Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Statins Anonymous

Bacon tastes good

I'm writing about a subject very close to my heart. For decades now we have been hectored by our doctors and indirectly by the pharmaceutical companies about the harmful effect of high blood cholesterol. We have been told the dire consequences of not reducing our cholesterol by diet and by cholesterol lowering drugs called statins.  

Two years ago my General Practitioner conducted a routine blood panel as part of my health 'warrant of fitness'. My biochemical parameters came out fine, except one. My cholesterol was rather high and my doc said I was at significant risk of heart disease or a vascular event such as a stroke. On my doctor's recommendation I immediately started a course of statins. Within a relatively short time I started to feel crap. My muscles started to ache, I became irritable and became very testy with colleagues and loved ones. In addition, I became fatigued and lost zest for life. Within three weeks I stopped taking the drug and quickly felt much better. Since my brush with statins I haven't renewed my medication but have cut back on the cholesterol bearing foods such as cheese, red meats etc. Nothing too severe though and I still enjoy my life to the full. Therefore, I read with interest about an extensive study published in the prestigious British Medical Journal. Essentially, the study involved 70,000 subjects and found no link between 'bad' cholesterol and cardiac disease in the over 60s. They also found that 92% of people with high cholesterol lived longer!
The studies conclusion:
 "Lowering cholesterol with medications is a total waste of time"
Professor Sherif Sultan, University of Ireland 

Of course we are always prone to believe in things we would like to be true. This is a failing of human nature and this why we should base our decisions on sound data sets regardless of whether the conclusion is to our liking our not. I've reviewed the primary source and I'm fairly convinced that the study was well designed and sound. 

I'm sure this study will attract a gaggle of 'nay sayers' and this will be certainly led by the mighty pharmaceutical industry. Statins are big business after all and the staple of the pharmaceutical stable. In the UK alone cholesterol busting statins garner a majestic £100 million a year. Be prepared for some dubious posturing by 'Big Pharm' and even more dubious statistics. Pharmaceutical companies are not going to give up without a fight and have no vested interest in the truth but are ultimately concerned with protecting their lucrative profit margins.

I am sure this debate wont go away soon and I will keep my diligent readers up-dated as the story unfolds.




  1. As you know, I had horrendous problems when they stuck me on statins. They certainly lowered my cholesterol but oh! the side effects were awful.

    If anyone reading this is putting up with the same shit on statins, my advise is go back to yu doctor and ask them for bezafibrate. Knocked my cholesterol down just like statins but I had no side effects at all...

    1. I suspect it is too early for you to ask your doc to review whether you need cholesterol lowering drugs in the light of new research. GPs play it conservatively and rightly so. It will be interesting to see whether this latest research holds up to critical scrutiny. It was certainly a large study and if the methodology is sound it should be taken seriously. That being the case it will probably take a few years to filter through to GPs via the specialists.