I had another topic in mind for tonight’s post, but I would be remiss if I didn’t post a farewell to Dr. Duane Graveline, who I consider a modern medical hero.
I don’t remember exactly how I ended up coming across SpaceDoc.com, a site he created to educate people about the side-effects of statins. I know it was during the research phase for Fat Head. I was pretty well convinced by then that cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, which of course means statins are nearly worthless. It was only after reading articles by Dr. Graveline that I began to see that statins are worse than worthless. They cause actual damage to millions of unsuspecting people who are merely following doctor’s orders.
For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Graveline was an M.D., a flight surgeon in the Air Force, and a researcher for NASA. In other words, the man knew his medical science. So when he began experiencing strange side-effects after being prescribed Lipitor for his “high” cholesterol, he approached it as science problem. He went on and off Lipitor a few times and tracked his symptoms.
Those symptoms weren’t pretty. On two different occasions, his spent entire days in a state of profound confusion, unable to remember, say, anything since before medical school. Then his memory would return. The condition is known as transient global amnesia, and as Dr. Graveline discovered when he began investigating, it’s hardly an unknown experience among people on statins.
It was while reading those accounts that I had a major head-slapping, if-only-I-had-a-time-machine moment. When my dad was in his late 50s (in other words, around my current age), he had two similar experiences. He became confused and babbled nonsense. He couldn’t remember my sister’s name as she talked to him and tried to figure out what the hell was happening to him. On both occasions he was taken to a hospital … and on both occasions, doctors ran tests and told my mom they couldn’t find anything actually wrong with him. Then the confusion cleared and his memory came back – exactly what Dr. Graveline experienced.
Naturally, it didn’t occur to any of the doctors examining my dad to ask if he was on Lipitor … which he was, and a high dose at that. Although I can’t prove it, I’m convinced the Lipitor either triggered or accelerated my dad’s Alzheimer’s. So instead of spending his well-deserved retirement playing golf, he spent most of it in a home for Alzheimer’s patients.
When my mom was on statins, she experienced nasty muscle and joint pains – which of course her doctor didn’t attribute to the statins. But I did, thanks to the work of people like Dr. Graveline and Dr. Malcolm Kendrick. Dr. Graveline, in fact, ended up with permanently damaged muscles as a parting gift from the makers of Lipitor.
The SpaceDoc site is chock-full of research on statins in particular and heart health in general. I doubt many people in the Fat Head audience need convincing about the dangers of statins, but it’s worth visiting the site anyway just to see how much information Dr. Graveline gathered over the years in his one-man battle to educate an unsuspecting public.
Many of you have emailed or left comments to thank me for sounding the alarm about statins. Don’t thank me. Thank Dr. Graveline, who continued fighting the good fight all the way to age 85. It’s largely because of his fight that some of us respond to “Your cholesterol is high. We should put you on a statin” with “Doctor, I wouldn’t take a statin unless you held a gun to my head and I was convinced you’d pull the trigger.”