Legal disclaimer: since we are not doctors, do NOT follow anything based on health-related topics on this or related sites without first consulting with your doctor or other trusted health professional. This is NOT medical advice and we are not qualified in any way to offer medical advice.
I’ve now made it through The Truth About Statins by Barbara H Roberts, MD @AMAZON. Read this book if you are considering a statin or taking one—your quality of life or your life itself may depend on it. Women in particular should take a keen interest.
Many doctors routinely ignore side effects of statins, let alone report them*. Even doctors receptive to feedback are often too busy to take the time to report side effects. Failure to abide by “standards of practice” for cardiac disease means that millions of people get statins because doctors are under pressure to push statins to larger and larger numbers of people, when lifestyle changes would be a risk free and superior treatment
In my view, a doctor recommending a statin who has not read and carefully considered this book (including looking hard at the sorry state of the research whatever the time it takes) is engaging in medical malpractice concurrent with an unacceptable intellectual and ethical laziness.
There is a surely a justification for some people (very few) to take a statin. But it is now a multi-billion dollar business with surely many billions of additional dollars spent dealing with the side effects and tests required when taking statins.
* My personal experience with Metronidazole makes me skeptical that side effects are regularly reported, indeed less than 0.3% of all adverse drug events and 1-13% of serious events are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).. I would say it is far more likely for most side effects to go unreported, with only severe side effects to be reported. In my case, the side effects were severe, and not reported—the doctor never called me back, all I got was a nurse ignorant of the risks and I suffered further damaged as a result of a two-day delay just to hear from the nurse. That idea that hyper overloaded doctors would have the time to report mild or even moderate side effects with statins is laughable, particularly in the context of the dogmatic idea that statins are very safe.
Summarizing my take-aways from this book.
Dietary note: red rice yeast contains lovostatin and has been banned by the FDA as having the risk of muscle damage, yet this same drug is regularly prescribed!
NOT the author’s words, these are MY statements summarizing the take-aways as I understand them:
- The evidence for the benefit of statins is deeply flawed and IMO totally corrupt. It does not qualify as even bad science!. For example, the JUPITER study is severely flawed, had severe financial conflicts of interest, assessment flaws, was terminated prematurely just as it was beginning to reverse the trend. Data was suppressed/withheld, yet it was used to justify vastly expanded use of statins. Most or all of the things that should invalidate a study, and much worse.
- There is zero or near-zero evidence for women that a statin is beneficial, but with serious side-effects risks approaching 20% and some of those are life-damaging, physically and cognitively.
- Willy-nilly recommendations for statins by physicians seeking only to cover their ass from a liability standpoint.
- Confirmation bias and cognitive commitments stemming from recommended care guidelines coupled with the threat of failing to treat per guidelines surely prevent most physicians from objectively assessing statins, even if they had the time. Physicians are like anyone else—busy and with no time to critically read studies.
- Statin side effects are often not diagnosed properly or at all, causing suffering and financial harm and damaging lives to the point of hardly being livable. How many people have been damaged by statins, at huge financial and pyschological cost and how many ever got it figured out by doctors incompetent to figure it out, having cognitive commitments to statins being safe?
- Statins degrade cognitive performance along with greatly increased risk of neuropathy. Attention, psychomotor control, memory disfunction @AMAZON, learning, altered areas of the brain to be engaged are all degraded by statins. Studies are just not there on such effects for use of statins over years.
- Nerve damage can be caused by many things and there are very few treatments for nerve damage and it takes time to recover, if ever. Since statins impede the body’s ability to process cholesteral needed for nerve/brain myelination, should it surprise that nerve damage could occur? Danish researchers found that statin users were 14.2 times more likely to have polyneuropathy, climbing to 26.4 times more likely after two years, with possible diseases like ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease) resulting from statin use. What happens after 3/4/5/10/15 years of statin use? It is quite likely that diagnoses of such problems would not be attributed to statins!
- Simply eating foods like grapefruit or pomegranate can spike statin blood levels and precipitate severe physical or cognitive damage, which could be permanent.
- Blood tests for muscle damage are not reliable. Yet many physicians take the blood test as gospel, telling their patients that the statin is not responsible (to call this cruel and irresponsible is an understatement!). Yet normal blood tests following by muscle biopsies prove that damage occurs. That’s confirmation bias and cognitive blindness at work and guess who suffers? Not the doctor.
- Risks of statins escalate rapidly as the dose increases. What might have been minor muscle pain could suddenly be life altering damage or death at a higher dose. A “higher dose” can result from drug interactions or simply by eating grapefruit or pomegranate.
- There is a substantial possibility that a decade from now, statins will be seen to have done more harm than good. And even at their best, statins achieve a ridiculously marginal risk reduction, presented in a way designed to deliberately mislead (relative risk reduction based on very small numbers),
- Statins damage the operation of mitochondria (tiny energy factories in cells), which are vital to operation of every cell in the body. Many devastating diseases stem from mitochondrial defects, yet here we are pushing statins on millions of people—and statins damage mitochondria by suppressing key chemicals like co-enzyme Q10.
- Simply changing diet/lifestyle can achieve a greater risk reduction that taking a statin.
- The great majority of athletes are unable to tolerate statins.
- The side effects of statins can be severe, life changing, and sometimes fatal.
- There are special cases in which statins surely are appropriate (e.g., genetics that cause extremely high cholesterol).
- Fatal liver injury is rare, but it occurs with statins. Abnormal liver function occurs in up to 3% of statin users. What does that mean long term with the liver under assault like this?
- Rhabdomyolysis (severe muscle damage which can result in kidney failure and death) is not very common with statins, but it happens, and lower levels of muscle damage are very common. Tendonitis and tendon rupture are also seen in women. Osteoarthritis risk rises as well.
- Diabetes risk escalates by up to 300% relative risk. Compare that to 0% to (giggle) 36% relative risk reduction for statins and observe that a person most at risk of cardiac events is probably a very high risk for diabetes propensity!
- Attorneys, physicians, and other professionals leading useful lifes have had their physical and cognitive abilities destroyed by statins, leaving them crippled and unable to work or function.
How good is the evidence for statins?
First of all there is zero or near-zero hard science done! It’s all correlation and data analysis. This does not even qualify as science in my view.
- Corrupt medical associations and doctors. Doctors running studies usually have direct financial interest in seeing a drug trial succeed, which means showing benefit while minimizing or not looking for risks. Is it objectionable to call it “corrupt” when doctors have a direct financial interest in studies they run? Not in my ethical book! The drug business is driven by money. These are NOT disinterested parties. Side effects and alternatives are ignored or suppressed or not investigated. Even if the trial is double blind, analysis is subject to bias from these interests. No one in their right mind should trust any study with such conflicts which means that nearly all studies are suspect.
- Drug companies offer bribes to doctors that come in many forms: luxury trips, lucrative speaking enagements (censored to drug company topics/slides), etc. Even simple freebies like pens and knick-knacks are PROVEN in research to influence doctor decisions (even though doctors will vehemently deny being influenced). If you were born yesterday, you can ignore these points. UPDATE: as of 2020 (sometime earlier) “regular clinicians are now effectively banned by the FDA from receiving any freebies from drug or device companies” according to a doctor who wrote me on thi who continues, saying “investigators are paid handsomely for their roles in 'Advisory Councils' and 'Speakers Bureaus' for the drug companies”. And of course stock interest or patents or similar are far more lucrative. Which should make anyone extremely skeptical of any “science” these days, at scientific studies are bullshit 75% of the time. Add in financial incentives and it’s hard to have any faith at all in the results. Even if a study is reasonable, what was omitted that might argue against it for various reasons?
- Clinical trials last only a few years, but side effects can take years to appear. Yet the damage accumulates steadily until the day you’re life is ruined, perhaps permanently.
- Risk reduction achieved by taking a statin is modest at best, and presented in a highly misleading manner for cardiac disease (“50%” not “5% vs 10%”) while NOT being stated in those terms for severe life-changing risks, such as diabetes, neuropathy, muscle damage, cognitive damage, et—whose risk escalation can be up to 2600% greater, and those risks are NOT presented in relative terms. This is intellectually and ethically despicable.
- Risk reduction figures are often quoted from barely statistically significant figures and cited devoid of absolute figures. Does a risk reduction of 10% reduction sound good to you? How about 1% vs 0.9%
- Participation in the treatment or control group just by starting the study is included even after opt-out! Some studies have as many as 50% of participants ending participation early. Yet these opt-out participants are still computed into the data! This is GIGO (garbage-in = garbage-out).
- Patients taking other medications are usually excluded, so that severe and even deadly drug interactions are not detected. You are a guinea pig!
- Women are not men with breasts! Yet the medical community has long treated women as such after studying men. With statins, the response of women is not at all like men!
- The history of statin testing is a sordid tale of harm for too many unlucky guinea pigs. Some of this was from specific statins, but all statins share the same core operating mechanism of suppressing critical physiological processes. Statins are a poison you take every day in hope of a benefit greater than the risks—but the chances of having some kind of damage escalates with continued use and/or with increased dose.
- Studies are almost always short-term, thus leaving out the ongoing and escalating side effects risks which escalate 10X or even 100X in relative terms—compare that to a 15% relative risk reduction for cardiac events!
- “Hard” endpoints (death) are straightforward. “Soft” study endpoints are subject to manipulation and interpretation in the way they are reported.
- Try finding a study that compares statin usage versus a Mediterranean diet as in the LYON study, which showed results as good as statins in health outcomes, with no side effects and with numerous other greatly increased health benefits far greater in the relative risk reduction of statins for cardiac events.
- Some trials of statins have been ended due to premature death of some statin-taking participants... meaning DEATH much higher with the statin users. No one ever talks about these studies!
- There are grotesequely unethical financial conflicts of interest in a cabal of “expert” doctors with personal financial interests in statin companies.
- Drug companies fund drug trials, collect data, contractally prohibit researchers from using the data freely. Drug companies approve or disapprove study results for publication up to and including making sure studies that do not make their drugs look good are never published. You do not get tenure for going against the grain!
- Organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) are driven by MONEY, not by health. These are the same corrupt who surely harmed millions of people by recommending low-fat diets for decades.
- Vast majority of clinical trial participants were men, with very few women. Statins behave very differently in women including all the risks and no benefit for most women.