Statin Insanity

Don’t know whether to laugh or cry (I have already screamed), but the headline in today’s LA Times and in many major papers across the country seemed like a paid advertisement for Big Pharma.

“A New Front on Heart Disease: Stain drugs can cut cardiac and stroke risks in people with normal cholesterol levels, researchers say.”  Wow! As I predict Dr. Michael Eades will say, “Jesus wept.”  As I say, “here we go again digging a hole to place the ladder in so you can wash the basement windows.”

The message in the newspaper, extrapolated from conclusions reached by the researchers, suggests that even healthy people (like you and me) with low or normal cholesterol levels can reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes by taking rosuvastatin (aka Crestor). Of course, the study was funded by AztraZaneca, maker of Crestor. Grok wept.

Many of my fellow health bloggers will be writing about this study in the coming days. Some of those very smart people will explain this far more eloquently than me, but I would bet they all will agree that the headlines from this study are dangerous, ill-thought and possibly paradigm-shifting in the wrong direction.

In essence, the study looked at people who had relatively low cholesterol (and specifically low LDL) but high C-reactive Protein. CRP is a marker of arterial inflammation, which I have always maintained is a far greater “cause” of heart disease than cholesterol levels. (Oh, by the way, did I mention that the lead investigator in this study owns a patent on the test for CRP). Of note, the median age of this group was 66, more than half were overweight according to BMI charts and 41 percent had metabolic syndrome. The study found after two years that there were fewer cardiac and stroke “incidents” in the group taking rosuvastatin than in the placebo group. Fair enough, I guess. But in terms of serious cardiac and stroke events, the reduction went from 1.7 percent in the placebo population to .9 percent in the statin group – a total reduction of .8 percent (zero point eight percent). And as Merril Goozner says, the difference between both of these fairly old and not-too-healthy groups in all the serious adverse events of any type reported (including all cardiovascular events) was almost exactly equal, so “giving statins to people with elevated CRP did nothing to improve this population’s overall health.” Meanwhile, Here’s what spacedoc has to say about the dangerous side-effects of Crestor:

Cognitive, muscle and nerve problems, due to the inevitable impairment of glial cell cholesterol synthesis and mevalonate blockade are only part of the problem. The Crestor side effect potential, that it shares with all other statins, is far more basic than this. Now we have learned that mitochondria are an inevitable target of statins. Because of inhibition of CoQ10 availability with its powerful anti-oxidant effect, mitochondria are left fully exposed to the mutagenic effect of free radicals. The resulting mutations of mitochondria are what is causing the legions of permanent, disabling side effects.


If anything, this study is just another bit of proof that total cholesterol and even total LDL are not the proximate cause of heart disease. Oxidation and resulting inflammation are. Furthermore, it suggests that reducing inflammation has a far greater benefit than reducing LDL cholesterol. I agree. So why won’t the medical establishment acknowledge this? The bigger question is: why would any doctor agree to prescribe a dangerous, expensive statin to the general public to save a few more lives by reducing inflammation (NOT by reducing cholesterol), when this could be far more easily and more significantly achieved (at far less cost, with far fewer side effects and with far greater effectiveness) with Omega 3-rich oils (I herein disclaim that I sell fish oil) and a few simple dietary adjustments like cutting back on grains and trans fats?

The fact that the media has bought into this hype again reminds me to remind you that all health decisions are best left to the expert – in this case, it’s YOU. You know what to do.

Further Reading:

The Beginning of the End? – Statins for Children

The Definitive Guide to Cholesterol

Flame Thrower: Top 10 Natural Ways to Reduce Inflammation

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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