As we have reported frequently here at Health Impact News, sales of drugs to lower cholesterol are the top selling drugs of all time. It is a $100 billion a year industry. The cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor is the best-selling drug of all time, grossing over $140 billion, with no serious close competitors in the history of pharmaceutical drugs. One out of every four Americans over the age of 50 is taking a statin drug to lower their cholesterol. However, these block buster drugs have run through their patent life, and now generics dominate the market. So Big Pharma is looking at new ways to patent new drugs to lower your cholesterol. The latest? A vaccine is being developed to lower your cholesterol. In recent years, class action lawsuits have been stacking up against statin drug manufacturers due to the terrible side effects, including diabetes. Is this another reason for turning to vaccines to "cure" cholesterol? In this country, lawsuits against vaccines are prohibited while civil suits against prescription or over-the-counter drugs are allowed.
The pharmaceutical empire strikes back. After the recent few years of increasing “statin deniers” getting an occasional mainstream media appearance, vested interest parties are coming up with studies to “prove” statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) are safe. The problem is most folks on the fence, as most are, will be distracted by these studies no matter how biased and without merit they may be. Doctors who know the truth about statins are forced to pick any such statin safety study apart in response in order to straighten out doctors who prescribe statins based on pharmaceutical reps’ presentations and industry biased studies. One such doctor who is outspokenly critical of statin drugs, Scottish General Practitioner (GP) Malcom Kendrick, M.D., recently focused on a Lancet paper that intended to prove side effects from statin drugs were not only greatly exaggerated, but all in the patients' heads. According to the paper, patients were suffering from the “nocebo effect,” due to all the rising information regarding statin side effect symptoms publicly reported. In addition to his analysis of the study and comparisons to other studies, Dr. Kendrick offers his personal and professional experiences of taking patients off statins and watching them recover from torn or ravaged muscles and early onset dementia, among other side effects. Dr. Kendrick’s father, whose side effects had him wheel chair bound until his doctor-son convinced him to quit taking statins is an example he offered. No nocebo effects had them in such terrible shape that was relieved when they got off statins.
A 2017 meta-analysis of 29 studies has concluded that consuming dietary dairy fat has no negative effects on all cause mortality or mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD). This includes dairy fats of all types. One of the researchers, Ian Givens of England’s Reading University, commented on the record: “There’s been a lot of publicity over the last 5 to 10 years about how saturated fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and a belief has grown up that they must increase the risk, but they don’t.” Actually, dairy and other animal sourced saturated fats have been wrongly condemned as a contributor to obesity and higher cardiovascular risk since Ancel Keys' notorious seven countries study over 50 years ago, which spawned the “lipid theory” of heart disease and obesity.
Since 2015 there have been a few pharmaceutical companies working on a new cholesterol-lowering drug type as a replacement for the older class of statin drugs, such as Lipitor. Lipitor was the best-selling drug of all time, but its patent expired a few years ago. The new mantra is getting LDL cholesterol levels lower than statin drugs. The drug class of these new cholesterol-lowering drugs is a PCSK9 inhibitor. Of course, this is madness for two reasons: (1) Cholesterol and fats, in general, are not the cause of heart disease; (2) cholesterol is vital for hormone production and nervous system and brain function. The fact is that cholesterol is vitally essential for good health, and lowering cholesterol artificially can and does lead to more immediate health problems, and a lower life expectancy. So why the focus for a new cholesterol-lowering drug? Once again, we follow the money.
War on Saturated Fats Has Harmed People in Poor Countries Who Shunned Traditional Fats Like Coconut Oil
One of the most pervasive dangerous food myths has been the lipid hypothesis or theory of heart disease. It proclaims that eating foods containing saturated fats are the root cause of obesity and heart disease. It has prevailed for over a half-century and is only now beginning to deteriorate. The most obvious harm done by the false propaganda against saturated fats in traditional foods are with regions that relied heavily on saturated fats for centuries, especially edible tropical oils such as coconut oil prior to the lipid hypothesis or theory's dogma that permeated and replaced their traditional diets. A recent paper, “Coconut oil and palm oil's role in nutrition, health and national development: A review,” was published in the September 2016 Ghana Medical Journal (GMJ).
Is saturated fat really the health hazard it’s been made out to be? Dr. Aseem Malhotra is an interventional cardiologist consultant in London, U.K., who gained quite a bit of publicity after the publication of his peer-reviewed editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2013. In it, he seriously challenges the conventional view on saturated fats, and reviews how recent studies have failed to find any significant association between saturated fat and cardiovascular risk. In fact, Malhotra reports that two-thirds of people admitted to hospitals with acute myocardial infarction have completely normal cholesterol levels.
Let’s look at statin guidelines. The new guidelines recommend nearly half of Americans over the age of 40—more than 50 million people—may qualify for taking a statin drug in order to lower their heart attack risk. I have written in my blog posts, newsletter, and in my book, The Statin Disaster, that statin drugs fail nearly 99% who take them—they neither prevent heart attacks nor have they been shown to help people live longer. Where is the evidence that statins help lower coronary calcium levels? There isn’t any. In fact, the opposite is true: research has shown that statin use actually increases the deposition of calcium in coronary arteries. Yes, you read that right. In fact, researchers reported, “…coronary artery calcium progression was fastest among participants using statins…” This wasn’t the only study to report that fact. Other researchers have concluded, “Independent of their plaque-regressive effects, statins promote coronary atheroma calcification.” Folks, evidence-based medicine should be used and embraced. It is too bad that conventional medicine fails to use it when it comes to statins (as well as many other drug therapies). The evidence behind the statin studies should expose statins as one of the greatest failures in modern medicine.
One in three Americans aged 40 and over take a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, and nearly half of people over age 75 are on them, despite their risks, and the fact that “high” cholesterol is not always the enemy it’s made out to be. Statins have a long list of side effects, and may even lead to the very problem you’re trying to avoid — heart disease — as the drug inhibits both Coenzyme Q10 and vitamin K2. Statins also reduce squalene, which can raise your risk of immune system dysfunction. Now, the drug industry is rolling out yet another cholesterol-lowering medication that may turn out to be even worse than statins.
A 2015 study in Critical Care Medicine is titled, “Lipid Paradox in Acute Myocardial Infarction- The Association with 30-Day In-Hospital Mortality.” This study followed 724 hospitalized patients who suffered an acute heart attack (i.e., myocardial infarction). The scientists attempted to clarify the relationship between the lipid profiles and the 30-day mortality in patients who suffered a heart attack. The authors found that those with lower LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels had a significantly elevated mortality risk when compared to patients with higher LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Why would lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels be associated with a higher mortality rate? Fats from triglycerides are a major energy source and LDL-cholesterol is critical for cell membrane synthesis and is needed to fight infections. Adequate LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be critical for cell function and survival in the case of a heart attack—as well as in other conditions. Folks, we have been hoodwinked to believe that we must all take cholesterol-lowering medications in order to prevent and/or treat heart disease. People do not get heart disease because their cholesterol level is elevated. Remember, 50% of patients who suffer a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels.
Heart disease, as many of us know, is one of the leading causes of death in the US, killing about 610,000 people each year. Big Pharma—in the belief that cholesterol is the primary factor in heart disease—developed statin drugs that would lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The drugs, which have been accompanied by massive marketing campaigns, are huge moneymakers for the drug industry, to the tune of about $29 billion worth of sales in 2013. That’s the kind of outrageous money you make when you convince one in four Americans over the age of 45 to take statins.