Christian Living

healthenews 11/10/08

Heart Breakthrough with Statins? Don't Bet on It

The news reports suggest it's a stunning breakthrough. Statins, those drugs popularized for cholesterol reduction, can also reduce inflammation that plays a role in heart and circulatory disease.

Now the summons goes out to get all these healthy people with normal cholesterol to get on statins, too. Your cholesterol is fine, but your inflammation is killing you. This particular study looked at the statin Crestor/Rosuvastatin.

With this Jupiter study, the media and doctors now call the statins "potent protection against the nation's leading killers," suggest huge "public health benefits," and claim the study as a "blockbuster." However, Dr. John Abramson of Harvard, says, "We're already struggling to provide health services for the 46 million Americans who don't have health insurance in the United States. This is going to drain away a lot of money from the system for little or no benefit. We know that there are lifestyle interventions that are effective."

The drug companies may have figured that since tinkering with cholesterol isn't really saving any lives, let's expand our market by trumpeting the long-known fact that these drugs lower inflammation -- at least as indicated by a test called CRP (C-reactive protein). Somehow magically the very same drugs will start doing what they never did from the beginning -- which is reduce death from heart disease.

Now, it's not bad to lower CRP because inflammation isn't good. However, what about the bottom line? Are there side effects and long-term benefits from statins?

Basically, less than one in a hundred will get a benefit from statins in the short term while nearly everyone will gain risk. We'll be messing with everyone's livers because that's what statins do; Crestor is considered worse than the other statins for side effects.

So you or whoever pays for your drugs will be shelling out $1300 a year to play this medical roulette wheel. Once again the odds appear to be in favor of the house. So unless you want to gamble with your health, perhaps go elsewhere. Perhaps even set aside the $1300 -- which I'll explain shortly.

There's more bad news. The drug study found an increased risk of diabetes. Plus the study was stopped prematurely -- perhaps so they wouldn't find all the other side effects that could have ensued with another two years added to the study.

And don't forget, your brain needs cholesterol -- so let's reduce that in more and more people so we can increase our risk of Alzheimer's. Not surprisingly, memory problems are commonly found in statin users. Almost forgot, statins also increase the risk of breast cancer.

So, where is elsewhere? According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin C and vitamin E individually reduce CRP by over 30 percent each. That's almost as much as Crestor alone -- without the side effects.

Vitamins and nutrients appear to be the better bet. Adding vitamin D to the mix, dosages of C (2000 mg), D (2000 IU), E (400 IU) may be a good place to start. So consider spending your money on nutrients rather than on side effects and you could pocket $1100 in the difference.

And if you still want to take a statin, only listen to the recommendations of a physician who understands the big picture about the pros and cons. Cardiologist Stephen Sinatra says very few people should be on a statin; he recommends them only in special cases and at a low dose.

Remember, too, if you take a statin, you need to take coenzyme Q10 -- a crucial energy nutrient that statins reduce in the body. By the way, coenzyme Q10 is vital for all muscles -- including the heart. Reducing it without replacing could be deadly.

After all, good old Earth might be a better place to live than Jupiter.

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