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I’ve written about statins before, highlighting the bad science behind them and Professor Philippe Even’s verdict on them as well as THINCS’s theories on cholesterol.

Recently, the Daily Mail featured a guest article by Dr Aseem Malhotra, a British cardiologist. One of Malhotra’s patients, John, had had heart surgery during the past year, went on statins and then complained of chest pains.

Malhotra performed various tests on John (emphases mine):

But after numerous investigations found nothing untoward, we recognised the real problem: his statins. So I told him to try going without them for two weeks.

The doctor explains:

These drugs, taken by eight million Britons, are routinely prescribed to anyone who suffers a heart attack as they lower the likelihood of a second attack. They have an anti-inflammatory effect, which reduces the risk of a clot forming in the heart arteries.

Statins are also prescribed to patients with high cholesterol. As has happened in the United States, the reading for a ‘high’ cholesterol level in Britain is much lower than it was several years ago. Consequently, more people are being prescribed statins:

High (Total) Cholesterol:

Old Definition: Cholesterol > 240 mg/dl total cholesterol
People under old definition: 49.5 million
New Definition: Cholesterol > 200 mg/dl total cholesterol
People added under new definition: 42.6 million
Percent increase: 86%

The definition was changed in 1998 by U.S. Air Force/Texas Coronary Atherosclerosis Prevention Study.

However, as Malhotra’s patient’s case illustrates, statins can bring a variety of alarming and unexpected aches and pains. They can also result in memory loss.

Yet, whilst patients who stop their statin treatment often experience relief from these side effects, family doctors are less happy. As Malhotra relates:

John … was elated. For the first time in months his chest pains had gone. But he now had a new concern: his GP had since told him: ‘You must never stop your statin!’

The cardiologist says that, although statins can reduce cholesterol, so can changes in diet and lifestyle.

He explains that overhyped clinical trials in the 1980s put the buzz factor into statins, perhaps unwisely:

increasingly the medical profession is discovering that the health benefits of lower cholesterol have been exaggerated.

Two recent studies have cast serious doubt on early clinical trials into statins in the 1980s. These trials overplayed how good for us they could be, which contributed to a culture of over-prescribing the drug. The studies also suggested significant side effects of statins may have been underplayed.

Last month [April 2013] one of the world’s most respected sources of medical information, the British Medical Journal, presented serious doubts. According to its report, GPs have put an extra three million people on statins in the UK over the past ten years – and have received extra funding for meeting these targets.

There has, though, been a 40 per cent reduction in the number of heart attack deaths. But while statin prescriptions may have played a role, there have been no studies that prove this link.

Studies have shown a connection between reduction in deaths and the now-routine practice of undergoing emergency angioplasty as soon as someone suffers a heart attack – unblocking the artery with a stent or balloon through keyhole surgery.

Big Pharma is largely responsible for this. How often can it be said? Never often enough.

You might have to give up your job because you can’t walk anymore or because your memory is failing you, yet Big Pharma have managed to convince your GP, also culpable for not thinking critically, that you can never give up your statin! Low cholesterol levels are king!

Think about the logic behind that. You cannot function as a normal human being but as long as you have low cholesterol levels, hey, you’re right as rain.

Statins, as I’ve said before, are another case where the cure is worse than the disease.

Fortunately — and this might come as news to Britons reading this post, as it did to me — the British Medical Journal is currently running a campaign called Too Much Medicine to combat over-prescribing of unnecessary drugs. Finally. Let’s hope it is a success.

In the meantime, it was heartening to read Dr Malhotra state that the health benefits of lower cholesterol levels have been exaggerated.

A number of Americans have been following low-fat diets for decades, some since the 1950s. It is interesting that today we have so many elderly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Some physicians maintain that we need a regular intake of animal fat in order for our brains and bodies — including the nervous system — to function properly. As we consume less animal fat, more of us are losing our memories. Could this be a coincidence?

Conventional thinkers in the medical field counter that by saying we’re all just living longer and that a diminished memory is a sad eventuality. Yet, I remember my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather who both lived to a ripe old age — in great mental health — on food they ate when they were children. This included plenty of meat, animal fat, eggs and butter. All of those are on the verboten list today. Should they be? One wonders.

Dr David Diamond’s hour-long lecture is useful testimony which debunks the taboo surrounding meat and animal fat. He actually lost weight on such a diet.

It wasn’t that long ago when scientists discovered that bacteria can cause certain ulcers. It is also thought, although it is not yet proven, that oral bacteria may cause heart disease in older people. If so, regular flossing could be more effective than statins.

The point is — we just don’t know. And neither do doctors, especially general practitioners who spend at best 10 minutes in a patient consultation.

Therefore, we should be approaching prescription drugs with the same scrutiny that we would when purchasing a new house or a new car. Why don’t we?

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