Last summer, I wrote a post summarising the French physician, researcher and professor Philippe Even’s debunking of the dangers of second hand smoke.

Late in 2012, Even (pron. ‘Ay-vahn’) and noted urologist Bernard Debré co-authored a book called Guide des 4 000 médicaments utiles, inutiles ou dangereux (A Guide to 4000 Useful, Useless or Dangerous Medicines).

Even’s latest work is called La Vérité sur le cholestérol (The Truth about Cholesterol), which has been making quite a stir in the French health community. I’ve heard him interviewed on RTL and, one week ago, on RMC.

The RMC interview went a bit more in depth than RTL’s, probably because Even appeared on Les Grandes Gueules, the lively mid-morning news debate co-hosted by Olivier Truchot and Alain Marschall. I mention this because Truchot introduced the segment by saying, ‘Incidentally, my colleague Alain Marschall is taking Crestor, so he might find this of interest’.

The panellists on the show were all men, which was just as well once Even began going into the side effects of statins. Many of us know of reports of statin patients who experience memory loss and/or severe muscular pain within a short time after they start the medication.

Even advised stopping the statins in such cases: ‘What is the point of continuing with a medication that is giving you pain? These ailments could become much worse in 10 or 20 years’ time.’ He said that patients who stopped statins altogether noticed an improvement in their health within a few days’ time. He added that this included side effects of a ‘sexual’ nature.

At that point, a high-pitched nervous laugh went up in the studio — Marschall? — followed by an uncomfortable silence.

So, we might well add erectile dysfunction to the list of statins’ possible side effects.

The following is a summary of Even’s findings on cholesterol and statins taken from l’Internaute, Le Nouvel Observateur and Atlantico:

– Cholesterol often poses no danger. On RMC, he said that if there is only a high cholesterol reading and no other heart or cardiovascular problems, then the patient should think twice about taking statins.

– High cholesterol alone will not cause a heart attack or stroke: ‘there has been no such example from the beginning of prescription drugs up to the present day’.

– Professor Even studied 50 clinical trials of cholesterol which showed that statins made no difference to the frequency of cardiovascular disease-related illnesses.

– Only patients with a 3mg cholesterol reading should consider statins on their doctor’s advice (also see above caveat — provided something else is present which could indicate a heart condition). Currently, patients with as low a reading as 1.5mg receive a prescription.

– Statins do little to reduce cholesterol in 90% of cases.

– Doctors exaggerate the dangers of cholesterol when talking to their patients.

– Cholesterol-reducing drugs, such as statins, are a €2bn per annum business in France, €25bn worldwide.

– In France, there are only 100,000 people with high cholesterol running in their families who should be taking statins — yet, 5 million French are on them!

Even said that the best way to reduce one’s cholesterol is to make changes to one’s diet, increase one’s amount of physical exercise and, if necessary, modify certain lifestyle habits.

He added that people are becoming increasingly wary of blanket prescriptions for statins and other powerful drugs but warned that it would take ‘probably five or six years’ before pharmaceutical companies feel suitably pressured to change their ways of promoting prescription drugs.

The truth is that there is no firmly established ’cause’ or ’causes’ of heart disease and stroke. I know that will surprise many, but remember that Big Pharma, insurance companies and the medical field  have to have a fear-inducing industry in order to exist.

Ask yourself these questions. We are in the 21st century, yet, a) is there a cure for cancer or b) a cure for heart disease or stroke? No! Big Pharma and health professionals — including researchers — rely on unfounded fear and faulty studies to keep their jobs.

Professor Even admitted — when debunking second-hand smoking — that he had to hold to ‘certain positions’ in order to be able to work in his field.

The Nouvel Obs article mentioned an interesting group — Thincs — The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, founded by a Swedish doctor and independent researcher, Dr Uffe Ravnskov. More on that tomorrow.

Tomorrow: More cholesterol-related myths questioned