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He’s afraid that too much focus on the side effects might discourage people from taking them when they could benefit from the medications. Then a routine blood test showed he had high levels of some blood fats. "If they ruin quality of life, it's almost certainly not worth it. It included 82 cardiologists and more than 11,000 patients. Cholesterol is synthesized by the liver and intestines, and roughly 80% of the cholesterol in your body is produced by it. Prevention, after all, is the best medicine. And I just think most patients don’t really understand. Get Tips to Avoid Health Problems. Dr. Alex Berezow is a PhD microbiologist, science writer, and public speaker who specializes in the debunking of junk science for the American Council on Science and Health. Professional organizations provide widely varying recommendations on statin use, and researchers clash on their costs and benefits. Don't Panic, Everything Goes to Pot: Myths Are Driving FDA, CDC Vaping Policy, What the Hulk? Statins remain our safest and most effective drug for primary and secondary prevention of coronary artery disease. DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6727a6. There have also been suggestions that they have other, unexpected benefits too – including a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Because high cholesterol, specifically LDL, is associated with cardiovascular disease, it is desirable for people who have a high level of blood cholesterol to lower it. Source: "QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Aged ≥20 Years Told Their Cholesterol Was High Who Were Taking Lipid-Lowering Medications, by Sex and Age Group — National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2006 to 2015–2016." But for some patients, even that is unlikely to be enough. The latest issue urged doctors to be more mindful of side effects when writing prescriptions for statins. Those were followed by nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. If we can achieve the same health outcomes with fewer meds, we should probably aim for that. Not only was statin use completely unnecessary but I was perfectly healthy before they put me on statins. Prevention, after all, is the best medicine. Muscle pain is the most frequently reported statin side-effect. Alexander Turchin, MD, director of informatics research, associate professor, Harvard Medical School; endocrinologist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. Â. Rory Collins, FMed Sci, FRCP, professor of medicine and epidemiology, Oxford University, Oxford, U.K. Pencina, M. The New England Journal of Medicine, April 10, 2014.Â. Here's two pills. “The thing that struck me about the statin data is that when you look at it, the statistics are pretty sobering,” says John Mandrola, MD, a cardiologist in Louisville, K.Y., who writes about the challenges of treating patients with heart disease. But I hope the debates playing out in the media and in online forums will not keep doctors from prescribing statins, or keep patients who truly need statins from taking them. With seven million Britons taking statins, that could mean up to 1.5 million are being affected. Statins are prescription drugs used to lower cholesterol. Too Few Americans Take Statins, CDC Study Reveals, 80% of the cholesterol in your body is produced by it, MLS Soccer Shows Why Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Predictions Are Worthless, COVID: Asymptomatic Cancer Patient Was a One-Woman Super-Spreader, Comparing COVID Vaccines: Pfizer vs. Moderna vs. AstraZeneca/Oxford, COVID: Nasty Cultural Stuff that (Hopefully) Will End Because of Coronavirus, COVID Infection Fatality Rates by Sex and Age, COVID-19, Viral Load and Shedding: An Update, Why Pfizer's Vaccine Must Be Stored in the Deep, Deep Freeze, Thank You, Trial Lawyers, For Protecting Us from the Scourge of Baby Powder. ", Kailash Chand, MD, deputy chair, British Medical Association, Manchester, U.K.Â, John Mandrola, MD, electrophysiologist, Louisville Cardiology Group, Louisville, KY.Â. Should You Worry About Artificial Sweeteners? Clearly the doctors and the organization making these recommendations are marching exactly in the wrong direction and even worse are seemingly wanting their patients to come down with cancer. In studies where patients are randomly assigned to take a statin or a placebo pill, the rates of side effects reported by each group are nearly identical, leading many doctors to wonder if the side effects are really due to the medications or if something else, like the nocebo effect, might be at work. MMWR 67 (27): 771. Most experts, including Chand, are supporters of statins when they are given to people to help prevent a second heart attack or stroke. Then he happened to notice in the package insert for his medication that muscle pain might be a side effect of taking it. There are two kinds of cholesterol, HDL (the "good" kind) and LDL (the "bad" kind). “If people understood how relatively modest the benefits of statins are, they might be much more conservative about taking them, especially if they’re experiencing an adverse effect, and we don’t think the salesmanship has included an adequate emphasis on the importance of not harming people,” Perry says. Studies have shown that taking statins can lower those risks in large groups of people, but the impact on a person's individual risk is much smaller. How Long Does Coronavirus Live On Surfaces? Blood tests, X-rays, and MRI scans showed no obvious problems. Despite the controversy, many doctors embraced the idea that cholesterol was the path to heart disease. Cardiologists Disregard Cancer Implications of Statin Use Others have hailed such drugs as magic bullets against heart disease. For those unlucky folks who naturally produce a lot of cholesterol, doctors recommend drugs like Lipitor (atorvastatin), a type of drug called a statin that is used to lower cholesterol. 95% of Baby Food Tainted with Toxic Metals? After an independent panel reviewed the claims made in both papers, they declined his request, saying the papers should stand. COPYRIGHT © 1978-2020 BY THE AMERICAN COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND HEALTH. Turchin says one of his patients, who had shoulder pain while taking a statin, later turned out to have cancer, though he admits that’s an extreme example. I finally quit statins against the advice of the doctors. In 2015-16, the CDC found that 50% of men aged 60 years and older were taking a medication to lower cholesterol. A recent study out the University of California San Diego found that a whopping 65 percent of doctors don’t even bother reporting the side effects their patients tell them statins are causing. The leading doctors also argue that rather than prescribing statins, the NHS should be encouraging patients to lose weight and take more exercise. Statins, often referred to as the “gold standard” for treating high levels of harmful cholesterol, or LDL (low density lipoprotein), are one of the most widely used drugs in the world. But studies of the drugs paint a starkly different picture. The biomedical community and public health agencies would be well advised to investigate the pros and cons of such high statin prescription rates. Doctors randomly received one of two "nudges," or notifications, in their patients' electronic health records. They have certain risk factors -- age, smoking, higher cholesterol, or diabetes, for example -- that raise their chance of having a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years. Are Doctors Overprescribing Statins? Some patients have been “fired” by their doctors if they won’t take such drugs. 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