Statin Benefits Overstated?
Going on a statin to reduce cholesterol has long felt like an inevitability to me, since I have a family history of high cholesterol. But what’s odd is that cardiovascular disease is not what ultimately ‘gets’ my relatives. So that got me to wondering why lowering my LDL and overall cholesterol is so important.
Serendipitously, my friend Tina posted a comment with a link to an enlightening 2008 article in Business Week: Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good? In this excerpt the author, John Carey, states that statins DO help people who have cardiovascular issues, but for those who simply have high cholesterol but no current cardiovascular disease, statins do NOT appear to offer health benefits.
“…the drugs (statins) can be life-saving in patients who already have suffered heart attacks, somewhat reducing the chances of a recurrence that could lead to an early death. But Wright had a surprise when he looked at the data for the majority of patients, like Winn, who don’t have heart disease. He found no benefit in people over the age of 65, no matter how much their cholesterol declines, and no benefit in women of any age. He did see a small reduction in the number of heart attacks for middle-aged men taking statins in clinical trials. But even for these men, there was no overall reduction in total deaths or illnesses requiring hospitalization—despite big reductions in “bad” cholesterol. “Most people are taking something with no chance of benefit and a risk of harm,” says Wright.
Reading the entire article reveals a clear divide in the medical community: some feel strongly that statins like Lipitor should be used to prevent heart disease, while others no longer agree.
Let them argue all they want: I’ve got 4 months to see if my go Lo-Co diet and exercise changes can reduce my cholesterol — and I can take myself right out of the medical debate.