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Bad news for statin drugs

June 29, 2010

The Archives of Internal Medicine just released a meta analysis of 11 randomized, controlled (the good science kind!) studies evaluating “Statins and All Cause Mortality in High Risk Primary Prevention”.  This included more than 65,000 people.  Any guesses as to what they discovered?  I quote: “This literature-based meta-analysis did not find evidence for the benefit of statin therapy on all-cause mortality in a high-risk primary prevention set-up.”  Wow.  Nearly $30 billion a year industry with this class of drugs alone, and it appears that it won’t extend one’s life.  I find this news significant  because this analysis dealt with people who were at high risk for heart disease; until now a foregone conclusion that statins benefit this particular population.

Why is this important to me, you might ask?  Well, a few reasons.  Firstly, the demonizing of cholesterol and attempts to lower it by using drugs which suppress vital functions in the human body is an important part of the lipid hypothesis.  This packages nicely together with calls to decrease fat content in the diet, ESPECIALLY saturated fat and cholesterol.   I mean, the best statin drugs not only lowered “bad” LDL, but didn’t lower or even raised “good” HDL.  The question is, does this merely mean that statins have some flaw which ought to be modified and thus newer, “better” cholesterol-lowering drugs need to be developed?….or might it mean that the hypothesis that saturated fat and subsequently cholesterol levels measured conventionally in the bloodstream really don’t matter all that much?  You might guess where I land on that one.

Also, I’ll be practicing soon as a nurse practitioner, and I want to be well informed and be honest with my patients about one of the most prevalent issues in healthcare these days.

It’ll be interesting to see where this leads (hopefully something more than re-canned “research has established that reducing saturated fat and cholesterol bla bla bla……so therefore….”)

Well, race report from my recent Ironman triathlon coming soon:)  Gotta rest and let the swelling in my legs/feet go down.

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