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Thursday 23 January 2014

Statins. From 'wonder' drug to 'killer' drug?

Statin drugs have rapidly moved from ‘Wonder Drug’ to ‘Killer Drug’. This is something that happens all too often within the world of Big Pharma, and the drug and vaccine-ridden world of the Conventional Medical Establishment.

Statin drugs were first tested in the 1970‘s, and were found to block substances used by your body to create cholesterol, and also helped the body to re-absorb the cholesterol it created. Lovastatin (brand name Mevacor) was approved for sale in 1987. By the mid-1990‘s Big Pharma produced evidence suggesting that Statin drug’s reduced mortality in people with high cholesterol. Statins had arrived, and soon many new Statin drugs were put on the market - pravastatin, simvastatin, fluvastatin, cerivastatin, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin, with trade names such as Lipitor, Lescol, Pravachol Zocor and Crestor. And no doubt many others!

Statins replaced drugs such as Bile acid resins (Questran, Colestid), which it is now admitted had dreadful side effects, causing gastrointestinal distress, especially constipation; and Niacin, which was not well tolerated because of itching, increased liver toxicity, and increased blood glucose levels. These drugs were also known to be ineffective - so Statins were treated as a welcome new ‘miracle’ drug by the drug companies.

Now, many millions of people take Statins throughout the world. They can cost about £150 per patient per year, and the NHS bill for statins approaches nearly £1 billion annually. What is worse, the UK was the first country to make Simvastin, the most used statin drug, available for sale ‘over the counter’, that is, a Statin drug that can be bought by people without the need for a doctor’s certificate.

Why have we got into this situation? For many years, our doctors have been telling us, unashamedly and unreservedly, that Statins were so safe, and so effective in treating heart disease, that everyone should be taking them! Indeed, we were all told this as recently as 2012. These articles, using almost identical language (no doubt the language of a Big Pharma press release), all appeared on 17th May 2012, each giving us the official message from the conventional medical establishment.
“....the NHS should impose a blanket policy of prescribing up to 20 million people statins at a potential cost of £240million a year. Currently, the only people considered at high risk, those with a one-in-five chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years, are given the cholesterol-lowering drugs. Half of men aged 50 or over and almost a third of women qualify for statin treatment. About five million people are thought to take them. National guidelines should be amended to lower the threshold for treatment to those with a one-in-10 risk over a decade, the experts said”.

Clearly, and quite typically, our mainstream media continues to be willing to pass on to us Big Pharma, and Conventional Medical Establishment propaganda about drugs and vaccines.

  • Statins are safe drugs, with only mild and acceptable ‘side-effects’ .

“Side effects of statins can include muscle aches, stomach disturbances, and altered liver function. Patients have also reported sleep and memory problems, depression and headaches.

  • Statins prevents heart disease.

“The risk of a heart attack or stroke is cut by a fifth in those who have no sign of heart disease, shows research by scientists at Oxford University”.

  • And Statins are so good we should all be taking them, even if are were perfectly healthy.

“The Oxford researchers says the NHS should consider giving statins to healthy people”. 

The Statins website confirms this simple message. Statins benefit everyone, we are told. Statins save thousands of lives (50,000 each year is mentioned). Treating people with Statins leads to huge savings, particularly in hospitalisation costs!

“.... the National Director for Heart Disease and Stroke said that a 'blanket approach' to give everyone above a certain age a daily dose of statins would save lives, NHS funding and doctors' time”.

The NHS appears to agree with this assessment, perhaps not too surprisingly as the NHS has become, over the decades, a monopoly, free-of-charge supplier of conventional medical drugs. This NHS Choices page is entitled “Statins may help even healthy over-50’s”, and it seems quite content to repeat this simple, positive message to its patients. However, it did at least admit that the study on which this message was based “did not include possible adverse effects” but it quickly returned to message, immediately adding that “Statins are safe drugs that have been associated with a small risk of side effects”. So that’s okay then!

This ongoing propaganda campaign about Statins has been going on for over 25 years now. They have achieved ‘super-drug status’, with claims that the drug can treat not only heart disease and stroke, but high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis, arthritis, and even erectile dysfunction. 

Yet there are two truths emerging rapidly from this long-term, blanket advertising of Statin drugs within the NHS, and the mainstream media.
  1. Cholesterol does not cause heart problems, and that lowering cholesterol levels has serious consequences to our health. (See for example these articles, (1)(2), (3), (4), (5), and many more.
  2. The ‘side effects of Statins are serious, causing both disease and death for patients.
In my book, the Failure of Conventional Medicine, I have written about the ages of drugs, from ‘wonder drug’ to ‘banned drug’, a journey every conventional medical drug has taken, or is currently undertaking (see also here), (and here).

It is becoming increasingly clear that conventional medical claims for Statin drugs are being overtaken by an increasing awareness of their inherent dangers. These dangers can be found elsewhere (see, for example, my blog "Statin Drugs. Why are they not banned?") where I outline the evidence that these drugs are known to be causing a number of serious disease-inducing-effects. These include:
  • cataracts
  • heart failure
  • pneumonia
  • nerve damage
  • muscle pain, muscle tissue breaking down
  • diabetes
  • prostate cancer
  • liver damage
  • kidney disease
  • memory loss (dementia?)
How many people suffer from these ‘side effects’? A Dutch survey of 4,738 Statin users were asked about side effects and found that just over a quarter (27%) said they suffered from them. Around 40% of these sufferers experienced muscle pain and almost a third (31%) had joint pain. It also reported that 16% had digestion problems and 13% had memory loss.

Other research shows patients who had definite or probable side effects from Statin drugs tended to be dismissed by their doctors, who denied any specific Statin-linked causality, and refused to appreciate the effect on their lives. This is not only unacceptable for individual patients, but unacceptable because serious adverse reactions are thereby not reported thus allowing the Conventional Medical Establishment to continue claiming that the drugs are safe!

And according to Malcolm Kendrick, in his book, ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’ (John Blake Publishing), there has been “no large trial of women statin users who already have cardiovascular disease has been shown to increase life expectancy by one day. More importantly, the use of statins in women at lower risk has not increased life expectancy nor prevented heart attacks and stroke”.

As Kendrick says, this raises the question whether women should be prescribed statins at all? His conclusion? They should not!

In addition to these ‘side-effects’, Statin drugs are also known to be dangerous for anyone with liver disease, pregnant and breastfeeding women. Alcohol and Statins also do not mix well!

Drug interactions are also now admitted to be a problem. There are known problems with Nicotinic Acid or Niacin; Bile Acid Sequestrants, Fibrates, Samdimmune or Neoral, Fluvoxamine, Anti-fungal drugs ending with “-azole”, Mycelex (miconazole), or Sporanox (itraconazole), Antibiotics ending in "-mycin", High blood pressure medications, Cordarone (Amiodarone), HIV Protease Inhibitors, Coumadin (warfarin), Prilosec (omeprazole), Tagamet (cimetidine), Zantac, Oral contraceptives, Lanoxin (digoxin), Antacids containing magnesium or aluminum hydroxide. 

Even St. John's Wort is said to decrease the effectiveness of some statins. With all this in mind, perhaps any patient might be better just taking St. John’s Wort!

Another little-known fact about Statin drugs is that at least 3 have had to be withdrawn either before, or after they were marketed. 
  • Mevastatin was never marketed because of its adverse effects of tumours, muscle deterioration, and sometimes death in laboratory dogs (Wikipedia). 
  • Compactin was also withdrawn from the market because of unwanted side effects. 
  • And the muscle damage caused by one Statin drug, Cerivastatin (Baycol) was sufficiently severe and widespread (it killed several hundred people) it had to be withdrawn (quietly) in 2001.
Yet the drugs that remain on the market seem to be no better! But patients are expected to believe that other Statin drugs are sufficiently safe, or well-tolerated, for everyone to take them, without any risk or harm to our health!

Now, some doctors are beginning to take Statin drugs into its ‘old age’, and so closer to death. For instance, Dr Malcolm Kendrick argues that the disadvantages of Statins now outweigh the possible benefits for the majority of people.

“I tell patients with a cholesterol level of between 5 and 7 they’re healthy. If it’s above 7, it’s probably due to a family history of high cholesterol and if any relatives have early heart disease then it’s worth taking a statin. The body needs cholesterol - 25% of it is in the brain and is vital for it to function properly. For patients who have suffered heart attack or stroke or have existing cardiovascular disease (disease of the heart and blood vessels) taking a statin can benefit them. But, the real question is by how much?

“Patients should ask doctors, “How much longer will I live if I take a statin?” The answer is, not very long. If you’re at high risk of heart disease or stroke and you take a statin for 30 years, you’re likely to live an extra nine months.

I suppose that means as long as they don’t die of kidney or liver failure - or prostate cancer - or pneumonia - or suffer from dementia before this!

Undoubtedly, patients who are taking Statin drugs need more honest information. They are unlikely to get it from the Conventional Medical Establishment, including from our own GPs, who appear to be reluctant to tell us. So we need to demand this information of them, preferably before Statins are banned, or we suffer the serious DIEs now known to result from them.