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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Statins may 'do more harm than good'

Experts say MILLIONS should not be taking them

MILLIONS of healthy Britons are needlessly taking statins every day, a major review suggests. Experts last night raised concerns that those using the cholesterol-busting drugs see next to no benefit.

They claim the advantages of taking statins for already healthy people are “vanishingly small” and insist diet and exercise deliver far more impressive results in maintaining a healthy heart. 

It has also been claimed that “raw data” on the side-effects of the drugs is being withheld. 

Statins are taken by six million Britons but remain highly controversial, with many patients complaining of crippling side-effects, while evidence suggests they have no impact on prolonging life. 

The medication works to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood and can reduce cardiovascular disease.  

In the bombshell review, author Dr Maryanne Demasi said: “Doctors prescribing statins should remain inherently sceptical because the majority of those taking [them] are healthy people at low risk, where the benefits are vanishingly small, and the raw data on side-effects is kept hidden.”

Writing in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine, Dr Demasi has been backed by a coalition of world-leading experts. 

She claims statistics are manipulated to exaggerate the benefits of statins and underplay the risks, while dissenting views have been silenced. 

Dr Demasi said: “Of utmost importance is that independent researchers are permitted to access the raw data on the side-effects of statins. 

“We have learnt from the past, as in the case of Tamiflu, that when drug companies withhold crucial trial data from the public, it perverts the results by favouring the benefits of the drug and underplaying the harms. 

“This secrecy has now cultivated doubt about the authenticity of the statin data.” 

Millions are thought to have stopped taking the drugs for fear of being crippled by side-effects, including muscle aches, memory loss, kidney problems and sleep disturbance. 

Sir Richard Thompson, the Queen’s former personal physician, said: “This formidable review adds to the voices that are questioning the cholesterol/statin/cardiovascular disease hypothesis and are criticising the presentation of many of the trial data. 

“Physicians should emphasise the benefits on cardiovascular disease of physical activity and a Mediterranean diet, both of which are effective and safer and cheaper than drugs.”  

Statins are the most commonly prescribed drug in Britain. 

They cost about £2 per month. 

But experts have criticised the decision to give cholesterol-lowering drugs to healthy people to stave off heart attacks or strokes. 

Dr Malcolm Kendrick, an NHS GP from Macclesfield, Cheshire, said: “This research clearly demonstrates that statins do more harm than good.”  

US cardiologist Dr Rita Redberg, of San Francisco Medical Centre, said: “Unfortunately, until all data is available and discussed with patients, millions of people taking these drugs will continue to have far greater chance of harm than benefit.” 

In response Metin Avkiran, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “We have more than 20 years’ worth of research showing statins are an effective way of reducing the risk of a heart attack in people at high risk. 

“The opinions expressed in this article don’t change anything and patients who have been prescribed statins should continue to take them. 

“If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.”



Anonymous said...

I read you blog quite regularly but have not commented before.
Thank you for posting this Graham.
A lot to read but it is very good to have information like this. Any form of medication, medical treatment should be discussed with our Doctor or medical team. It is having information at our fingertips that enables us to be more informed and to have a partnership with our team. It is our health and we should all want what is best without many contra-indications.

I am reminded of an earlier post you were kind enough to direct us to. After some research I found it. Part of it reads-

10 things you really need to know BEFORE considering taking statins

1. There are over 500 published scientific studies showing harmful or toxic effects of statins

2. Common side effects include muscle damage, impaired heart muscle function, liver damage, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, impaired brain function, memory and cognition, loss of libido, depression, and reduced circulating levels of key nutrients such as coenzyme Q10, selenium, glutathione, these and other factors contributing to increased risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease
3. British private health insurer BUPA cites common side-effects of statins as stomach problems – pain, diarrhoea, feeling sick and vomiting, jaundice, headache, sleep disturbances, dizziness, depression and extreme tiredness

4. Cardiovascular risk is over-predicted by risk calculators used by doctor’s to prescribe statins

5. There is no compelling evidence to show any benefits of statins for the very elderly, even though these are among the group with highest rate of statin medication

6. The 2011 Cochrane Review of the evidence from 14 randomised clinical trials (RCTs) showed that only high risk groups might gain some benefit in quality of life, while “Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk”.

7. Cochrane changed its conclusion with its review in 2014, recommending statins to all those with raised cholesterol, irrespective of risk. This revised conclusion was largely as the result of the influence of one trial headed by leading British statin advocate, Dr Rory Collins that was likely tainted by his Pharma interests. Additionally, Dr Collins has also tried his best, fortunately unsuccessfully, to bury the views of his scientific critics. The Cochrane review also discounts the importance of side effects—contrary to a gamut of evidence and clinical reporting over years, as well as the requirement to warn patients of such risks on product information leaflets.

8. The evidence that long-term use of statins significantly increases and approximately doubles the risk of type 2 diabetes is unequivocal. Brand new evidence from long-term studies also shows clear evidence that statin use increases the risk of acute and chronic kidney disease.

9. For those who have a low risk of suffering a heart attack, leading British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra argues that a daily apple will do more to protect the heart than using statins.

10. Find out how you can reduce your heart attack risk without using statins by leading metabolic cardiologist, Dr Mark Houston, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Director of the Hypertension Institute and Vascular Biology; and Medical Director of the Division of Human Nutrition at Saint Thomas Medical Group, Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

Alexandra S

Chris Lally said...

My nephew worked for a pharmaceutical company, but quit because he could no longer be a participant in the immoral profiteering of his employer.

Drug companies have trained doctors to say, "The benefits of this drug outweigh the risks." Really? Does the doctor benefit from prescribing or promoting a particular drug? I believe he / she does. (Reference Does the doctor assume any risk in prescribing a medication with potentially fatal side effects? I believe he / she doesn't.

Thank you for bringing this issue to your awesome blog. And thanks to commenter Alexandra S for all of the great information. I read every word.

baili said...

incredible read my friend!

i was not familiar with this medicine before

this is needed that side effects of any medicines must be described on on it .
mostly people don't even care to read the information page which they get with medicine .

me and hubby are always curious about the information about the medicine and weight ,composition ,indications and like to look for side effects which are rarely mentioned

Cheryl said...

My Mother in law and Father took statins. The side effects were awful.
They both suffered with increasing issues with their legs and muscle strength.
I was offered statins last year and refused.
Diet is so important for all health issues but sadly many people would rather pop a pill.
I love this blog because the information you display is invaluable.

Pam Jackson said...

I have taken some of these before in the past and although they helped with the issue a bit, they did not do that much. That along with other drugs mixing in my system just scared the crap out of me. I just had blood work done and waiting to see what my readings are but looking at essential oils or herbs to help lower what needs work. Thanks for coming over to my blog and leaving a comment.

sandy said...

good info - thanks - my husband and i were just discussing this yesterday ...

Debbie said...

diet and exercise...not the cure for everything!! i take Lipitor and it works for this girl who is not able to exercise enough. my doctor told me that i could eat cardboard and my cholesterol would sill be high, who knows!!!

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful article ~ seems well researched ~ and besides I am not a statin fan ~ too many meds handed out too freely, I think ~ especially in the USA ~

Happy Week to you,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

Carol Blackburn said...

What doctors don't tell patients is how dangerous statins can be. It's a shame.

Magic Love Crow said...

Thank you for posting this Graham!

Phil Slade said...

That's interesting about disturbed sleep. I take a low dose of statins and don't sleep too well but I think it's an age thing too.

Barb said...

Each person must be their own advocate when it comes to prescription drugs. Though I show my Drs respect, I can't imaging just blindly following their prescriptions without some research. Good article.