The Nation's Health + Statin drugs

Statin drug revolt

I sense a growing revolt against the intrusion of statin drugs into our lives.

No doubt, the statin drug industry is, at least from an economic perspective, a huge success: $27 billion annual revenues at last accounting. The latest big plug for more and more statins was the JUPITER trial that showed reduced cardiovascular events on Crestor in people with "normal" LDL cholesterol levels and increased c-reactive protein.

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It seems that not one day passes that doesn't include some news story about the "benefits" of statin drugs: reduction in heart attack, stroke, colon cancer, osteoporosis, heart failure, etc.

Ironically, the overwhelming economic success of the statin drug industry also seems to be encouraging a grassroots revolt.

More and more people are coming to the office, more people commenting on the web over how they want to avoid statin drugs, stop a drug they are already taking, or at least reduce the dose of an ongoing drug.

My day-to-day experience with coronary plaque control and reversal is that, while statin drugs are helpful tools, they are not necessary tools for full benefit of a prevention program. "Need" for statin drugs can differ by the patterns measured, though not the usual patterns suggested by the drug industry. For instance, using C-reactive protein, a la JUPITER, as justification for statin prescription is, in my view, totally absurd and makes no sense whatsoever, since inflammatory responses can be effective reduced with plenty of other strategies besides statin drugs. Conventional LDL, likewise, is a fictitious number that often bear little or no resemblance to the true and genuine measured value (apoprotein B or LDL particle number).

So here are a number of strategies that can help reduce or eliminate the "need" for a statin drug:

--Elimination of wheat and cornstarch--This is no namby-pamby dietary strategy, as low-fat diets were. This is a powerful, enormously effective strategy, particularly if LDL is in the small category. Small LDL drops like a stone when these foods are eliminated. This means no breads, pasta, breakfast cereals, pretzels, crackers, chips, tacos, wraps, etc.
--Non-wheat fibers--Especially raw nuts, ground flaxseed, and oat bran.
--Vitamin D restoration
--Fish oil
--Weight loss
--Niacin

There are additional strategies that focus on specific subsets of LDL cholesterol (e.g., Lp(a) masquerading as LDL). But the above list can reduce LDL cholesterol substantially, reducing the apparent "need" for a statin drug.

You will notice that there are few money makers in the above list, compared to the billions of dollars reaped by the statin drug industry. There is therefore little incentive to allow a pretty sales rep to go to your doctor and pitch the use of over-the-counter vitamin D or make changes in diet.

Statin drugs in my view need to be shoved back into their more limited role as drugs to be used on occasion when necessary (e.g., heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia with LDL cholesterol values of 250 mg/dl in a person with measurable coronary plaque). These should never have achieved the "celebrity" status they enjoy, complete with gushing endorsements by TV personalities, daily news stories, and back-to-back TV commercials.

Join the revolt!

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