Since 1988, mainstream medicine has adjusted the guidelines for cholesterol over and over. Each time, they don’t get the results they want. So they adjust again… and again. 1988… 1993… 2001… 2004… 2013… Each guideline falls short of the goal. So they try again.
As the old saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. It’s a psychosis: A mental disorder so severe, the link with reality is severed.
And that’s exactly what seems to be happening with cholesterol. And with Big Pharma’s #1 cholesterol fighter, statin drugs.
Statin Use… For Health or Money
Each time mainstream medicine has set cholesterol limits, statin use has expanded. Previous efforts to lower cholesterol were successful. But they lowered cholesterol levels more than heart disease.
Obviously, the thinking went, we haven’t lowered guidelines enough. So they’d lower the numbers again… and expand the number of people who “need” statins.
The 2001 cholesterol guidelines tripled the number who “should” be taking statins – from 13 million to 36 million. And 65 million Americans – a third of the adult population – suddenly needed to make lifestyle changes to meet the guidelines.
Surely, tripling the number of people taking statins would solve the cholesterol problem. This broad expansion would certainly erase heart disease.
Except it didn’t.
In fact, a study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, found pretty much the opposite. It found statins were overused in 69% of those on a primary prevention plan.
Because statin use is typically a life sentence, this is bad news for patients. But it’s great news for Big Pharma, which is making money hand-over-fist.
And here’s where it gets interesting. Or, more accurately, scary…
Doubling Down on Stupidity – at Your Expense
Remember how I mentioned the definition of insanity? In 2009, we saw an incredible example of this idea in action.
A large study looked at 135,905 patients in 541 hospitals across the country. That’s almost 136,000 patients admitted for heart attacks.
The study found one little problem. Three-quarters of these heart attack patients had healthy levels of “bad” cholesterol. And nearly half of them had ideal cholesterol levels.
That’s right. Almost half the patients admitted for heart attacks had LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels ranked as “ideal.” Another quarter had healthy levels.
In other words, cholesterol appeared to be a risk factor in only 25% of these heart attacks.
Now, logic would question whether LDL levels were linked to heart attacks. But that’s not what the “experts” decided. They decided this proved we hadn’t set cholesterol levels low enough.
But, as I’ve written to you many times, cholesterol is necessary for life. For example, cholesterol is a key element of your cell walls. You can only lower levels of LDL levels so far before you risk damage.
Besides, statins cause problems of their own.
- Fatigue, muscle soreness, and breakdown of muscles
- Raised levels of liver enzymes and liver damage
- Rashes, flushing
- Memory loss
- Digestive problems
- High blood sugar and Type II diabetes
Ironically, Type II diabetes is a risk factor for heart attack. So the solution could actually increase your risk of the problem!
Cholesterol Control: Insanity Reigns
The mainstream finally abandoned cholesterol numbers in 2013. But new guidelines opened up millions more adults to “needing” statins.
Instead of focusing on lowering cholesterol to specific numbers, the 2013 guidelines focused on general risk factors.
Now, keep in mind that statins are designed to lower cholesterol… not to treat other factors involved in heart disease risk. But the new guidelines still focused on prescribing statins, even though they were no longer looking at cholesterol levels as a primary outcome!
If this sounds a little crazy, don’t worry. It’s not you.
According to a report from the American College of Cardiology, the new guidelines called for statin use based not on “a specific dose of statins.” Instead patients should be given the drugs “regardless of how the medication impacts their cholesterol levels.”
Specific cholesterol targets were dumped. Good enough became good enough. If you were close, there was no point in trying to reach specific targets, the new argument went. That would take other drugs with no proven benefit.
The targets the mainstream had been chasing since 1988 were dropped, seemingly without a second thought.
The new approach meant millions more “should” be taking statins. Anyone with a 7.5% risk of developing atherosclerotic disease – clogged arteries – within 10 years was a prospect for statin drugs.
One writer, facing the “need” to start statins, questioned the guidelines. He found studies show high blood pressure as the biggest risk factor for heart attack… and the famous Framingham Heart Study found dietary cholesterol has almost no effect on cholesterol levels.
The Mainstream Ups the Ante… Again
Apparently, Big Pharma isn’t happy with the millions already taking statin drugs – in spite of their health risks. Because we have a new set of guidelines. Guidelines even crazier than before.
Now the mainstream wants everyone from age 40 evaluated for statin use. Yes everyone!
The chairman of the newest task force claimed, “People with no signs, symptoms, or history of cardiovascular disease can still be at risk for having a heart attack or stroke.”
Which sounds suspiciously like, “Give everyone these drugs… just in case.”
In other words, 100% of the population over 40 is now a candidate for these drugs. Drugs which not only put your health at risk… They can kill you.
Should You Take Statins?
Lowering cholesterol didn’t work. So, after two decades, the mainstream changed the ground rules. Now everyone – even if they have normal blood pressure, healthy cholesterol, and no signs of heart problems – should be considered for statin use?
Statins may help some people control high cholesterol… but so do many natural options. And cholesterol’s link to heart risk is sketchy at best. As the 2009 study showed, cutting cholesterol doesn’t necessarily lead to cutting heart attack risk.
Chances are, your doctor only hears the mainstream story. So don’t be afraid to bring up questions. The best studies seem to indicate blood pressure is a far more important factor than cholesterol.
Regular exercise and losing weight can usually lower blood pressure. Changes to your diet can lower blood fat levels without drugs. And all the side effects of these natural actions are positive.
Do you need statins? Probably not. Can you lower your cholesterol without them? Almost certainly. Before you accept a life sentence to these dangerous drugs, explore your options. Chances are you can achieve heart health without making Big Pharma any richer.
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.
Paxton, A., “One year later, cholesterol guidelines sinking in,” CAP Today. Jul 2002.
Abookire, S.A., et al, “Use and Monitoring of “Statin” Lipid-Lowering Drugs Compared With Guidelines,” Arch Intern Med. 2001; 161: 53-58.
Champeau, R., “Most heart attack patients’ cholesterol levels did not indicate cardiac risk,” UCLA Newsroom. Jan 12, 2009.
Dennis, B. and Bernstein, L., “New guidelines could have far more Americans taking statin drugs for cholesterol,” The Washington Post. Nov 12, 2013.
“Changes in Statin-Use Based on New Guidelines,” American College of Cardiology. Aug 18, 2014.
O’Riordan, M., “New Cholesterol Guidelines Abandon LDL Targets,” Nov 14, 2013.
Petranek, S., “Huge New Change in Cholesterol Guidelines — Do You Need Statins Anymore?” The Daily Reckoning. Feb 2, 2015.
Cha, A.E., “New statin guidelines: Everyone 40 and older should be considered for the drug therapy,” The Washington Post. Nov 13, 2016.
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