More Cholesterol Follies

      182 Comments on More Cholesterol Follies

“It’s no accident that we’re drug oriented, really. The drug companies got us that way and they’d like to keep us that way.  It’s a simple thing. They start you early with the oral habit. Little orange flavored aspirin for children. (pop, pop) Two in the mouth, son. Something wrong with your head? (pop, pop) Two in the mouth. Remember that:  head, mouth. (pop, pop) These are orange; there’ll be other colors later on.”
– George Carlin

I’m wondering what color the drug companies will choose for children’s statins.  Maybe they’ll produce cherry-flavored pills shaped like the American Heart Association’s logo.  Two in the mouth, son.

I was hoping against hope the anti-cholesterol hysterics would never be foolish enough prescribe statins for kids, but a recent news article suggests that’s where we’re headed:

More children should be screened for high cholesterol before puberty, beyond those with a family history of problems, according to wide-ranging new guidelines expected from government-appointed experts who are trying to prevent heart disease later in life.

Any call for wider screening is likely to raise concern about overdiagnosing a condition that may not cause problems for decades, if ever. Yet studies suggest that half of children with high cholesterol will also have it as adults, and it’s one of the best-known causes of clogged arteries that can lead to heart attacks.

High cholesterol is one of the best-known causes of clogged arteries?  Well, in that case, obviously most people who suffer heart attacks must have high cholesterol.  We’ll come back to that.

About a third of U.S. children and teens are obese or overweight. And government studies estimate that about 10 to 13 percent of children and teens have high cholesterol — defined as a score above 200.

Yup, that’s how high cholesterol is defined, all right.  It was defined that way for an important scientific reason:   the average cholesterol level among (non-statinated) adults is around 220.  By defining a normal cholesterol level as high, the National Cholesterol Education Program (whose members nearly all had consulting contracts with statin-makers) turned millions of adults into instant patients.  Now the statin-makers want to tap the kiddie market too.

A key change will be more aggressive recommendations for cholesterol screening and treatment in children, including a change in “the age at which we feel we can safely use statins,” said Dr. Reginald Washington, a pediatric heart specialist in Denver and member of the panel.

I wasn’t aware that the safety of statins for children was based on feelings.  I was thinking perhaps there should be some hard evidence involved.

The pediatrics academy already advises that some children as young as 8 can safely use these cholesterol-lowering medicines, sold as Lipitor, Zocor and in generic form. They are known to prevent heart disease and deaths in adults and are approved for use in children.

Statins are known to prevent heart disease and deaths in adults?  Let’s see what the science has to say on that.  Here’s the conclusion of a meta-analysis on the usefulness of statins for primary prevention – that is, preventing heart attacks in people who don’t already have heart disease:

A new meta-analysis of statins in the primary prevention of heart disease has not shown a significant reduction in all-cause mortality.

Here’s the conclusion of a similar study:

In patients without CV disease, statin therapy decreases the incidence of major coronary and cerebrovascular events and revascularizations, but not coronary heart disease or overall mortality.

Statins may slightly reduce your chances of having a heart attack (if you already have several known risk factors), but they don’t reduce heart disease or overall mortality.  So when a journalist tells you statins are known to prevent heart disease and deaths in adults, the journalist is making a statement that simply isn’t true.

Statins are worthless for primary prevention.  So at best, the kids would be taking a powerful drug they don’t need.  At worst (and I expect the worst), the statins would starve their brains of cholesterol and destroy the mitochondria in their muscles – at exactly the time when their brains and muscles are developing rapidly.  This is a disaster waiting to happen.  With their brain development stunted at an early age, the only career paths open to these kids will be running for Congress or working for the FDA.

But there aren’t big studies showing that using them in children will prevent heart attacks years or decades later.

Well then, by all means, let’s start giving statins to kids based on nothing more than anti-cholesterol hysteria  — and our feelings.  We needn’t bother waiting for those big studies.  To paraphrase George McGovern, we don’t have time to wait for every last shred of evidence to come in.

I said earlier that we’d come back to the statement that high cholesterol being one of the best-known causes of clogged arteries.  If that’s true, then we’d expect most heart-attack victims to have high cholesterol.  But that simply isn’t the case.  Several months ago, I posted about a study showing that nearly three-quarters of heart-attack victims have normal or even low LDL levels – and course, it’s LDL that statins beat into submission.

If you look at heart disease rates and cholesterol levels around the world, you won’t find any correlation whatsoever.  The French and the Swiss both have average cholesterol levels over 230.  They also have the first and second lowest rates of heart disease among industrialized nations.  Russians have an average cholesterol level of 190 – below that magic number of 200.  Russians also have the highest rate of heart disease in Europe.

In another recent news story warning that (eek!) up to one-fifth of people with heart disease aren’t being good little patients and taking their statins, the truth about cholesterol and heart disease slips out again  — although that wasn’t the intention of the article:

More than one in five people with heart disease aren’t getting life-saving statin drugs despite guidelines saying they should, a new study shows.  Researchers looked at nearly 39,000 people who had experienced a heart attack or undergone heart surgery, and found about 8,600 people weren’t prescribed the cholesterol-lowering medications.

Notice the reporter couldn’t resist referring to statins as “life-saving.”  Bias?  What bias?  We don’t see any bias.

Now for the paragraph where the truth slips out:

“Our study shows that half of untreated patients had low LDL levels,” said Dr. Suzanne Arnold of Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, who worked on the new findings. “This supports the assumption that some doctors may not think patients with low LDL levels need lipid-lowering medication,” she told Reuters Health.

The patients in this study were people who already had a heart attack – and half of them had low LDL levels.  If high cholesterol is one of the best-known causes of clogged arteries, then how the @#$% do we explain away the fact that at least half of the people who suffer heart attacks don’t have high cholesterol?  And how on earth do we justify giving statins to kids just because they have “high” cholesterol?

But even in people with low LDL cholesterol, statins can provide a benefit, according to Arnold. “Statins do more than just lower cholesterol,” she said. “They also play a role in reducing plaque and inflammation in arteries. That benefits people regardless of their cholesterol levels.”

Here’s a crazy idea, Dr. Arnold:  Given what you just said, perhaps high cholesterol isn’t the problem.   Perhaps inflammation is the problem, and the only reason statins provide any benefit at all is that they lower inflammation.    We don’t need drugs to reduce inflammation.  We can do that with a proper diet.  Beating down our cholesterol levels isn’t a benefit of statins; it’s a nasty side-effect.

In some people, statins can cause muscle pain and stomach problems such as nausea, gas, diarrhea or constipation. And their long-term effect on muscle tissue is unknown.

Yes, determining the long-term effect of statins on muscle tissue is tricky, especially since so many older people take statins.  As my mom discovered, if you’re a senior citizen who takes statins and you complain to your doctor about muscle pain, your doctor will probably attribute the pain to old age.

So here’s what we need to do:  Let’s prescribe statins to a whole generation of kids.  In just 20 years or so, we’ll finally know the long-term effects of statins on muscle tissue.  I’m sure all those 30-year-olds in wheelchairs will be glad to know they contributed to medical science.


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182 thoughts on “More Cholesterol Follies

  1. Gerard ONeil

    Hi Tom, just got my cholesterol numbers back.
    chol: 266
    trig.: 46
    ldl : 102
    hdl: 155

    That hdl is a personal best. I have been seriously lowcarbing for going on 15 years
    and this is the reward.

    Wow, that’s got to be some kind of record for HDL.

  2. Gerard ONeil

    Hi Tom, just got my cholesterol numbers back.
    chol: 266
    trig.: 46
    ldl : 102
    hdl: 155

    That hdl is a personal best. I have been seriously lowcarbing for going on 15 years
    and this is the reward.

    Wow, that’s got to be some kind of record for HDL.

  3. Mirva

    Here in Finland, there was a discussion about adding statins into milk like vitamin D. I just hope it wasn’t anything else than an idea.

    I’d stop buying milk for our girls immediately.

  4. cancerclasses

    This one is just too easy to debunk, but I’ll defer to my lipid science professor to explain everything I know about statins & cholesterol: Defective LDL Cholesterol Becomes a “Poison Delivery System”

    “LDL cholesterol is not the “bad guy” that everyone would have you believe; it serves a VERY IMPORTANT ROLE in our natural (healthy) bodily functions.

    …huge numbers of molecules in the omega 6-based cooking oils are already RUINED by commercial food processing. The body then incorporates these adulterated oils INTO the LDL cholesterol. With the consumption and transport of DEFECTIVE cancer-causing processed oils, LDL cholesterol acts like a “poison delivery system” bringing deadly transfats and other ruined oils into the cells. It is primarily the oxidized (adulterated) parent omega 6 that clog the arteries, NOT SATURATED FAT! Renowened interventional cardiologist, Dr. David Sim, makes a great analogy that anyone can understand:

    “It’s like building a wall without having enough bricks. You use another material and ‘fill in the hole’, but it doesn’t work correctly. The same thing happens when cholesterol doesn’t have enough (organic, cold processed) parent omega 6 to incorporate.”

    In nature, with the consumption of organic, unprocessed Essential Fatty Acids rather than adulterated oils and transfats, LDL cholesterol should be made up of significant amounts of properly functioning “parent” omega 6, linoleic acid (LA), and as a result it will NOT BE HARMFUL.

    Furthermore, (properly formed cholesterol) is THE NATURAL TRANSPORTER OF PARENT OMEGA 6 AND PARENT OMEGA 3 INTO THE CELLS. [We NEED cholesterol to transport ESSENTIAL fatty acids into our cells, or we become deficient in these fatty acids, and our body does not function properly.]

    That’s why it’s NOT necessary to lower LDL cholesterol, nor is the absolute LDL numbers as important, when the diet contains sufficient unadulterated EFAs.

    Also note the body has no natural “cholesterol sensor” in the bloodstream. Unlike sodium, calcium, glucose levels, your body does not need to maintain a strict cholesterol level. For example, glucose levels are maintained to an amazingly tight 0.1% (just 1 teaspoon of sugar per every thousand teaspoons of blood) in each of us! Nature implemented biological sensor mechanisms only if required.

    THERE IS NO NEED FOR A CHOLESTEROL SENSOR BECAUSE THE ABSOLUTE NUMBER IS IRRELEVENT.

    This is THE REASON the medical profession has offered us no insight into why our cholesterol numbers keep plummeting, yet heart attacks continue to increase. LDL CHOLESTEROL IS IMPROPERLY BLAMED for a myriad of health problems when the real culprit is defective EFAs. LDL cholesterol has no alternative but to transport these killers throughout our body since we have inadequate amounts of properly functioning LA in our diets. The “experts” never made this critical connection to pinpoint the REAL “problem” with LDL. The cholesterol-lowering drugs simply can’t lower the defective omega 6 enough.” http://goo.gl/KURer

    For more of the real truth about statins read any or all of the articles linked here: http://goo.gl/Vdr8M

    I wish your lipid professor could have a conversation with a few thousand doctors.

  5. Bex

    That article is actually terrifying….not sure how that would pan out here, what with meds being free on the NHS for children but still….

    Funny, I went and asked my doc for a thyroid function test, and he ticked the ‘cholesterol’ box as well…I told him I wasn’t interested in getting it checked but he said we might was well…..for what reason I know not, as I’m a female of childbearing age. Apparently, it was normal, at 4.1……

    Everyone’s stopped questioning me about my diet, they still buy low fat crap though

    My fear would be brainwashed parents buying OTC statins and giving them to kids.

  6. Possum Combes

    Linda – RE “So I have been all over the net during the past few weeks and still can’t seem to get a concise answer to this. What causes inflammation and how to reverse it?
    I’ve been low carbing for over three years, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, but still ended up with blockage in three arteries and am now taking a statin and wearing a stent!” Gotta ask – what Blood Type are you? Did you miss the links to the Blood Type Diet while on the net?
    It can make a huge difference following the right diet for your “type” in our experience…What causes inflammation in our bodies is an individual thing & is particular to blood types…
    By avoiding these things, my husband’s really high chol numbers reduced 3 points in 2 weeks…& the bad & good ones rebalanced at the same time… His Dr was convinced it would not work & advised to go straight on medication, & she & the Nurse apologised to us 2 week later…;-)

  7. Possum Combes

    Linda – RE “So I have been all over the net during the past few weeks and still can’t seem to get a concise answer to this. What causes inflammation and how to reverse it?
    I’ve been low carbing for over three years, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, but still ended up with blockage in three arteries and am now taking a statin and wearing a stent!” Gotta ask – what Blood Type are you? Did you miss the links to the Blood Type Diet while on the net?
    It can make a huge difference following the right diet for your “type” in our experience…What causes inflammation in our bodies is an individual thing & is particular to blood types…
    By avoiding these things, my husband’s really high chol numbers reduced 3 points in 2 weeks…& the bad & good ones rebalanced at the same time… His Dr was convinced it would not work & advised to go straight on medication, & she & the Nurse apologised to us 2 week later…;-)

  8. Josh

    Thought I would share my good news. I am only 36 but I figured I’d get my lipid panel as I’m quite interested how eating right has affected my cholesterol. The report I received today isn’t as detailed as I’ve seen others…not sure if they have additional information they kept from me? Anyway, I’ll find out next week.

    Here are my numbers:

    Total Cholesterol: 189
    Trig: 50
    HDL: 51
    Chol/HDL Ratio: 3.7
    LDL (Direct): 117

    Pretty good radio eh? It does note *Lipid panel (includes aLDL) but it doesn’t inform me as to whether most is type A.

    It also states above the numbers that:

    “Your lipid profile is abnormal. Please continue to work on a low fat diet, exercise and weight management. Please return in 3 months.”

    Do they have cherry-flavored statins?

    Your trig/HDL ratio is 1.0, which is outstanding. Highly unlikely you’re making much if any small, dense LDL. So you are abnormal — you’re far healthier than most people.

  9. Josh

    Thought I would share my good news. I am only 36 but I figured I’d get my lipid panel as I’m quite interested how eating right has affected my cholesterol. The report I received today isn’t as detailed as I’ve seen others…not sure if they have additional information they kept from me? Anyway, I’ll find out next week.

    Here are my numbers:

    Total Cholesterol: 189
    Trig: 50
    HDL: 51
    Chol/HDL Ratio: 3.7
    LDL (Direct): 117

    Pretty good radio eh? It does note *Lipid panel (includes aLDL) but it doesn’t inform me as to whether most is type A.

    It also states above the numbers that:

    “Your lipid profile is abnormal. Please continue to work on a low fat diet, exercise and weight management. Please return in 3 months.”

    Do they have cherry-flavored statins?

    Your trig/HDL ratio is 1.0, which is outstanding. Highly unlikely you’re making much if any small, dense LDL. So you are abnormal — you’re far healthier than most people.

  10. Michele

    How can I find a cardiologist for my husband that will get him off the statins? He had a major heart attack a year ago. I looked at the Living La Vida Low Carb website, but there weren’t any doctors listed in our area.

    That’s a tough one. Not sure how you go about find one.

  11. cancerclasses

    My lipid professor actually does regularly present these facts to thousands of physicians every year around the world, both informally to any interested groups and as a member of A4M, The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, and ISSFAL, International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids, and I don’t know how many other associations & organizations.

    He says that a regular occurrence at his presentations is that when these professional physicians are presented with the well known & long established biochemical & physiological facts which happen to conflict with their belief systems and their clinical practices, many of them get extremely agitated, upset & get up & walk out.

    So yeah, he does talk to many of them, but as the sayings go he can’t make them listen or understand his material for them. http://goo.gl/VixoD

    I guess it’s the phenomenon described in “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me).” The doctors can’t bring themselves to believe they’ve been giving out the wrong advice for all these years.

  12. Janet

    Don’t know where Michele is, but there is a very well known doc in this area who is very against statins. I’m in east TX. If that is an option, I’d be happy to pass on his info.

  13. Peggy Cihocki

    This article and the similar one mentioned by @Beowolf on MSNBC describe a scenario that is just too scary to contemplate, but contemplate it we must. And fight it, we must. Thanks, Tom!

  14. Gerard ONeil

    Hi Tom, just got my cholesterol numbers back.
    chol: 266
    trig.: 46
    ldl : 102
    hdl: 155

    That hdl is a personal best. I have been seriously lowcarbing for going on 15 years
    and this is the reward.

    Wow, that’s got to be some kind of record for HDL.

  15. Possum Combes

    Linda – RE “So I have been all over the net during the past few weeks and still can’t seem to get a concise answer to this. What causes inflammation and how to reverse it?
    I’ve been low carbing for over three years, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, but still ended up with blockage in three arteries and am now taking a statin and wearing a stent!” Gotta ask – what Blood Type are you? Did you miss the links to the Blood Type Diet while on the net?
    It can make a huge difference following the right diet for your “type” in our experience…What causes inflammation in our bodies is an individual thing & is particular to blood types…
    By avoiding these things, my husband’s really high chol numbers reduced 3 points in 2 weeks…& the bad & good ones rebalanced at the same time… His Dr was convinced it would not work & advised to go straight on medication, & she & the Nurse apologised to us 2 week later…;-)

  16. Josh

    Thought I would share my good news. I am only 36 but I figured I’d get my lipid panel as I’m quite interested how eating right has affected my cholesterol. The report I received today isn’t as detailed as I’ve seen others…not sure if they have additional information they kept from me? Anyway, I’ll find out next week.

    Here are my numbers:

    Total Cholesterol: 189
    Trig: 50
    HDL: 51
    Chol/HDL Ratio: 3.7
    LDL (Direct): 117

    Pretty good radio eh? It does note *Lipid panel (includes aLDL) but it doesn’t inform me as to whether most is type A.

    It also states above the numbers that:

    “Your lipid profile is abnormal. Please continue to work on a low fat diet, exercise and weight management. Please return in 3 months.”

    Do they have cherry-flavored statins?

    Your trig/HDL ratio is 1.0, which is outstanding. Highly unlikely you’re making much if any small, dense LDL. So you are abnormal — you’re far healthier than most people.

  17. Christopher

    Wow…just wow. I want to go up and smack some of these doctors that are saying kids should be put on statins. Love the George Carlin quote btw. George was my hero and Role Model. It’s too bad he isn’t alive today. To tell you the truth, the three people I generally seem to agree with most are George, you, and Penn Jillette. Why, you may ask. Because what you say not only makes sense, but can be backed up with both fact and logic. I will always go with what’s logical over what is ‘apparently’ true, according to the so-called experts.

    By the way, here’s something I think you should hear. I work as a busser and dishwasher at a steakhouse. During the summer, I try to walk the three miles there every day I can btw. We make a lot of burgers, and I must say, it warms my heart to see that there are at least a nice-sized portion of people who don’t bother eating the bun of their burger.

    Hope you’re doing well, and hope that if things continue the way they’re going that your desk can take all the head-banging.

    I’m flattered to mentioned in the same sentence with Penn Jillette, who is one of my heroes.

  18. Christopher

    Wow…just wow. I want to go up and smack some of these doctors that are saying kids should be put on statins. Love the George Carlin quote btw. George was my hero and Role Model. It’s too bad he isn’t alive today. To tell you the truth, the three people I generally seem to agree with most are George, you, and Penn Jillette. Why, you may ask. Because what you say not only makes sense, but can be backed up with both fact and logic. I will always go with what’s logical over what is ‘apparently’ true, according to the so-called experts.

    By the way, here’s something I think you should hear. I work as a busser and dishwasher at a steakhouse. During the summer, I try to walk the three miles there every day I can btw. We make a lot of burgers, and I must say, it warms my heart to see that there are at least a nice-sized portion of people who don’t bother eating the bun of their burger.

    Hope you’re doing well, and hope that if things continue the way they’re going that your desk can take all the head-banging.

    I’m flattered to mentioned in the same sentence with Penn Jillette, who is one of my heroes.

  19. Christopher

    Wow…just wow. I want to go up and smack some of these doctors that are saying kids should be put on statins. Love the George Carlin quote btw. George was my hero and Role Model. It’s too bad he isn’t alive today. To tell you the truth, the three people I generally seem to agree with most are George, you, and Penn Jillette. Why, you may ask. Because what you say not only makes sense, but can be backed up with both fact and logic. I will always go with what’s logical over what is ‘apparently’ true, according to the so-called experts.

    By the way, here’s something I think you should hear. I work as a busser and dishwasher at a steakhouse. During the summer, I try to walk the three miles there every day I can btw. We make a lot of burgers, and I must say, it warms my heart to see that there are at least a nice-sized portion of people who don’t bother eating the bun of their burger.

    Hope you’re doing well, and hope that if things continue the way they’re going that your desk can take all the head-banging.

    I’m flattered to mentioned in the same sentence with Penn Jillette, who is one of my heroes.

  20. Gary McRiddle

    My comment is mostly unrelated to the post, but I’ll tie it back up at the end. I’d like to offer some personal experience to LCNana in regards to her question.

    I used to take Effexor and Lamictal, and my wife takes Seroquel for sleep. We used to be a part of the eat-whatever-the-hell-we-want crowd, and we were pretty miserable. I was balanced enough to keep a job, but I would say my moods were more erratic when I was on the medication than they are now. I feel like now my wife only needs her medication to sleep. When I ask her if it actually does anything for her mood, she says it slows her racing thoughts, which I guess is also related to the sleep issue.

    Anyway, I had been experimenting with low carb for a few weeks when one morning I forgot to take my pills, and the most extraordinary thing happened – I felt absolutely elated; I could have danced in the aisles of my office I was in such a fantastic mood. I told her I missed a dose and she brought it to me at lunch. I took it, and wouldn’t you know it, my mood crashed. I wasn’t happy anymore. This shocked the hell out of me since I had never heard of someone experiencing a positive withdrawal with anti-depressant medication. Missed doses are usually associated with the kind of pathological behavior that fortifies a person’s belief that they need the pills to stay sane. But I couldn’t deny how happy I felt.

    So I missed a few more doses here and there. Same thing happened. Always happiness, never any depression. So I eventually made the decision to stop letting the meds drag me down and stopped cold turkey. Now I experience the world as most people do, the way it should be experienced, and it’s pretty remarkable to know just how much those pills dull your emotions, dull your life.

    I actually feel somewhat guilty for not needing medication anymore because my wife still does. She can’t sleep. She has to stay up for almost a full 24 hours, to the point of complete physical exhaustion, to get to sleep without medication. She was diagnosed bipolar a few years back, which is why she’s on Seroquel and not Lunesta, but I feel the diet has reigned in most of our mood issues, so we think of it more as a sleep aid.

    You know, what was most interesting about stopping the medication was discovering an unknown side effect I’d been experiencing for years and been attributing to a deficit in my character: muscle weakness and fatigue. When we had moved in the past, I was absolutely useless. A few boxes up the stairs and I was done. I couldn’t do anymore. I thought I was just a pansy, come to find out it was the medication all along.

    And I’m sure the same thing’s going to happen to all the kids on statins, thinking their physical shortcomings throughout their lives are due to “bad genetics” instead of their “life-saving” medications.

    I’m afraid you’re right. Those kids will end up on medications to offset the effects of the medications. Some people really and truly need drugs for their conditions, but as you discovered, others need a change in diet.

  21. Joe Brown

    A response to Michele: Good luck on the Cardiologist search. Most likely they would take one look at the heart attack and double the dose of the statin out of fear of malpractise charges. One of the greatest services that Tom provides for all of us who read his blog, is information. With my history of heart disease, it was a challange to discountinue statins – discussing it with my doctor did not help. Spending hours on research checking with many of the ligitimate sources that Tom and others furnish, I made the decision on my own realizing that I had to replace the statins ability to fight inflamation if I were to stop them. Therefore, for me, no more than 30 net grams per day carbohydrate, eliminate all sources of wheat and omega 6 oils. Take pure fish oil, vitamin D and eat lots of green vegetables. I also believe that for those of us with heart disease, daily excerise at the highest tolerance level is a must – even though, in my case anyway, it hurts but gets a little better with time. I also beleive that with many of us it is going to take a year or two, perhaps more, for all of these test numbers to change. However, we’ll feel a lot better, a lot sooner than that.

    1. mike sutton

      Exercise will help if it is aerobic… see Dr Phil Maffetone’s works for recommendations on heart rate calculations… get and use a HR monitor.

  22. Joe Brown

    A response to Michele: Good luck on the Cardiologist search. Most likely they would take one look at the heart attack and double the dose of the statin out of fear of malpractise charges. One of the greatest services that Tom provides for all of us who read his blog, is information. With my history of heart disease, it was a challange to discountinue statins – discussing it with my doctor did not help. Spending hours on research checking with many of the ligitimate sources that Tom and others furnish, I made the decision on my own realizing that I had to replace the statins ability to fight inflamation if I were to stop them. Therefore, for me, no more than 30 net grams per day carbohydrate, eliminate all sources of wheat and omega 6 oils. Take pure fish oil, vitamin D and eat lots of green vegetables. I also believe that for those of us with heart disease, daily excerise at the highest tolerance level is a must – even though, in my case anyway, it hurts but gets a little better with time. I also beleive that with many of us it is going to take a year or two, perhaps more, for all of these test numbers to change. However, we’ll feel a lot better, a lot sooner than that.

  23. Auntie M

    This terrifies me, because my newborn daughter had heart surgery and will need to see a cardiologist regularly for the rest of her life. I’m afraid they’ll prescribe statins for her “just in case”.

    The tricky part is how to handle it. My fear is that if we parents openly refuse to medicate our children with statins, the government will claim that we’re denying them necessary medical treatment and may try to take the children away. Heck, they’re doing it with overweight kids and parents who don’t want to use chemotherapy for their cancer-ridden children risk having those children taken away, even if the chemo drugs the docs want to use don’t work for whatever cancer is being treated. The increase in government involvement with the raising of children is frightening.

    I’m going to have to fight on my hands by May because my daughter is going to get some occupational therapy to help with her suck/swallow/breathe when eating. The therapist told me that the 6-month goal is to have her take rice cereal from a spoon. I said, can we just say “food with a spoon”? Her response was a snippy “Her first food WILL be rice cereal. Nutritionally it’s the best first food for her.” I didn’t want to get into it right then, but her first food WILL NOT be rice cereal. Of course, now I fear that they’ll report me to CPS or something for refusing to feed her sugar and grains that could harm her. 🙁

    That’s the essence of “progressive” government: you don’t know what’s good for you, but we do.

  24. Judy B

    The only time, expanding the market for statins did not fly, was about 5-6 years ago when they tried to suggest that dogs should get their cholesterol checked because there was now a doggie version of statins…..

    Better dogs than kids.

  25. Gary McRiddle

    My comment is mostly unrelated to the post, but I’ll tie it back up at the end. I’d like to offer some personal experience to LCNana in regards to her question.

    I used to take Effexor and Lamictal, and my wife takes Seroquel for sleep. We used to be a part of the eat-whatever-the-hell-we-want crowd, and we were pretty miserable. I was balanced enough to keep a job, but I would say my moods were more erratic when I was on the medication than they are now. I feel like now my wife only needs her medication to sleep. When I ask her if it actually does anything for her mood, she says it slows her racing thoughts, which I guess is also related to the sleep issue.

    Anyway, I had been experimenting with low carb for a few weeks when one morning I forgot to take my pills, and the most extraordinary thing happened – I felt absolutely elated; I could have danced in the aisles of my office I was in such a fantastic mood. I told her I missed a dose and she brought it to me at lunch. I took it, and wouldn’t you know it, my mood crashed. I wasn’t happy anymore. This shocked the hell out of me since I had never heard of someone experiencing a positive withdrawal with anti-depressant medication. Missed doses are usually associated with the kind of pathological behavior that fortifies a person’s belief that they need the pills to stay sane. But I couldn’t deny how happy I felt.

    So I missed a few more doses here and there. Same thing happened. Always happiness, never any depression. So I eventually made the decision to stop letting the meds drag me down and stopped cold turkey. Now I experience the world as most people do, the way it should be experienced, and it’s pretty remarkable to know just how much those pills dull your emotions, dull your life.

    I actually feel somewhat guilty for not needing medication anymore because my wife still does. She can’t sleep. She has to stay up for almost a full 24 hours, to the point of complete physical exhaustion, to get to sleep without medication. She was diagnosed bipolar a few years back, which is why she’s on Seroquel and not Lunesta, but I feel the diet has reigned in most of our mood issues, so we think of it more as a sleep aid.

    You know, what was most interesting about stopping the medication was discovering an unknown side effect I’d been experiencing for years and been attributing to a deficit in my character: muscle weakness and fatigue. When we had moved in the past, I was absolutely useless. A few boxes up the stairs and I was done. I couldn’t do anymore. I thought I was just a pansy, come to find out it was the medication all along.

    And I’m sure the same thing’s going to happen to all the kids on statins, thinking their physical shortcomings throughout their lives are due to “bad genetics” instead of their “life-saving” medications.

    I’m afraid you’re right. Those kids will end up on medications to offset the effects of the medications. Some people really and truly need drugs for their conditions, but as you discovered, others need a change in diet.

  26. Joe Brown

    A response to Michele: Good luck on the Cardiologist search. Most likely they would take one look at the heart attack and double the dose of the statin out of fear of malpractise charges. One of the greatest services that Tom provides for all of us who read his blog, is information. With my history of heart disease, it was a challange to discountinue statins – discussing it with my doctor did not help. Spending hours on research checking with many of the ligitimate sources that Tom and others furnish, I made the decision on my own realizing that I had to replace the statins ability to fight inflamation if I were to stop them. Therefore, for me, no more than 30 net grams per day carbohydrate, eliminate all sources of wheat and omega 6 oils. Take pure fish oil, vitamin D and eat lots of green vegetables. I also believe that for those of us with heart disease, daily excerise at the highest tolerance level is a must – even though, in my case anyway, it hurts but gets a little better with time. I also beleive that with many of us it is going to take a year or two, perhaps more, for all of these test numbers to change. However, we’ll feel a lot better, a lot sooner than that.

    1. mike sutton

      Exercise will help if it is aerobic… see Dr Phil Maffetone’s works for recommendations on heart rate calculations… get and use a HR monitor.

  27. AndreaLynnette

    Michele, there’s not a lot you can do. I really recommend looking for a naturopath in your area, but most states don’t let naturopaths practice medicine, despite the fact that they’re better trained. And remember that a doctor is not God, he can be wrong. If your husband knows he shouldn’t take statins, he should just NOT take them and to heck with what the doctor says about it.

    Some states have outlawed naturopaths — to protect the public, of course.

  28. Linda

    @Joe Brown
    I appreciate your post. I am in this position as well. Ended up with a stent inserted about 4 weeks ago and found out I had blockage in three arteries, but only one requiring a stent. Of course, both the family doctor and cardiologist INSIST I am facing a future heart attack if I don’t take my Lipitor. I am in the process of reading “The Great Cholesterol Con” by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, and it is quite interesting.
    I bought the damned statins but everytime I pop one, I really wonder what kind of damage I am really doing to myself.
    I am pushing myself to walk on the t’mill 6 days a week. I am taking the statin every other day right now and really considering not doing so at all. Dr. Kendrick is convinced that there is absolutely no connection btw heart disease and cholesterol and has tons of studies to back his claim.
    Please continue to post here and let us know how you are doing…..

  29. Auntie M

    This terrifies me, because my newborn daughter had heart surgery and will need to see a cardiologist regularly for the rest of her life. I’m afraid they’ll prescribe statins for her “just in case”.

    The tricky part is how to handle it. My fear is that if we parents openly refuse to medicate our children with statins, the government will claim that we’re denying them necessary medical treatment and may try to take the children away. Heck, they’re doing it with overweight kids and parents who don’t want to use chemotherapy for their cancer-ridden children risk having those children taken away, even if the chemo drugs the docs want to use don’t work for whatever cancer is being treated. The increase in government involvement with the raising of children is frightening.

    I’m going to have to fight on my hands by May because my daughter is going to get some occupational therapy to help with her suck/swallow/breathe when eating. The therapist told me that the 6-month goal is to have her take rice cereal from a spoon. I said, can we just say “food with a spoon”? Her response was a snippy “Her first food WILL be rice cereal. Nutritionally it’s the best first food for her.” I didn’t want to get into it right then, but her first food WILL NOT be rice cereal. Of course, now I fear that they’ll report me to CPS or something for refusing to feed her sugar and grains that could harm her. 🙁

    That’s the essence of “progressive” government: you don’t know what’s good for you, but we do.

  30. Judy B

    The only time, expanding the market for statins did not fly, was about 5-6 years ago when they tried to suggest that dogs should get their cholesterol checked because there was now a doggie version of statins…..

    Better dogs than kids.

  31. AndreaLynnette

    Gary McRiddle,
    I’m so sorry for your wife! If I may make a suggestion, there are some good herbal alternatives for sleep medication. I’m a serious insomniac, but I discovered this great herbal tea at bulkherbstore.com, called Sleep Tight. It’s really been helpful for me. I drink it warm, unsweetened, and with a bit of cream, and it’s done wonders for me. They also make a Snooze Tincture, which I’ve used in the past, but I like a bit of tea in the evening as a sort of “wind down” from the day.
    Catnip and chamomile are great for insomnia, and lavender is a great aromatherapy for it as well. Good luck to her!

    I haven’t had insomnia in a long time, but when I did, I found a trytophan supplement helped.

  32. Stingray

    Tom, my Dad is on statins for heart attack just over a year ago. My mom and I are trying to get him off of them but he is admittedly scared. He actually has a decent doctor who told him to lower his intake of sugar and white flour, though he did say to go whole grains (I know, I know). He also told him that red meat and butter are good and don’t cut them out. At least he got part of it.

    Anyway, the doc wanted him to be on statins for just a year to regulate things. I think the doc will be fine with him going off, now I just need to convince my dad. Do you have an article or website that you trust with all the dangers of statins spelled out? The more he reads about them I think he will change his mind. He has been having a hard time remembering things lately and he hates it. He just thinks it is old age. If I can clearly show him that that is not the case I think he will go off of them. Also, I think seeing everything else about them will help convince him as well.

    Best place to go for information on statins is here:

    http://www.spacedoc.net

    Good articles written by other doctors, which may help convince him.

  33. Mike

    “I wish your lipid professor could have a conversation with a few thousand doctors.”

    He does Tom.His name is Brian Peskin (brianpeskin.com),and he has lectured 1000’s of doctors over the years,about Omega 6,and the dangers of fish oil.Lot’s of good stuff.

    I hope the doctors listen.

  34. Linda

    @Joe Brown
    I appreciate your post. I am in this position as well. Ended up with a stent inserted about 4 weeks ago and found out I had blockage in three arteries, but only one requiring a stent. Of course, both the family doctor and cardiologist INSIST I am facing a future heart attack if I don’t take my Lipitor. I am in the process of reading “The Great Cholesterol Con” by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, and it is quite interesting.
    I bought the damned statins but everytime I pop one, I really wonder what kind of damage I am really doing to myself.
    I am pushing myself to walk on the t’mill 6 days a week. I am taking the statin every other day right now and really considering not doing so at all. Dr. Kendrick is convinced that there is absolutely no connection btw heart disease and cholesterol and has tons of studies to back his claim.
    Please continue to post here and let us know how you are doing…..

  35. Marilyn

    @Gary McRiddle. Your wife might experiment with getting plenty of protein throughout the day — lots of eggs and/or meat for breakfast, at least a hamburger patty’s worth of meat for lunch, a good serving of some kind of meat for supper. I’ve read that that can supply the necessary nutrients for the brain, so a person can sleep.

  36. AndreaLynnette

    Gary McRiddle,
    I’m so sorry for your wife! If I may make a suggestion, there are some good herbal alternatives for sleep medication. I’m a serious insomniac, but I discovered this great herbal tea at bulkherbstore.com, called Sleep Tight. It’s really been helpful for me. I drink it warm, unsweetened, and with a bit of cream, and it’s done wonders for me. They also make a Snooze Tincture, which I’ve used in the past, but I like a bit of tea in the evening as a sort of “wind down” from the day.
    Catnip and chamomile are great for insomnia, and lavender is a great aromatherapy for it as well. Good luck to her!

    I haven’t had insomnia in a long time, but when I did, I found a trytophan supplement helped.

  37. Stingray

    Tom, my Dad is on statins for heart attack just over a year ago. My mom and I are trying to get him off of them but he is admittedly scared. He actually has a decent doctor who told him to lower his intake of sugar and white flour, though he did say to go whole grains (I know, I know). He also told him that red meat and butter are good and don’t cut them out. At least he got part of it.

    Anyway, the doc wanted him to be on statins for just a year to regulate things. I think the doc will be fine with him going off, now I just need to convince my dad. Do you have an article or website that you trust with all the dangers of statins spelled out? The more he reads about them I think he will change his mind. He has been having a hard time remembering things lately and he hates it. He just thinks it is old age. If I can clearly show him that that is not the case I think he will go off of them. Also, I think seeing everything else about them will help convince him as well.

    Best place to go for information on statins is here:

    http://www.spacedoc.net

    Good articles written by other doctors, which may help convince him.

  38. Mike

    “I wish your lipid professor could have a conversation with a few thousand doctors.”

    He does Tom.His name is Brian Peskin (brianpeskin.com),and he has lectured 1000’s of doctors over the years,about Omega 6,and the dangers of fish oil.Lot’s of good stuff.

    I hope the doctors listen.

  39. Lori

    @Gary McRiddle, a friend of mine told me that 20 years ago (before we met) she stopped taking her antidepressants, and her friends remarked how much happier she seemed.

  40. Marilyn

    @Gary McRiddle. Your wife might experiment with getting plenty of protein throughout the day — lots of eggs and/or meat for breakfast, at least a hamburger patty’s worth of meat for lunch, a good serving of some kind of meat for supper. I’ve read that that can supply the necessary nutrients for the brain, so a person can sleep.

  41. Lori

    @Gary McRiddle, a friend of mine told me that 20 years ago (before we met) she stopped taking her antidepressants, and her friends remarked how much happier she seemed.

  42. Ricardo

    Hi Tom. I was just wondering if cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease then is it safe to say Inflammation does and that we should be checking more important markers like C-Reactive Protein, Fibrinogen, Homo-cysteine, Lipoprotein (a)- Little a.

    Inflammation is involved. Whether it’s the root cause is another issue. Dr. Ranvskov, for example, believes infections are involved and lead to the inflammation. Others point out that high blood sugar, smoking and stress can all cause inflammation, and they’re all linked to heart disease.

    Yes, I’d be far more interested in checking those other factors.

  43. Anne

    I feel very lucky. I had multiple stents and then went on to have bypass of my LAD. Of course I started the low fat/high carb AHA sanctioned diet and watched my cholesterol and triglycerides worsen. My doc prescribed a statin and I developed severe muscle pain within days even though I was also taking CoQ10.

    It has now been 12 yrs since bypass and am still off statins. I am so lucky I could not tolerate them.

    My lipids profile looks much, much better now that I am eating a low carb paleo diet. I am 8 yrs gluten free and 3 years low carb paleo. My heart doc sees me yearly, listens to my heart and tells me to keep up whatever I am doing.

    Going gluten free made the big impact on my health. I was 3 yrs out from bypass and having shortness of breath and pitting edema. Removing gluten totally cleared these symptoms. It took me a few more years to realize that my blood sugars were too high. The low carb paleo approach took care of that.

    Better late than never.

  44. Ricardo

    Hi Tom. I was just wondering if cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease then is it safe to say Inflammation does and that we should be checking more important markers like C-Reactive Protein, Fibrinogen, Homo-cysteine, Lipoprotein (a)- Little a.

    Inflammation is involved. Whether it’s the root cause is another issue. Dr. Ranvskov, for example, believes infections are involved and lead to the inflammation. Others point out that high blood sugar, smoking and stress can all cause inflammation, and they’re all linked to heart disease.

    Yes, I’d be far more interested in checking those other factors.

  45. Anne

    I feel very lucky. I had multiple stents and then went on to have bypass of my LAD. Of course I started the low fat/high carb AHA sanctioned diet and watched my cholesterol and triglycerides worsen. My doc prescribed a statin and I developed severe muscle pain within days even though I was also taking CoQ10.

    It has now been 12 yrs since bypass and am still off statins. I am so lucky I could not tolerate them.

    My lipids profile looks much, much better now that I am eating a low carb paleo diet. I am 8 yrs gluten free and 3 years low carb paleo. My heart doc sees me yearly, listens to my heart and tells me to keep up whatever I am doing.

    Going gluten free made the big impact on my health. I was 3 yrs out from bypass and having shortness of breath and pitting edema. Removing gluten totally cleared these symptoms. It took me a few more years to realize that my blood sugars were too high. The low carb paleo approach took care of that.

    Better late than never.

  46. Jason Sandeman

    I just read (over at Dr Mercola’s site) about how a study showed that overuse of statins actually increase your odds of developing type 2 diabetes. Great – that way a person is on the hooks for statins, an for the BIGGEST Pharma business of all – diabetes supplies. Oh, joy!

    That has shown up in the literature lately. As someone on THINCS asked, how may side effects do they need to find before they decide the dangers outweigh the supposed benefits?

  47. Debbie C.

    Scary to think about kids on statins. Well to me it’s scary to think about *anyone* on statins, though a woman on the low carb group I hang out at, who does take statins, insists: “If you do some research, you will see plenty of studies that show a reduction in heart disease and fatalities in older diabetic women (like me)[when taking statins], including studies done overseas with no big pharma funding”.

    I just don’t know which studies those are.

    Ask for references.

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