Today it was announced in the British press than millions more people, even at a low risk of cardiovascular disease will be advised to take the drug.
There is little scientific doubt that statins are effective in reducing heart attacks and deaths from heart disease in people who already have heart disease, however for the rest of the populations that data is quite unconvincing.
Studies have shown that while statins do reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and deaths from CVD in women, they do not reduce the risk of death from all causes (a�?total mortalitya�?). (1)
This means, that if you take Statins, you are more likely to die than someone who does not take them.
Statins do reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in people without pre-existing heart disease. However, this effect is more modest than most people assume. Dr. Newman also analyzed the effect of statins given to people with no known heart disease for 5 years (2):
98% saw no benefit at all
1.6% (1 in 60) were helped by preventing a heart attack
0.4% (1 in 268) were helped by preventing a stroke
1.5% (1 in 67) were harmed by developing diabetes
10% (1 in 10) were harmed by muscle damage
These results suggest that youa��d need to treat 60 people for 5 years to prevent a single heart attack, or 268 people for 5 years to prevent a single stroke. These somewhat unimpressive benefits must also be weighed against the downsides of therapy, such as side effects and cost. During that hypothetical 5 year period, 1 in 67 patients would have developed diabetes and 1 in 10 patients would have developed muscle damage.
Yes, Statins are well known for increasing the risk of Diabetes (3) and muscle damage (4).
In fact, Statins have never with anyone with any heart condition, any medical condition or otherwise, EVER been shown to extend the life of that individual unless they are over 80 years old with a pre existing heart condition. In a large meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials by Kausik Ray, MD and colleagues published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, statins were not associated with a significant reduction in the risk of death from all causes. (5)
A meta-analysis of statin trials in people without heart disease by the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration came to a similar conclusion. (6) They also observed that all but one of the clinical trials providing evidence on this issue were sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. This is significant because research clearly indicates that industry-sponsored trials are more likely than non-industry-sponsored trials to report favorable results for drugs because of biased reporting, biased interpretation, or both. (7) There is a shock piece of research!
We rarely see a balanced view on statins useage. The general public of which millions more will be put on this drug will only ever hear one side and not that statin use has been associated with a wide range of side effects, including myopathy (muscle pain), liver damage, cataracts, kidney failure, cognitive impairment, impotence and diabetes.
This does not take into account the fact that the Cholesterol test itself is a poor predictor for Cardiovascular Risk, a cholesterol particle size test is really what you should be asking for Doctor for.
In Summary, if you have heart problems and you are over 80 years old, then Statins seem to have a purpose if you can deal with the side effects of the drug. Beyond that, ask yourself in your head does this all make sense? Millions and Millions of people with different and individual biochemistry are all being advised to take the same drug. This advice is by well meaning people being instructed what to do, often by those with an interest in the pharmaceutical industry. There is no doubt, these latest recommendations will make some very rich people, even richer.
Take responsibility for your own health, it’s cheaper, less side effects and may even be fun.