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Lowering cholesterol

Statin drugs worthless for routine use in healthy adults, study suggests

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: lowering cholesterol, cardiovascular disease risk, statin drugs


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(NewsTarget) A new study of cholesterol-regulating statin drugs -- published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine -- found that the drugs slightly lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with no cardiovascular disease history, but may have little capacity to reduce risk of death.

Statin drugs are prescribed to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and lessen blood vessel inflammation. They are currently the most widely used class of drug in the United States, and some experts have said that they can help ward off everything from lung disease to dementia. However, the benefits of statins on cardiovascular disease patients with healthy cholesterol levels are in doubt.

University of Toronto researchers analyzed seven previous trials of nearly 43,000 adults 55- to 75-years-old. The average adult was found to have a nearly 6 percent chance of a heart attack or stroke during a four year and four month period, whereas the groups on statins had only a 4 percent risk.

However, that means that 268 people would need to take routine statin treatment to prevent a single stroke and 61 would have to partake to prevent one nonfatal heart attack, study author Dr. Paaladinesh Thavendiranathan wrote in the article. The study also found that the actual risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes was not lessened by statins.

"Even though universal lipid-lowering therapy appears attractive ... further studies are needed to clarify the cost-effectiveness of therapy in this (healthy) group," Thavendiranathan wrote.

Consumer health advocate and pharmaceutical industry critic Mike Adams said that, while it was a positive step for a study to show statins were hardly beneficial, it should be noted that they are also dangerous.

"The great over-hyping of statin drugs now appears to have met the brick wall of hard science," Adams said. "Not only have these drugs been proven medically worthless for the vast majority of people, they're also extremely dangerous to human health due to their interference with normal human metabolic functions such as vitamin D synthesis or sex hormone production."

Byron Richards, author of "Fight for your Health: Exposing the FDA's Betrayal of America," said that natural lowering of cholesterol levels was a safer and more productive alternative.

"It has long been recognized that adults who have naturally lower cholesterol levels during their 40s and 50s have less heart disease as they grow older," wrote Richards in a NewsTarget.com article. "A large body of science supports the notion that LDL cholesterol levels lower than 130 mg/dL is an excellent goal for one and all. How a person should arrive at this goal is a matter of considerable debate.

"The use of nutritional supplements to help lower cholesterol, products that have virtually no side effects and may be highly effective, is considered by the FDA to be an illegal health claim." He said. "Instead, the FDA expects Americans to use statin drugs to accomplish this goal, even though the medications have a general anti-energy effect and long list of potentially serious side effects that are not clearly explained to those taking the medications or even to the doctors giving them out."

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