"Our analysis suggests that lipid-lowering statins should not be prescribed for true primary prevention in women of any age." Who said that? Me? You might think so. But actually that quote comes from The Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals.
Yet, doctors keep prescribing these drugs for anyone - man or woman - who has elevated cholesterol - even if it?s only mildly elevated.
This is ridiculous! There?s no strong evidence that high cholesterol is even a risk factor for anyone over the age of 65! Yet doctors prescribe more statins than ever.
Why? Because they are getting biased information. A perfect example is a report published several years ago by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP). This report concludes that only statins can drop your LDL (bad cholesterol) to an acceptable level.
Yet eight out of nine of the policy-makers who wrote this report have ties to statin manufacturers. Let?s face it. How can you trust a report written by people who are obviously biased?
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Then there?s the gender issue. Statins don?t work well in women. That?s right!
It is true that statins reduce overall mortality in men, and lower their risk of dying of a heart attack. But not in women. In the NCEP guidelines, the authors mention studies that support using statins for the primary prevention of heart disease in women and people over the age of 65. But none of them support their conclusion with any strong evidence.
If you read the NCEP report carefully, you?ll see that 67 people need to take statins for five years to prevent just one single heart attack! In fact, statins didn?t prevent heart disease events in more than 10,000 women studied in these initial trials.
Plus, statins can be very dangerous. They can cause pancreatitis, damage the kidneys and muscles, and trigger peripheral neuropathy. If you haven?t heard about these side effects, it?s because no one is talking about them. But I don?t have any ties to the drug makers, so I?m free to tell you about them.
If you?re one of the millions of people who take statins, you probably don?t need to. If you do need to lower your cholesterol, try some of these better and safer solutions first. You?ll like the results.
There are plenty of other ways to lower LDL. I?ve talked about a host of them in past issues of Women?s Health Letter
. If you?d like more information, you can find all the details on my website, available at no charge to newsletter subscribers.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Abramson, J, and Wright, J, "Are lipid lowering (statins) guidelines evidence-based?" The Lancet, January 21, 2007.