Monday, October 15, 2012

More Cholesterol lies

Last month (August 6) in the West Australian newspaper they parroted an article from the age which suggested more people should be taking statins. Of course the Age just parroted the news brief from the drug company PR machine without asking who funded the study (drug companies of course). What they said was people with even a low level of heart attack risk of around 10% had a 15% reduction in the risk of heart attack. Sounds good doesnt it. What they did not tell you is that to get that 15% relative risk reduction or 0.1% absolute risk reduction, one person only, they had to treat around 1000 people with a drug that has serious side effects. That is why the studies are to tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. If the drug worked well, say 10% they would only need to treat 100 or 200 people.

Here is how they do it. On the statin treatment group 7 people out of 1000 have a heart attack over the period of 5 or more years. In the other control group 8 people out of 1000 have a heart attack. Using relative statistics we compare 7 to 8 and there is close to a 15 percent reduction. A bit confusing isn’t it. Using absolute statistics which is what we are all used to using it is a 0.1% reduction from 8 to 7. So we had to treat around 100 people to get a 1% real reduction or 0.1%.  That is a lot of drug for a very small benefit. Someone is making a lot of money

University of Sydney researchers had to review 27 studies to come up with enough people whose life may be saved.  Again 1 in 1000 who were treated. And someone forgot to tell the drug representatives how to do statistics that don't lie.

The media also just cherry-pick the scientific literature and never report the science that shows they just don’t work or the 75% of people who drop out of trial due to serious adverse side effects

They also forgot to mention that the benefits of statin drugs is only as a result that it acts like a nutrient. It is a molecule synthetically derived from red rice yeast which by the way has next to no negative side effects. Other types of drugs that lower cholesterol just as well as statins don't even have the 0.3% benefit. So it is not lowering cholesterol that has this very small benefit. Rather, statin drugs mimic some nutrient properties of red rice yeast (available at most health food stores until banned). But if that is the case we can use some safe nutrients to derive the same benefit as statins (one or two almonds a day) with no negative side effects and at a cost of a few cents a day. Not $6 billion a year in Australia.

There is a lot more information on this in my earlier blogs and even more in my book “The great cholesterol deception”

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