself with vitamins A, D, E, or K. You can poison yourself with salt or water. It’s all about the dosage. Same thing with coumadin. Just because it’s a perfectly good rat poison does not mean it’s poison, just as salt and water can be toxic if the dosage isn’t controlled.

            Some people literally need blood thinners for a time. I’m not a fan of the idea of people taking them for a really long time, but to say they are automatically poison is taking it too far. It’s a medicine that has a use that can be abused or hurtful if not controlled. Statins provide no benefit that I know of.

            • Robert Barrett says:

              Your exactly right on the dosage. I take Coumadin, rat poison, but at low doses to prevent me from getting another blood clot, which can kill me. I had a hernia surgery that damage a large femoral vein in my groin area. I have been taking it for over 20 years with no side effects at all. If you gave rats the same percentage that people take it wouldn’t kill them. It’s only used because it’s very cheap. Too much of any vitamin like you said would kill rats too but cost too much. For me I thank God for rat poison.

    • Brad says:

      I’ve been taking that junk since I was 28 (36 now). I had to get a mechanical aortic valve at 28 because I was born with several heart defects and it finally got to a point where I almost couldn’t function during the day because I was so tired, then I’d get home from work and crash on the couch. Turns out instead of a tricuspid valve…or even a bicuspid, I had a monocuspid the diameter of a pencil eraser. Anyway, I’ve researched natural alternatives which can be achieved with a mixture of spices/herbs, but it would vary in effectiveness from one dose to the next because the chemicals/nutrients that cause the anti-coagulation aren’t necessarily the same for two separate doses. I’d love to stop the pills, but that would risk clot formation on the valve so I take it because I must…for now anyway. I also, apparently, have “high” cholesterol so my cardiologist has pushed statins on me more than once and I just say I’m not interested. His argument is that I’ve already got multiple heart problems and that I don’t want to add any more to the list…never mind my HDL is over 50 now (up from 30 or less).

      If I do have a heart attach it’ll probably be from damage done from eating so much junk the first 30 years of my life until I switched to LC after watching Fat Head (Thanks Tom) and now Paleo/Primal. But I must have been healthy before because I was skinny even though I’d drink several soft drinks per day and eat quantities of fast food that would put Supersize Me to shame. It’s not so much I thought that way of eating was healthy in the first place, just didn’t really cross my mind since I wasn’t overweight and my total cholesterol wasn’t high.

    • Gwen says:

      The coumarin in Warfarin is also found in fairly high amounts in the cassia cinnamon typically found in supermarkets. Real cinnamon, as found in Sri Lanka, doesn’t contain such a high level of coumarin…it’s only the cheap cinnamon from Vietnam and China that have high doses, sometimes as high as 5%.

      That worries me when someone tries to sell cinnamon as a “diabetes cure”. REAL Sri Lanka cinnamon does supposedly have some lowering effect on blood sugar, but the fake cinnamon doesn’t — and in the large doses they foist on you to help with blood sugar, the fake cinnamon stands a good chance of causing you problems from the coumarin compounds. So you take it to lower your blood sugar, and wind up causing heart problems from the dangerously thinned blood, because the difference between Chinese cinnamon and Sri Lankan cinnamon aren’t widely known.

      I have a jar of Sri Lanka cinnamon in my kitchen. I think I still have some of the cheap stuff in the spice cabinet, but I never use it.

  2. Kurt Lass says:

    Thanks for the review!

    You might be interested in the following article: “Crippled by statins: Cholesterol-busters left David in a wheelchair” https://t.co/ZbUJYjKWyq

    The GP was so brainwashed by the statin dogma/propaganda that he ignored the adverse effects of TWO statins and instead prescribed pain killers, acupuncture and physio to deal with them.

    Because chronic pain in a wheelchair is of course far better than risking death a few days earlier from a heart attack…

    • Tom Naughton says:

      David was lucky. Lots of people end up with permanent damage.

    • Deb says:

      That was the same with my mother, they were even looking at “stripping” her leg veins to alleviate the crippling pain she had. In the end she developed a degenerative brain condition called primary progressive aphasia that i think was directly caused by long term use of a high dose of lipitor that was totally uneccessary (her cholesterol was low), she now in a nursing home unable to speak with advanced dementia

    • DebbieC. says:

      I feel bad for the woman mentioned in the article whose doctor insisted she had to be on statins because she is a diabetic:
      *** The statin made her feel tired and weak, but at first she attributed this to depression.

      ‘I decided to take myself off it without telling the doctor and, for the next ten months, I felt better than I had in years,’ says Ellie.

      ‘Then my GP found out and said I must go back on them. Within a week I started to feel muscle weakness. But the doctors think it’s reducing my risk of death and I daren’t go against them.’***

      Then late it says you should *never* go off statins unless okayed by the doctor and under a doctor’s supervision. And of course the doctor is probably going to say “no”, and like Ellie probably most folks feel they “daren’t go against them”. 🙁

      • Tom Naughton says:

        If you can’t go off them until a doctors says it’s okay, I say keep switching doctors until one says it’s okay.

        This is one of the many reasons I’m glad I have an anti-authority streak. “Because [insert authority] says so” doesn’t work on me.

        • JillOz says:

          Doctors are not authorities, they are presumed to know about medicine and presumed to take the Hippocratic oath seriously. Many do, many do NOT.

          They are in business and should be treated that way.

          But it’s hard when you rely on them to know what they’re doing and to treat you properly.

          • MariaC says:

            And mine thinks she practices Functional Medicine. I know more than she does, however, she knows more than any other in my area.

  3. Richard says:

    It reminds me of Denise Mingers bashing of Cambells China study (Fork over knives article).
    Whats the fun in being healthy and dead?

    “Don’t get distracted by those red letters! What we’re interested in is the sentence near the bottom, which the film’s producers apparently didn’t notice: “In all, 30 rats on the high-protein diet and 12 on the low-protein diet survived for more than a year.”

    Let that sink in for a moment. Maybe it’ll hit a little harder if I told you that in the “high protein vs. low protein” experiments discussed in this paper, 10 low-protein rats died prematurely while all the high-protein rats stayed alive. In other words, the overall survival rate for the 20% casein group was much better than for the 5% casein group, despite the fact they had liver tumors. The low-protein rats were dying rapidly—just not from liver cancer. And as we’ll see later, the reason the non-dead, low-protein rats didn’t get tumors was partly because their liver cells were committing mass suicide. ”

    /Richard

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Well, that’s the rat version of a little trick Campbell and his fellow wackos pull in their presentations. They show that in countries with high meat consumption, more people die of cancer. They don’t tell you that people in those same countries live much longer — long enough to die of cancer.

  4. Scott Morgan says:

    Anyone interested in learning how toxic and ineffective drugs make it into the marketplace ought to read:
    Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime by Peter Gotzsche: http://amzn.to/Nnv1fI

  5. Linda says:

    Tom, I can’t thank you enough for what you do! And especially this post! It comes at a time when my cousin in the UK with this “horrible” Total Cholesterol number of 6.3 (that’s 244 in the US) is being besieged by yet another doctor to take statins, because of a family history of heart disease. Never mind his other numbers and markers! He has no sign of heart disease, is healthy, blood pressure perfect, eats a low carb, high fat diet, exercises, etc. Yet, these docs he keeps running across want to ruin his life by putting him on statins! Once again, they have struck a chord of fear in him! I do think UK doctors even push statins more than in the US. He is thinking about getting a second opinion! I don’t know where, because soo far, he hasn’t run across one doctor in the UK who doesn’t recommend statins! And their dietary advice is to a man/woman totally dead wrong!!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Perhaps you can send him a copy of the book, along with Kendrick’s “The Great Cholesterol Con.”

    • Jeffrey Wood says:

      Dear Mr. Naughton,
      I am the cousin Linda spoke of that wrote you this. I am very stressed by it all, doctors and their advice for taking statins. If I may I would like to ask if I choose to stop the bombardment of statins for me, by my doctors, I need to find out what effect is it in my body with having HIV? It is a known fact that HV drugs help raise the cholesterol level. If I were taking statins and then stopped, would I have to worry about my blood levels at all? Thank you kindly for any advice you can give. I’ve given up taking articles to my docs as they just turn and look the other way. No one seems to care about the damage of statins.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        I’m not qualified to answer that one, sorry. If you stop the statin, I’d suggest checking your triglycerides and HDL. That ratio (trig/HDL) is far more useful than total cholesterol. You’d like that ratio below 2.0 and preferably near 1.0.

        If you’re worried about heart disease, I’d also suggest an NMR Lipoprofile (a full look at your cholesterol, including particle size) and perhaps a calcium test. Too many docs treat a number. That’s not the same as treating heart disease.

    • Stephen T. says:

      Linda, the leading advocate of statins in the UK is Sir Rory Collins and he recently complained in The Times that too many doctors were highlighting the side effects of statins and minimising the benefits. It’s clear that a lot of UK doctors are increasingly lukewarm about statins.

      Dr Mark Porter is an example you might like to point out to your cousin. He’s a GP with a high media profile and a column in The Times. In his last column he said that qualifies for statins but doesn’t take them. He did use them for a while but suffered memory lapses, which disappeared when he stopped taking them. He also said that he found it difficult to recommend statins to patients because whilst 1 in 100 might benefit, he had no way of knowing who that might be and at least 10% would suffer side effects.

      As Tom says, Dr Kendrick’s website has numerous items on statins with lots of patient feedback. There’s plenty of information available to your cousin, if he wants it.

      • Galina L. says:

        I commented several times about how my periodontist had to retire in his 50-s due to a permanent muscle damage he suffered from statins he took for less than a year. It is important to remember that people can have an irreversible damage from such drags without having any health benefits.

  6. Bob Niland says:

    Or as I recently remarked on Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s blog – you live only 3 days longer, but it feels like 30 years.

    A further problem with the system that supports foisting these toxins on naive patients is significant under-reporting of side effects. Dogmatic statin-pushing doctors routinely fail to report side effects. They are often quite dismissive of patient reports, particularly for side effects not listed in the Drug Facts foldout.

    Who thinks this all-too-typical outcome will get reported:
    http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2015/10/27/how-much-longer-will-you-live-if-you-take-a-statin/#comment-46580

    Meanwhile, there’s a small chance that these potions actually have net benefit for narrow cases. If anyone reading this chooses to be on a statin, be sure to supplement CoQ10 and vitamin K to counter such side effects as you can.

  7. Tim says:

    Thanks for all your information. I too would rather not follow the Lemmings and take a dangerous drug. Statins the trillion dollar death penalty.

  8. Dr Jay Wortman says:

    Good post, Tom. Timely, as I attended a nice pharma dinner at a posh restaurant last night where the speaker presented lovely charts and graphs showing all the cardiovascular benefits of taking statins while omitting to present the all-cause mortality data. When I asked about that he squirmed a bit. I also noted that he had about 4″ to lose around the middle. I know we aren’t supposed to comment on body habitus but if those who are supposed to lead us to better health outcomes can’t make it work for themselves, WTF?

  9. Paul B. says:

    I’m fortunate. In the past month I had blood taken (as required by my employer), and while I don’t know all the results (I didn’t care to ask because I just don’t care), my total cholesterol was 239. The conversation went something like this:
    Med Professional: “Your total cholesterol is high at 239, but…”
    Insert long pause
    Me: “Let me guess – my HDL is really high and my triglycerides are really low.”
    Med Professional: “Yes. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”
    Me: “That’s good to hear. I came here figuring I’d have to get in an argument with you about why I’m not taking statins.”

    I then told him that I eat a high fat, low carb diet. No reaction, positive or negative, from the guy.

    I wouldn’t have taken them no matter what, but since I work for the US government, I don’t have all of the freedoms normal citizens have. Life could have been made tough for me if that guy wanted to make a deal about it.

  10. Deb says:

    Thank you for this! More and more, I am made acutely aware that “mainstream” thinking (as opposed to your “wisdom of the crowd” thinking) poses a very real danger to my medical, financial, psychological, political, and spiritual health. The brave, brave people who call out that the Emperor has no clothes are brushed aside with venom or snark. (Like that former vegan author who got death threats when she ‘fessed up that her vegan diet was killing her.) Those with an agenda will attempt to force their rules on the rest of us, and it is my duty to myself to not let them get away with it. Keep on keeping us informed; you are providing a crucial service for us! Many thanks!

    (PS. If you want another look at the ugly side of pseudo-science being used to promote an agenda, you should read “A Disgrace to the Profession” by Mark Steyn. Excellent take-down of the self-anointed climate-change gurus.)

    • Tom Naughton says:

      It’s on my to-read list.

    • Just finished Steyn’s book. Great read, but a bit redundant. Focuses primarily on Michael Mann — the fabricator of Al Gore’s “hockey stick” — and his sycophants. Interesting how many in the climate field truly loath him. It was only a couple of evenings’ worth of reading.

      Cheers

    • Elenor says:

      I’m enjoying the hell out of Steyn’s book! Steyn is a card! And to see ALLLLLL these scientists with awards and degrees and amazing positions at big universities, and all of them saying: this hockey-stick thing is b.s. (And did anyone realize that Michael Mann (author/designer/artist-creator of the hockey stick!) only just got his doctorate a bare few years before he made up his data!? I had no idea!)

      I can’t imagine why Mann is still suing Steyn for libel (in Wash. D.C.) — because this book (called “Volume 1” — because apparently there are a boatload MORE serious scientists who disagree with Mann! The court should laugh him right out the door!

      Tom, let me recommend you push this book up on your list — it’s all little 1-2 page quotations (with a list of the speaker/writer’s quals, and usually a brief bit of intro). It makes great bathroom reading, although I always end up carrying it out with me to keep reading, cause I’m enjoying it so much!

  11. samc says:

    You realize of course that the drug industry employees thousands and thousands of people, most of whom benefit from the sale of Statins. In this select group, they probably live longer because of the quality of their lifestyle. The rest of us, not so much.

    Sad to say that most of what is sold as “medicine” is probably just as bad for your long term survival.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Some drugs are true life-savers and I’m grateful they exist. But statins — the best-selling drugs in the world — will be (as The Older Brother put it) our generation’s thalidomide.

  12. Walter Bushell says:

    Yes, statins can cause toxic boobs, remember a lot of docs prescribing satins are on satins themselves thus perpetuating the problem.

  13. Nick S says:

    I’m an engineer, not a doctor, but it seems very likely that the real benefit of statins is in their anti-inflammatory properties rather than their cholesterol-reducing properties… Given the success of simple anti-inflammatory treatment in preventing heart attacks, that conclusion isn’t even much of a stretch.

    I wish I could ask a drug researcher why this seemingly obvious bit of info hasn’t been explored in a cholesterol/inflammation clinical split.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      That would seem to be the source of the small benefit. There of course much better and less toxic ways to lower inflammation.

    • Elenor says:

      As I understand (I read somewhere long ago) the first “statin” was called Nystatin, because it was developed in NY State (!) AND it was developed AS a ant-fungal!

  14. June says:

    What do you think of red yeast rice and Co q10?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      CoQ10 is beneficial for mitochondria. Good stuff, if you’re on a statin, you should absolutely take CoQ10 because statins deplete it.

      Red yeast rice is pointless. Like a statin, it beats down cholesterol. We don’t need our cholesterol beaten down.

      • gallier2 says:

        In fact, the poison statin is, was discovered from red yeast rice. Red yeast rice is a statin, with the additional problem of uncertain dosage and bio-activity.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Yup. If you wouldn’t take a statin, don’t take the red yeast rice.

          • susan says:

            I took red yeast rice for months after I could not tolerate Lipitor. I just bought it off the shelf, with no regard for dosage (dumb, I know). I had read, years ago in a Mother Earth magazine, that it had no side effects. It effected me worse than the Lipitor. I was losing the use of my hands and arms, and as I was a data-entry operator at that time, this slowly became a big problem. Months after beginning the RYR I fortunately ran out and neglected to resupply. Within two weeks my symptoms began to abate. I had the internet by that time and began in research red yeast rice, and promptly decided never to take it again. Along with the muscle challenges, it also affected my ability to stay focused on tasks like driving without having my focus wander. I still have problems ten years after stopping that supplement. I hate to think where I would be had I continued taking it. Most likely six feet under.

            • Tom Naughton says:

              Sorry to hear some of the effects are permanent. That’s why I keep beating the drum about statins. People take these damned poisons and end up not just with pain, but with permanent loss of function.

        • Bob Niland says:

          re: Red yeast rice is a statin…

          Rice in general is also high glycemic (at typical meal portion sizes), contains wheat germ agglutinin (an adverse lectin, at any dose), and all too often contains inorganic arsenic (rice is really good at pulling As out of the soil, even on organic farms).

          When people say goodbye to grains, rice is usually the 4th to go, behind wheat, rye and barley. Consumer Reports has cautioned parents about feeding rice to kids. The FDA is mulling over the As problem, and may be expected to close the barn door after the horse is long gone, and found hooves-up in the rice paddy.

          • Dianne says:

            Sighhhhhhhhhhhh — another happy illusion shattered. I had to give up the other grains, but thought the occasional serving of rice, or rice cake, was safe.

  15. Linda says:

    Thanks Stephen T! I’ll make sure my cousin reads your comment. I have already given him Dr. Kendrick’s “The Great Cholesterol Con” and a link to his blog. Hopefully, he’ll now do his homework. As you say, the information’s out there if you want it!

    I’ll definitely look up Dr. Mark Porter and pass what I find “across the pond” to the UK and my cousin.

  16. Dianne says:

    Thank you for this very timely post. My sister and I recently spent an evening with some friends, one of whom was bewailing the fact that she’d just gotten her annual blood work done and her cholesterol was way up despite the fact that she’d eaten meat only five times during the past year. Sister and I tried to explain that total cholesterol is a non-issue, and that it isn’t affected by dietary cholesterol. Our very distressed friend wasn’t having any — all she could do was to keep repeating that her cholesterol was way up and she hadn’t been eating red meat. However, when we added that statins are evil drugs that have never been shown to help women at all, our hostess’s ears perked up. She said she’d never had muscle pains before she started taking statins years ago, but she has had them ever since. I’m going to send her a link to this post and to your “Science for Smart People” video. Judging by her interest, there may be real hope for her.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I’d encourage her to read Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s book “The Great Cholesterol Con” as well. Some people need to hear this stuff from an MD.

  17. Dianne says:

    Correction: it was joint pains our hostess mentioned, not muscle pains.

  18. WereBear says:

    One problem with so many popularly prescribed drugs is that they are given to middle-aged people and their complaints dismissed as “you are just getting older.”

    • Dianne says:

      Funny how many people start feeling their age right after they start taking statins, isn’t it?

    • Gilana says:

      This is an excellent comment, the gist of which I’ve seen in action, and it’s positively heartbreaking. I think the “what ifs”, after the fact, are worst of all.

    • Walter Bushell says:

      I’ve commented in that vein several times in this blog about statins in particular. But it certainly bears repeating.

      You cripple a major metabolic pathway and you have to expect to pay
      for it.

      Or as Barry Groves[1] might have said, “Your money and your life.”

      [1] See his _Trick and Treat_.

      I got my used copy for one cent plus shipping from Amazon. However the
      price has gone up. I suppose this is good news; the book deserves reading.

  19. Nick S says:

    I visited the doctor on Friday, an older guy I’ve never seen before who’s filling in since my usual doc quit. The doc I had before was savvy, knew recent research… The new guy, not so much.

    He suggested a drug which is no longer considered a first-line choice for one of my conditions, since it has serious recently-discovered complications (I asked if he knew this, and he blew it off as though it didn’t matter) and then when I mentioned that I expected my cholesterol to be high, said maybe it’d be worth looking into a statin.

    I told him I wouldn’t want to go on a statin because the small risk reduction wouldn’t be worth the side effects, and he acted like I’d kicked his dog. He went on a tirade about how statins are one of the biggest life-savers in modern medicine, the side effects were overblown, etc. I asked him if he’d looked into the most up-to-date research on how statins impact all-cause mortality, and that triggered a very insulting tirade about people looking up stuff on the internet and thinking they’re doctors. I got a bit cross with him and asked why the doctor doesn’t know the statistics on the drugs he’s prescribing, but the patient does.

    Sigh.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Unfortunately, that’s probably the typical response to a patient who actually does a bit of research instead of taking the doctor’s word as the word of God.

  20. Linda says:

    Amen “Brother Naughton!!” My cousin went to see his lipid doctor in the UK today, and it was pitiful! You have remarked on occasion that the average IQ of a room went up by several points when a dietitian left the room, or something to that effect. I’m about convinced that the same is true about a doctor leaving a crowded room. This woman couldn’t even answer all my cousin’s questions about cholesterol and statins, and kept spouting the same old garbage. My cousin had taken all sorts of articles from Dr. Kendrick, Dr. Duane Graveline and you, and the woman basically blew them off! She took them, saying that even if they were cardiologists or experts in another field, it didn’t mean they knew what they were talking about with statins! Her dietary advice displayed her head had been in the sand for the past fifty years or so!

    I guess the good thing is that my cousin was so unimpressed by this so-called doctor’s knowledge that he has stopped statins. Of course the doc just blew off the fact that he has begun to develop aching muscles and cramping in his legs! He is getting older, you know….

    The sheer ignorance is so depressing at times!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      It can be depressing, sure, but that’s why I’m glad we live in an age where the Wisdom of Crowds effect can kick in. Back in the day, most of us would have taken the doctor’s word as gospel.

  21. labrat says:

    Went to a doctor for the first time in over ten years. Unfortunately, my blood pressure refused to cooperate with my self treatments and it was time to bite the bullet and consider meds for it. The first doc I saw was cool. She didn’t give me a hard time about not wanting the typical screenings or prevention crap. Had to go back for a post med check on her day off and saw her associate. I could tell he was not too keen on my challenging some of the stuff he was saying. He went out of the room to check my labs. Came back and told me I had the highest HDL he ever saw, 102. I said I’m not surprised, I eat a high fat diet. He quickly turned defensive and changed the subject. I could tell he didn’t want to hear what I had to say about that…..:P

  22. Michael Steadman says:

    Now I know the world is on its rear end–just saw tonight on a local Chicago newscast that the NIH is working with a company to produce a cholesterol-lowering vaccine so as to eliminate the “side effects” of the statin pill. You should have heard the cock-sure health reporter reading the story who acted like this was some big breakthrough in health care.

  23. JillOz says:

    Hello Tom, regarding the latest piece about vegetable oils being terrible for people -finally!, an article here might rouse your interest: https://theconversation.com/cooking-the-books-when-that-sensational-new-research-finding-isnt-all-it-seems-50386

  24. HB Desiato says:

    Other kinds of side effects.

    Having too much small dense LDL in your blood can cause atheroscerlosis and death.
    True, a low carb diet can help reduce the small dense LDL but not in everyone and maybe not sufficiently.

    Statins can help in cases like that. The “no one should be on statins” crowd are using population statistics to back them up. It’s like saying BMI is a wonderful metric while standing next to an olympic cyclist… Yeah maybe it is – IF YOU ARE TYPICAL. Your cyclist will have a BMI indicating obesity, yet it’s all muscle.
    Same kind of analysis going on with statins.

    Unfortunately, the pharma companies went for profit instead of health and want to prescribe them for everyone. The (valid) side effects backlash may cause the group originally intended for statins (including the 1 in 500 with FH) to reject statins and end up suffering the side effects of small dense LDL.

    I looked through the table of contents of David Evan’s book but did not see a chapter on how to fix CAD without statins. I’d be nice if those bent on finding fault could have some solutions. Otherwise, it’s just complaints without help or helpful suggestions.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      It comes down to simple math for me. The odds of a statin actually saving your life are tiny — in the most positive trials, perhaps one of a hundred subjects taking the drug avoided a heart attack, but the all-cause mortality figures are either not reported or not positive.

      Meanwhile, the odds of nasty side effects are large. Not worth rolling the dice. So yes, I’m in the “no one should be on statins” crowd.

  25. MariaC says:

    Thanks to Chris Kresser who posted this website on his Facebook page. I scrolled through the second half of the comments because I didn’t want to forget my thought. My husband’s genetic testing results indicate that he is not prone to side effects from statins, which he uses as a defense to keep taking this poison. While reading this great article and the following comments I wonder if the following are indicators that he should not be taking statins: man boobs with some type of nerve pain on one side, that he says moves around (the doctor thinks it residual pain from one of our dogs that hooked a nail on his nipple), weakened upper body muscles, and asthma.

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