Goodness, this whole gender-bias problem is getting serious. In the Fat Head Report video I posted earlier this week, vegan doctor John McDougall explained that humans developed a reputation for being proficient hunters because of gender bias – the men were the hunters, you see, and were actually lousy at it. But they bragged and lied and bragged and lied about their hunting abilities, over and over, so anthropologists were fooled into thinking humans were great hunters. Apparently this was part of a plan to repress future generations of women living in civilized countries.
Well, okay, perhaps gender bias among hunter-gatherer tribes doesn’t bother you. But what about gender bias in being prescribed life-saving statins? It’s a serious issue, according to a recent article in the U.K. Telegraph:
A worrying gender divide in the prescribing of life-saving statins to women with Type 2 diabetes has been uncovered by researchers.
An analysis of prescriptions shows that although women are more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol than men – putting them at greater risk of heart problems – they were less likely to receive protective medication.
I see. Women are more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol than men – putting them at greater risk of heart problems. So obviously women have more heart attacks than men.
A study of 80,000 people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in England between 2006 and 2013 found that 11.6 per cent of women and 12.8 per cent of men went on to develop cardiovascular disease.
Uh … wait a minute. Something doesn’t make sense here. Let’s look at those two quotes again …
Women are more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol than men – putting them at greater risk of heart problems.
11.6 per cent of women and 12.8 per cent of men went on to develop cardiovascular disease.
So the women are at greater risk despite a lower actual rate of cardiovascular disease. Got it. The average age for having a first heart attack among men is 65, by the way. For women, it’s 72. The higher blood pressure and cholesterol is clearly doing a number on women. But back to the gender-bias problem:
Yet women were 16 per cent less likely to receive cholesterol-lowering statins than men, and 26 per cent less likely to be prescribed ACE inhibitors, which helps relax blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
Tsk-tsk! What the heck is wrong with those doctors, prescribing life-saving statins to a smaller percentage of women than men? Those gender-biased MDs must not care if women die from heart disease. Maybe they’re afraid the women will eventually reveal that whole men are actually lousy hunters story. That has to be it. What other reason could there be for not prescribing life-saving statins?
I can think of one. Howzabout we take a peek at data from The NNT, a site maintained by doctors for doctors. Here’s a description of what they do from the home page:
We are a group of physicians that have developed a framework and rating system to evaluate therapies based on their patient-important benefits and harms as well as a system to evaluate diagnostics by patient sign, symptom, lab test or study.
We only use the highest quality, evidence-based studies (frequently, but not always Cochrane Reviews), and we accept no outside funding or advertisements.
And using the highest-quality, evidence-based studies, here’s what they concluded about giving statins to people who don’t already have heart disease:
Benefits in NNT
None were helped (life saved)
1 in 104 were helped (preventing heart attack)
1 in 154 were helped (preventing stroke)
No lives saved. Just one non-fatal heart attack prevented for every 104 people treated with statins. So much for those life-saving statins.
Here’s what the NNT doctors found for harms from statins:
1 in 50 were harmed (develop diabetes*)
1 in 10 were harmed (muscle damage)
If gender bias prevents doctors from doling out as many statins to women, perhaps more men should identify as women, never mind the expanded restroom privileges.
Call it lucky timing or whatever, but just a week before the Telegraph article appeared, a new study on statin side effects was released. Keep in mind, according to the studies conducted by statin-makers, the incidence of adverse drug reactions is very low. Really, really low. Heck-nothing-to-worry-about low. Now check out these figures:
Among 556 patients (418 men; 138 women) taking statins, 237 ADRs were reported (186 men; 51 women). The incidence of ADRs was 40.7%, and more frequent among patients at “high CV disease (CVD) risk” and “moderate CVD risk” than other risk categories.
The incidence of ADRs among statin users was 42.6%, and frequent ADRs (49%) were noted in patients with high CVD risk.
Adverse drug reactions in more than 40% of the population studied, climbing to nearly 50% in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
So of course, the authors wrote this as the final sentence in the abstract:
Early identification of these ADRs should improve patient adherence to life-saving statin treatment.
Head. Bang. On. Desk.
How exactly does early identification of side effects improve patient adherence?
Well, Mr. Patient, we’ve detected that the statin you’re taking is inducing diabetes, damaging your liver, screwing up your muscles and causing your cognitive abilities to decline. Good thing we caught it early. Now keep taking your statin.
I have my own bias. I’m biased against stupidity and bad logic. It takes a fair bit of both to think not enough women are taking statins.