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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 08, 2008

The Beginning of the End?

By Mark Sisson
37 Comments

American Academy of PediatricsDriving my daughter Devyn to the airport yesterday morning at 5:30 (she’s off to a summer-school program in Florence) I was stunned by what I was hearing on my radio. Apparently, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending much more aggressive cholesterol screening for children and urging that kids as young as eight be given statin drugs and/or other anti-cholesterol meds to fend off potential heart disease later in life. Clearly, this is a last-ditch attempt to somehow get control over an increasing problem with childhood obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol issues. What happened to dispensing advice on exercise and healthy eating? Just doesn’t pay enough? On the other hand, in their defense, something tells me they still know very little about either, hence the drugs.

Of course, if you are a regular reader here, you know that the cholesterol-heart disease connection is tenuous at best. The fat-cholesterol-heart disease connection is even more ridiculous when you understand the lead roles of glucose, insulin and inflammation in atherosclerosis. Unfortunately, we seem to have reached a critical mass (mass hysteria?) among physicians drinking the Kool-Aid dispensed by Big Pharma.

Gotta love this line from the New York Times piece: “Dr. Bhatia said that although there was not “a whole lot” of data on pediatric use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, recent research showed that the drugs were generally safe for children.” Hey, Doc, there is zero evidence to show that giving statins to kids will reduce their chances of having a heart attack later in life. Just wait until the known and common side effects like lethargy, dizziness and short-term memory loss kick in with those kids. Then you can diagnose them with ADHD and give them Adderall and Ritalin. Cool.

I have said many times on this site that statin drugs are (in my opinion – I have to disclaim it that way) the single biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public. Scariest of all is that fact that so many doctors are buying into this idea that everyone might be better served by lowering cholesterol with compounds that interfere with important biochemical pathways – pathways that are there for a good reason. We’ve done several posts on this so there’s no need to spin it again here, except for me to state cynically that if I thought a type 2 diabetic was the ideal customer (20-40 years of meds at $200 a month) wait until these kids hit the Insurance System (50+ years on statins AND all the drugs to fight the side effects AND all the type 2 diabetes drugs they’ll need because they still haven’t addressed the main issues (diet and exercise). It’s the beginning of the end of personal responsibility in health.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to Cholesterol

Deconstructing Healthcare in America – A Modest Proposal

8 Foods to Lower LDL Cholesterol, Boost HDL Cholesterol and Fight Inflammation

Control Your Lifestyle, Control Your Genes

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30 Comments on "The Beginning of the End?"

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Alex
Alex
8 years 5 months ago

I heard this last night and almost had a heart attack myself. This is absolutely ridiculous. How many more band-aids can we put on diabetes, heart disease and obesity? Why does it seem so logical, yet all the solutions that we hear about (except from places like MDA) are so illogical? It’s absurd. It’s like the dumbing of America — maybe civilization.

That sounds much more cynical than I expected. On another note, my 30 day challenge is going great!

Dana
6 years 4 months ago
Civilization is, by definition, the dumbing-down of people. It has simply become more effective at this over the last few centuries thanks to technological advances. I do not mean, by the way, to denote human society when I say “civilization.” I refer to a specific type of human society that blunts our instincts, domesticates us, and treats us like machines. We are not machines. We are organisms. And all organisms need a species-appropriate diet. And we who have been civilized haven’t eaten a species-appropriate diet for a very, very long time now. (It’s fitting that the civilized think of food… Read more »
Sasquatch
8 years 5 months ago

Unbelievable. I saw they’re recommending lowfat milk for children as well. Haven’t they noticed that obesity has been rising at the same time as lowfat milk consumption in the US, and that whole milk consumption has been declining?

Diana
Diana
7 years 27 days ago

Are you trying to say that whole milk is healthier?? Because I strongly disagree with that!

Vesna.
6 years 8 months ago
Absolutely. Lowfat milk is not only lower in healthful butterfat, but also it contains dry milk powder, which, because of its industrial processing, has oxidized cholesterol. (Milk powder is not required to be listed on the label of nonfat or lowfat dairy products, because it is considered a component of the legal definition of “lowfat milk” and “nonfat milk.”) Oxidized cholesterol is damaged, and hazardous to consume. In fact, it’s probably the ONLY kind of cholesterol that actually can lead to heart disease! The reason the milk powder is added is to give some body to what otherwise would be… Read more »
Dana
6 years 4 months ago
It’s been shown in scientific studies that calcium cannot be assimilated effectively without fat. This is not just from WAPF by the way. I ran across it on a site that publishes abstracts of medical and nutritional studies. They found that the higher the ratio of fiber to fat intake in the diet, the less calcium was absorbed from dairy foods. Dairy fat is good. It’s also an excellent substitute for the fat we would have gotten from grazing animals if we were still hunter-gatherers going for the oldest critter in the herd. We have big brains and cells and… Read more »
Kevin
Kevin
8 years 5 months ago
I don’t know why this is such a bad thing. First, nobody should be listening to these guys, and anyone who does has made that choice in the face of reasonable alternatives like, say, MDA. Second, the more craziness of this nature that they publish, the more quickly their audiences will attrite. The source of any real suffering here is that people are willing to abdicate responsibility for their health-related decision making to doctors, drug companies, insurance companies, the government, the NYT, et al. If it weren’t for the hordes of people lined up to buy what they’re told to… Read more »
Jen
Jen
8 years 5 months ago
I saw this as well yesterday and was utterly appalled! My 2-year-old daughter’s pediatrician told me last year to expect the organization’s low fat milk recommendation. (Because my daughter is normal weight and the added fats are so important for brain development, she told me to ignore it outright.) It’s funny, I think I thought the same thing about the world (or all sanity at least) coming to an end with this declaration. I read the article at the same time I read some reviews and op-eds about the new kids’ movie WALL-E. My daughter is too young for the… Read more »
Dana
6 years 4 months ago

If I were a pediatrician and someone came in with a child who was not normal weight, my first suggestion would be to drop the starches and sugars, not to switch to lowfat milk. If you drink milk with little to no fat, you might as well be drinking chalk water. You won’t even get enough calcium out of the deal. The milkfat is needed for its absorption.

artsci
artsci
8 years 5 months ago

I am disgusted with our pharmaceutical-based healthcare system. I can’t discuss this issue without almost becoming enraged.

I have enough personal and family experience with this to fill a book (sadly this makes me a member of the majority). When health care professionals chronically push drugs that should only be utilized in worst case scenarios – I can’t imagine how people with a little less backbone or intelligence can escape with their health or wallet intact.

Sonagi
Sonagi
8 years 5 months ago

Some doctors treat statins like they are candy. After a lifetime of very low cholesterol and blood pressure, my mom’s numbers have started creeping up but are still in a very healthy range, well below 200 and a 3.2 ratio. This creep has coincided with a weight gain brought on from inactivity owing to COPD. (She has quit smoking) A cardiologist diagnosed her with “pure hypercholestemia” and put her on Zocor. Her GP opposes the diagnosis and the prescription. My mom has wised up and will go off the medication with her GP’s supervision.

Amy
8 years 5 months ago

Amen to everything stated here. Unbelievable!

Huckleberry
8 years 5 months ago

I was shocked, and blogged about this too. Replacing actual wholesome foods (like whole milk!) with drugs that are completely untested on children is absolutely shameful. It sounds like there has been enormous backlash in the last 24 hours. It’ll be interesting to see if the recommendation changes.

Food Is Love

Chris
8 years 5 months ago
nicole
nicole
8 years 5 months ago
well, playing devil’s advocate here, i think it’s gotten to the point where doctors have to FORCE us to lose weight. just because a doctor tells a patient to “eat less, move more”, doesn’t mean he or she will. the child can’t fend for themselves, and what’s to say the parent will listen if the doctor DOES give them sound nutritional advice? it’s more effective for the doctor to prescribe a medication, albeit an ineffective one, than to chance the parents not setting a good example for their child(ren). regardless, if putting kids on cholesterol medication will make their parents… Read more »
Dana
6 years 4 months ago
Eating less and moving more doesn’t work. If it did, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic. You have to eat RIGHT first… then your body will want to move. If I’m eating like crap I have zero energy. And pushing me to move more won’t do any good because all that energy I stored up in obesity isn’t going anywhere. I’ll just wind up more tired in the end, and probably losing muscle and bone mass too. Cholesterol medication doesn’t cause weight loss and I can’t believe you think it’s good for anybody, much less children. Statins destroy health far… Read more »
Chris
8 years 5 months ago

Nicole – I do not understand your points?

It is not just that statins are ineffective it is that they may be potentially harmful.

If you read the post above, you will note that choleserol is generally not an issue anyway

Plus, if parents see their kids on drugs I think they’d be less likely to effect the necessary lifestyle changes. They wouldn’t see them as necessary if their children are being drugged.

Heather
8 years 4 months ago
To add to Chris’s last statment, I wonder if parents who were told that their children needed lifelong medication wouldn’t be even MORE likely to give in to the desire to “spoil” their kid with junk… If they’re dumb enough to believe an unproven drug will work then they might be dumb enough to think, “Poor little Johnny deserves some ice cream & a movie because he’s sick.” I don’t mean to come as terribly negative, but there are TONS of unfit parents out there, as evidenced by the TONS of unfit (and by that I mean unhealthy) children everywhere.… Read more »
Dana
6 years 4 months ago
Low-fat diets, heavily grain based, with all the wrong dietary fats (polyunsaturated vegetable oils, trans fats, and barely any saturated fats at all), and way too much sugar. And I would be very careful branding parents unfit. Mediocre, that I will grant you. But declaring a parent unfit, officially, in the system, means the child winds up in foster care and even with all these overentitled childless people screaming that it’s too hard to adopt, I don’t see them rushing in to rescue the foster care kids. It is not a fate I would wish on anyone unless they were… Read more »
Meg
Meg
7 years 11 months ago
Nicole, You response that doctors would be justified in prescribing anything because doctors might have to “FORCE us” to be healthy gave me chills. So many people in America have slipped unawares into the kind of thinking that rolls out a red carpet for totalitarian government. When did people start thinking that “We the People” deserve to be forced, collectively, on issues of personal choice, because some make choices others don’t agree with? What happened to each person making their own choices and agreeing to disagree (but not taking control of another’s life)? Much as it can be frustrating to… Read more »
Mike
Mike
6 years 11 months ago
Meg, I tend to agree that government mandates often do more harm than good, and it’s up to the individual to choose how to treat his/her own body. But… (there’s a big but here), in this case we’re talking about doctors forcing _children_ to act healthy (hypothetically healthy, in this case statins aren’t the healthy choice). I doubt most children have the knowledge of nutrition or sound judgment to do whats best for them, and if the government doesn’t make choices for them then the parent will. Take, for example, the ultra-crazy parents who disbelieve all of modern medicine and… Read more »
Dana
6 years 4 months ago
“Take, for example, the ultra-crazy parents who disbelieve all of modern medicine and will only pray if their children get sick — I’ll be happier if the medicine-using government is the one making those decisions.” I wouldn’t. Patients have the absolute right to refuse medical care and, if not competent to make their own choices, their representative agents may make those choices for them. Which ought to be the parents, not the government. “For their own good” is so often an excuse used to destroy entire cultures. I say let those cultures stand or fall on their own merits. I… Read more »
Brian
Brian
7 years 8 months ago

Statins lower Choloesterol more than can be possibly be done with diet and exercise alone (lifestyle changes). The newer drugs on the market (especially Crestor) will lower bad cholesterol over 50% and there is a wealth of data out there that shows when you get LDL below 70mg/dl you significantly reduce the chance of an MI. And if you read the Prescribing Index you’ll notice that these drugs are indicated to work “in conjunction with diet and exercise”, not instead of them.

Dana
6 years 4 months ago

It pays too well to be a poison pusher for you to be doing it for free on the blog of a man who emphatically disagrees with you.

Dana
6 years 4 months ago

By the way, there is no such thing as a statin deficiency disease, and I challenge you to prove me wrong.

Derek Weiss
Derek Weiss
6 years 5 months ago
This is a great site, with valuable resources and ideas. But like any other nutrition site, one has to wonder if moderation is the key to being healthy. As in, enjoy your life, eat a variety of foods, exercise to suit your needs, whether you’re a competitive athlete or not, and take everybody’s advice with a grain of proverbial salt. Everybody has their passion, as does the author of this site. Read, process the information, then decide what’s right for you. My guess is that avoiding the extremes, not worrying about it too much, and just being sensible will go… Read more »
expatjim
expatjim
6 years 4 months ago

second that. I think that Mark does a good job of encouraging people to keep an open mind but sometimes we can confuse hypothesis and fact.

Dana
6 years 4 months ago

Having a strong opinion about something does not constitute being extreme. It is possible to be passionate about being moderate.

But complaining about extremism does not change what appear to be the relevant laws of nature in this instance. Statins hurt people. That is established scientific fact. There is no such thing as a statin deficiency disease. That is yet another established scientific fact.

Vivian
Vivian
6 years 4 months ago

I thought this was another one of those satires you do at first. Unbelievable. What this country has come too… tsk tsk.

Robert Su, M.D.
6 years 4 months ago

I have been afraid of and realized pushing statin drugs onto children would come sooner or later, under the deal between the big pharmaceutical business and the organized medicine.

Sad!

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