One in five Americans between the ages of 40 and 75 currently take a statin drug. The most recent American Heart Association guidelines would add millions to that number.
But statins save countless lives, right? Interestingly, there’s evidence statins may cut your risk of a second heart attack. But, beyond that, the benefits are pretty hazy.
CNN reports some studies show statins don’t lower your risk of death at all. CNN’s reporter also quotes the editor-in-chief of JAMA Internal Medicine – Rita F. Redberg, M.D. – as saying, “People have a very exaggerated idea of the benefits.”
According to a 2015 analysis published in the World Journal of Cardiology, cholesterol’s part in heart disease – if any – is still open to debate. And they compare statin drugs’ effectiveness to a Mediterranean-style diet.
A Mediterranean-style eating plan, they point out, has been proven to significantly cut your risk of heart disease within months. Regardless of your cholesterol status.
The article’s authors also point out that the drop in heart-related deaths in the U.S. may not be due to the use of statins at all. The rise in statin use dovetails with anti-smoking campaigns, an emphasis on a healthier lifestyle, and other factors that affect heart disease risk.
At the same time, the risks of statin drugs have been downplayed. Statins appear to raise your risk of diabetes, muscle weakness, and even death (in the case of those with heart failure).
Here’s what you need to know if your doctor tells you to lower your cholesterol.
Pills Are Not Your Only Option
If your cholesterol numbers are high, your doctor will probably recommend taking a statin drug. It’s such a routine practice almost nobody ever thinks to question it. High cholesterol equals a lifetime on statins.
But why do doctors routinely prescribe statins? Aren’t there any alternatives?
Yes, there are. In fact, there are natural alternatives that are just as effective… and far safer. But most doctors don’t seem to even bother mentioning them anymore. Why?
- First, because they’ve been trained to distrust natural alternatives. Big Pharma has a major influence on what’s taught in medical schools.
- Second, doctors are constantly bombarded with drug company propaganda. Big Pharma bankrolls much of your doctor’s continuing medical education.
- Third, drug companies ply doctors with plenty of gifts. From pens to free lunches to weekend seminars at golf resorts.
- Finally, drugs are easy. People find taking a daily pill much easier than dropping a few pounds… working out five days a week… or eating a healthy diet. So doctors often fall back on drugs, because they get the job done – sort of – with minimal fuss.
But non-drug options are better. If you lose weight, you’ll look and feel better. If you work out regularly, you’ll discover reserves of untapped energy.
And you’ll avoid the side effects of statins. Because they can be more than a little scary.
Lowering Cholesterol the Big Pharma Way Comes With a Price
Taking a pill may be easy, but is it wise? A 2013 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology seems to say, “Maybe not.”
In this study, Danish researchers found people taking a popular statin drug became glucose intolerant – a sign of impending diabetes. Their CoQ10 levels also dropped. CoQ10 is critical for producing energy at the cellular level. Such as the energy needed to maintain a healthy heartbeat.
New research from Japan reveals statin drugs also block a form of vitamin K you need to keep your arteries flexible. The Japanese scientists actually claim stains raise your risk for heart disease by promoting hardening of the arteries.
According to England’s Express newspaper, one expert presented the evidence this way…
“These drugs should never have been approved for use. The long-term effects are devastating.”
So, if your cholesterol is high, what should you do?
A Little More Effort… A Lot More Safety
Yes; taking a pill is easy. But if that pill only swaps one health risk for another – or for several others – it won’t do you much good.
Instead, talk to your doctor about options.
Losing weight generally lowers “bad” cholesterol levels. So does exercise. Supplements such as garlic and red yeast rice may help, too.
Consider following a Mediterranean-style diet. Folks from France to Greece – and beyond – are passionate about their food. A Mediterranean-style diet offers a lower risk of heart disease without sacrificing flavor or enjoyment.
In most cases, you can lower cholesterol without resorting to dangerous statin drugs. Considering the risks, that’s a big win.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
Nedelman, M., “Should you take statins? Guidelines offer different answers,” CNN. Jan 1, 2018.
DuBroff, R. and de Lorgeril, M., “Cholesterol confusion and statin controversy,” World J Cardiol. Jul 26, 2015; 7(7): 404–409.
Larsen, S., et al, “Simvastatin effects on skeletal muscle: relation to decreased mitochondrial function and glucose intolerance,” J Am Coll Cardiol. Jan 8, 2013; 61(1): 44-53.
Johnston, L., “Statins CAN cause heart disease – Shock research warns drug risks hardened arteries,” Express.co.uk. Jan 10, 2016.
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