By Michael Furci
Providers prescribe statins to an ever-increasing market to lower the so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol because they are taught that higher cholesterol levels cause cardiovascular disease. Statins include drugs like atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor), and simvastatin (Zocor). The CDC reports that over 78 million people are eligible for cholesterol-lowering medication, but only 55% of this population is taking it. And, despite the large number of people currently taking statins, the CDC reports more Americans should be taking these dangerous drugs.
The following are the 2019 guideline recommendations for statin treatment by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA):
· For those <19 years of age with familial hypercholesterolemia, a statin is indicated.
· Adults ages 20-75 years and LDL cholesterol of 190 use high intensity statin w/o risk assessment.
· Type 2 diabetes and age 40-75 years. Use moderate intensity statin; consider high intensity.
· Adults ages 40-75 years and LDL cholesterol of 70 to 190 without diabetes.
· Adults 75 years and older with risk assessment.
The biggest issue with the above guidelines is that statins have not been proven to save lives. They do, however, reduce cholesterol, but that has not been shown to reduce mortality or morbidity. And as you’ll see in this first in a series of articles exposing the truth about this pharmaceutical cash cow, statins should not be prescribed to anyone.
When reading the following, the first bold heading is a brief overview of the study. Next is the study’s reference (author, title, journal information, and web address). Then, I try to present the findings in an easy-to-read and interesting manner.
Statins Reduce Cholesterol while Simultaneously Increasing the Risk of Serious Cardiovascular Events.
Crouse, J. R. (2007). Effect of Rosuvastatin on Progression of Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in Low-Risk Individuals with Subclinical Atherosclerosis: The METEOR Trial. JAMA,297(12), 1344–1353. doi:10.1001/jama.297.12.1344
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was designed to assess the effects of statins on low-risk individuals. The 984 subjects were middle-aged (mean age of 57) asymptomatic individuals with moderately elevated cholesterol (LDL from 120 -190) and a low risk of cardiovascular disease. The subjects took a 40mg daily dose of rosuvastatin or a placebo for two years.
· 34% reduction in total cholesterol in the statin group; no reduction in placebo group.
· 49% reduction in LDL cholesterol in the statin group; no reduction in placebo group.
· 16% reduction in triglycerides in the statin group; no reduction in the placebo group.
The above results, if you believe cholesterol causes cardiovascular disease (CVD), look very promising. However, because lowering cholesterol has nothing to do with improving CVD risk, the following results are not surprising.
· The statin group was greater than 4.2 times more likely to have a serious cardiac event. Six statin group participants received emergency treatment for eight serious cardiac events. Three experienced angina pectoris, three experienced acute coronary syndromes (umbrella term for unstable angina or heart attack) including one heart attack.
The researchers state, “Ischemic cardiovascular events were not specifically adjudicated in the METEOR study given the anticipated low frequency among the study population.” In other words, the researchers felt serious cardiac events weren’t important enough for a study looking at statin efficacy.
· Not one participant in the placebo group experienced emergent treatment for a serious cardiac event.
· The statin group had a 21 percent increased risk of death over the placebo group.
Researchers intentionally skew the results to make their products look more effective than they are.
Sever, P. S. et al. (2003). Prevention of coronary and stroke events with atorvastatin in hypertensive patients who have average or lower-than-average cholesterol concentrations, in the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial—Lipid Lowering Arm (ASCOT-LLA): a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Lancet, 361(9362), 1149-1158. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(03)12948-0
The ASCOT-LLA study included 10,305 participants. The primary endpoints or the specific outcomes to be measured were non-fatal heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease.
The participants were forty to seventy-nine years of age with a non-fasted total cholesterol of 251 or less but with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Among the group taking the statin, 1.9 percent had a heart attack or died from heart disease, compared to 3 percent in the placebo group. The researchers report these results as a 36 percent reduction in the primary endpoints. Like many pharmaceutical studies, they used a relative percentage, not an absolute percentage.
Interestingly, this trial had a five-year planned follow-up but was cut short after 3.3 years because the researchers were pleased with the results. They believed that the statin had proven its efficacy within that short time. However, there is statistical significance if one looks at the results for deaths from all causes. Hence, as with many other statin trials, statins do not lessen mortality. So why take them?
Simvastatin is correlated with higher death rates, higher cardiac death rates, and increased risk of cancer.
Teo, K. K. et al (200). Long-Term Effects of Cholesterol Lowering and Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibition on Coronary Atherosclerosis: The Simvastatin/Enalapril Coronary Atherosclerosis Trial (SCAT). Circulation,102(25), 1748–1754. Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/01.CIR.102.15.1748
One of the objectives of this four-year randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was to evaluate the effects of simvastatin in patients with normal cholesterol levels that have detectable plaque in at least three major artery segments. 230 study participants received simvastatin and 230 a placebo.
Compared to the placebo group, the simvastatin group had a:
· 225 percent increased risk of non-cardiac death.
· 76 percent increased risk of cardiac death.
· 78 percent increased risk of cancer
An increased risk of cardiac death and cancer.
Rossebo, A. B., et al (2008). Intensive Lipid Lowering with Simvastatin and Ezetimibe in Aortic Stenosis. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(13), 1343-1356. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0804602
This randomized, double-blind study involved 1873 participants with mild to moderate asymptomatic aortic stenosis. Aortic stenosis occurs when the heart's aortic valve narrows and doesn't fully open when the heart beats. The narrowing of the aortic valve reduces blood flow from your heart into the main artery that supplies the body. The participants received either 40 mg of simvastatin plus 10 mg of ezetimibe or a placebo daily with a mean follow-up of 52 months.
· Total cholesterol reduced by 61.3 percent in the simvastatin/ezetimibe group and was unchanged in the placebo group.
· LDL cholesterol reduced by 53.8 percent in the simvastatin/ezetimibe group and 3.8% in the placebo group.
Again, looks promising if you believe lowering cholesterol levels saves lives. And now the rest of the story.
· The simvastatin/ezetimibe group had a 21 percent increased risk of death from heart failure compared to the placebo group.
· The simvastatin/ezetimibe group had a 67 percent increased risk of death from cancer compared to the placebo group.
Type 2 diabetic patients increase their risk of death taking Atorvastatin.
Because of the common adverse effects T2D has on the body, e.g., high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, statins are highly encouraged by one’s doctor. But what does the research say?
Knopp, R. H. et al. (2006). Efficacy and Safety of Atorvastatin in the Prevention of Cardiovascular End Points in Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes: The Atorvastatin Study for Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease Endpoints in Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (ASPEN). Diabetes Care, 29(7), 1478–1485. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc05-2415
This four-year randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study investigated the potential cardiovascular benefit of 10 mg of atorvastatin in a cohort of individuals with type 2 diabetes, with and without a prior heart attack, and low LDL cholesterol levels. Two thousand four hundred ten participants received 10mg of atorvastatin or a placebo.
Compared to the placebo group, those who received atorvastatin had a:
· 91 percent increased risk of cancer.
· 197 percent increased risk of renal disorder. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure without taking a statin. Why take a drug that is going to increase that risk almost two-fold?
Researchers report, “An excess of CHD is reported among diabetic subjects even at the lowest LDL cholesterol levels observed in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, meaning that some CHD risk in diabetes may be due to glycemic injury beyond remediation with LDL cholesterol lowering.” They continued,” In summary, the primary endpoint in the ASPEN did not reach statistical significance.” In other words, the researchers admit their study failed to show any cardiovascular benefit for individuals with type two diabetes.
The above five studies do not even scratch the surface of the mound of evidence showing that statins are all risk with no benefit. Watch for more articles revealing the truth about statins.
Michael Furci is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center. To schedule a free consultation or make an appointment call (440)239-3438.