Today we would like to highlight an excellent article by Christiane Northrup, MD: Statins are not a panacea.
Dr. Northrup sets her sights on statin drugs, a class of pharmaceuticals that are designed to lower cholesterol levels. The big news push of late concerning these drugs has been based on a recent study which reported that in addition to high cholesterol levels, inflammation is a independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This knowledge is not novel, but the spin put on its announcement has certainly presented it as such. The worrying factor involved here is that the study seems almost transparently a marketing ploy: the drug used in the study was manufactured by the company that funded the research. Additionally, the study suggested that physicians begin regular testing for C-reactive proteins (CPR); while tests for this measure have been available for some time, this particular recommendation comes now, from this study, whose head researcher happens to own a patent on a new CPR test.
Conflicting interests of this sort in the current research of pharmaceutical drugs are all too common, but what Northrup truly takes issue with is how these manufacturers are trying to stake out a larger market share. The drug in question, which was initially prescribed to lower cholesterol, is now trying to branch outóthe study recommends statins for anyone with inflammation, even those who are healthy and not at risk for heart disease.
One of the large issues with this is that the saftey of statin drugs is not fully understood. What has been shown repeatedly though, is that statins lower CoQ10, an essential enzyme for many bodily systems. This alone can cause problems with heart disease, muscle weakness, liver, nerve, and brain damage, as well as cancer, all of which is detailed at some length by Dr. Northrup. And statins have yet to show that they are actually helping: some of the biggest (and least publicized) studies have concluded that there is no difference in cardiac and death rates for those taking statins for high cholesterol from those who are not. With that in mind, it would seem prudent to find some other measure for which statins could be marketed. The fact is though, that people at no risk of heart disease may find other ways to go about lowering inflammation, and prescribing relatively new, unproven drugs to those individuals who don't need them seems a bit of a careless swindle.
From Dr. Northrup's concluding remarks:
Donít be sucked in by this study. Do some research and understand all the facts around this issue before taking statins. The press reported that the study was stopped because [the manufacturing company] felt that the benefits of [their statin] and insights from the study were too important not to share now. But when you dig deeper, you also find out that the study was halted after two years to inflate the alleged benefits of the drug. This combined with the fact that both the company who funded the study and lead researcher had much to gain from its results make it look suspect.
Dr. Northrup's suggestion: a good multi-vitamin/mineral high in antioxidants, a low-glycemic diet, and having an active, healthy lifestyle. For the full article, have a look here: Buyer Beware, by Christiane Northrup.