Instead of giving my personal views on statins, let’s quickly review some of the studies done on these drugs and allow you to form your own educated opinion. If it is true that statin drugs such as Lipitor, Crestor, Mevacor, Pravacol and Zocor lower your risk for heart disease, then you would expect that studies would show that having lowered cholesterol will result in a longer lifespan.
The Journal of the American Medical Association reported on a study of 5,170 subjects taking the drug Pravacol, versus 5,185 subjects treated with “usual care” (changes in lifestyle). The study lasted four years and revealed that Pravacol reduced cholesterol levels in the subjects by 17 percent, as opposed to only 8 percent in the “usual care” group. The all-cause mortality findings, which measures the number of people who died from any cause during the study, was nearly equal between the two groups. The coronary heart disease rates were also no different.
The Framingham Study is one of the longest ongoing research projects studying heart disease. In 1987, researchers reported that after 30 years of follow up, there is no increased overall mortality with subjects over 50 with high cholesterol. Furthermore, researchers reported that falling cholesterol levels were found to increase the cardiovascular death rate – a 14 percent increase for every one milligram/ deciliter drop in cholesterol levels.
A study of 11,563 subjects found that those with cholesterol levels below 160 mg/dl had a 49 percent increase in “all cause” mortality, as compared to those subjects with cholesterol levels over 160 mg/dl. Non-cardiac deaths increased by 2.27 times in the low cholesterol group as compared to the control group. Other studies have also found a correlation with low cholesterol levels and increased risk for mortality from cancer of the lung, liver, pancreas and bone marrow as well as increased risk of death from respiratory, liver and digestive diseases.
Another study of 5,491 men aged 45 to 68 found that falling cholesterol levels from 180-239 down to less than 180 were associated with a 30 percent higher risk of all cause mortality and a significantly increased risk of death from cancers of the esophagus, prostate, and bone marrow.
Finally, in 997 patients older than 70 who were studied, researchers found no correlation between elevated cholesterol levels and increases in mortality from coronary heart disease, all cause mortality, or hospitalization from heart attacks or angina.
I’m not telling you not to take these drugs, because I’m not your doctor. But you should make your own educated decision based upon the research and not upon misinformation provided by the drug companies and the doctors prescribing them.
Dr. Frank Aieta is a board-certified and licensed Naturopathic Physician with a private practice in West Hartford, Conn. He specializes in the treatment of disease, using natural therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, spinal manipulation, clinical nutrition, herbal medicine and natural hormone balancing. For more information please visit www.draieta.com.