Sunday, August 10, 2008

Should I be Taking a Statin Drug to Lower my Cholesterol?

About 2 years ago, a panel of 11 cardiologists met (as reported in USA Today) to lower the recommended level of LDL cholesterol from 130 to 100. Obviously, the pharmaceutical industry was ecstatic with these new recommendations. However, it should not have come as a surprise to them, since 10 of the 11 cardiologists were on the payroll of one of the pharmaceutical companies. The problem with this recommendation is that nearly 98% of the population in the US and Canada has an LDL cholesterol level greater than 100. These recommendations would mean that nearly the entire population should take statin drugs. The New York Times reported that maybe statin drugs should be placed in our drinking water.

Several clinical trials show that individuals who are at risk of developing heart disease can decrease this risk by taking statin drugs. The problem is that researchers are not really sure if it is the lowering of cholesterol that lowers the risk or if it is the anti-inflammatory properties of the statin drugs. I believe that it is probably a combination of both of these effects. If you lower LDL cholesterol, there is just less that is available to become oxidized. Just like aspirin has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease due to its anti-inflammatory qualities (it all starts to make sense doesn’t it), the statin drugs do the same. However, I have always believed that we should use drugs as a last resort and not a first choice. Statin drugs are truly over prescribed.

Source: Dr. Strand Health Nuggets (