Over-50s, Prof (Sir) Rory Collins, the assumed lead UK (and international?) authority on statin drugs has an important message that he thinks could save your life! Here’s his key message: If you were worried about the side effects of statins, Prof Collins and a gaggle of 27 other doctors and scientists from high profile institutions around the world, want you breathe deeply and stop worrying. They reckon that everyone’s got terribly confused by the science around statins and that after a more careful look at the evidence (especially that related to studies by him and his 27 colleagues), you’ll be convinced — just like he is —  that 15 out of every 100 people taking statins avoid heart attacks or strokes. All of this for the financial outlay of less than the price of a cappuccino a week.

News headlines around the world last week proclaimed that statin therapy benefits had been under-estimated and the risks exaggerated. Behind the news is a review published in the Lancet journal by a consortium of international doctors and scientists led by none other than Prof Collins, head of the Cholesterol Treatment Triallist’s (CTT) Collaboration.  The review appears perfectly timed to deal with two things that interfere with the ‘statin therapy prophylaxis’ program that mainstream cardiovascular medicine interests appear set on delivering:

  1. Increased awareness – and likely experience of – statin-related side effects, and;
  2. The increasingly insecure scientific foundations of statin therapy, including the much debated ‘lipid hypothesis’ (increasingly and more appropriately also referred to as ‘the cholesterol myth’), that suggests that lowering cholesterol, especially LDL-cholesterol, levels reduces the risk of major cardiovascular events linked to atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

Collins and his 27 other authors hail from hallowed institutions, including Oxford University, Johns Hopkins, Cambridge University, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Bristol University, Barts & Queen Mary’s, Imperial College London,  University of Sydney, Harvard…….you get the idea? These are heavyweight institutions, about that there is no doubt. But how heavyweight is the science they deliver?

No scientific consensus on the cholesterol theory and statins

This review is more of a position statement by a group of scientists and doctors who are committed to the notion that lowering LDL-cholesterol using statins is the best way of reducing heart attacks and strokes, the key killers in most Western societies.  To justify their argument, the reviewers largely reiterate findings, albeit sometimes in novel ways, taken from meta-analyses by the CTT Collaboration from previous years, including ones published in 2015, 2012 and 2010. The currency of these publications gives the impression the data informing the findings are equally recent. This just isn’t the case, with much of the data originating from much earlier randomised controlled trials (RCTs). More than this, Dr Michel de Lorgeril, a leading statin detractor from Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France,  argues persuasively that the pre-2006 RCTs are less reliable because of looser regulations governing them.

Watch below the Cholesterol Drug War, a report for the popular news show, The Catalyst, presented by Dr MaryAnne Demasi that was pulled from the ABC website after fears expressed by Australian authorities that people watching the report might stop taking statins.


Collins et al appear set on trying their best to give the impression that their views represent a scientific consensus. There have been concerted efforts to silence statin skeptics, especially if they are doctors or scientists. Dr Abramson’s claim that 18-20% of patients experience adverse effects of statins was subsequently retracted by the British Medical Journal’s editor in 2014.  This is simply not the case. In an editorial for the Cochrane Collaboration, the director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the Department of Primary Health Care at University of Oxford (from which Collins also hails) was outspoken about the quality of evidence and emphasised the differences in findings in Cochrane and CTT reviews. Then there’s CTT’s secret data, exposed by Dr Zoe Harcombe and another statin skeptic, journalist Jerome Burne.

Travesties in the name of (bad) science

The biggest travesties in Collins’ latest PR effort are three-fold. Firstly there’s the bald promotion of statins under the misleading guise that this represents scientific consensus, when in fact statin promotion is a strategy that is set to financially benefit 23 of the 28 authors who declared conflicts of interest. Secondly there’s the dismissal of the side effect issue (explained in some detail in the above video), including no mention of two thousand plus lawsuits in the US alone, that have been brought against the pharmaceutical companies by those suffering, sometimes very serious, side effects. While Collins and colleagues accept that around one in every hundred of those prescribed statins might suffer myopathy (muscle pain and weakness), diabetes or haemorrhagic strokes, they ignore an abundance of clinical evidence suggesting that statin-related myopathy is under-reported and consistently occurs at a significantly lower incidence in RCTs than it does in the real world.

The third travesty is the complete lack of consideration of other evidence-based approaches that have been demonstrated to lower cardiovascular risks and associated morbidity and mortality. Is it so outlandish to consider dietary and lifestyle modification as a side-effect free alternative to statin therapy?

Carl Heneghan, who breathes evidence-based medicine for a living, ended his 2011 editorial saying:

Given the current limitations of the evidence-base, the alternative approach for policy is to focus on population-wide prevention. Widely publicised by Geoffrey Rose, legislating for smoke-free public spaces, re-designing public spaces to improve exercise or reducing daily dietary salt intake prove generally effective and can be cost-saving interventions. Given the scale of the worldwide CVD problem, large-scale commissioned studies of multiple risk factor interventions are urgently required.”

De Lorgeril, who continues to shine a light on the cholesterol controversy and the (lack of) safety of statins, reflects on the evidence-base around the Mediterranean diet.

Having last week reviewed what appeared to be a propaganda piece for HPV vaccines by a series of authors with declared conflicts of interest, most linking back to Merck, it is interesting to see yet another apparent piece of propaganda, this one on statins. Could the common thread actually be Merck, given that this pharmaceutical giant is a key beneficiary of any publicity that furthers the roll out of both statins and HPV vaccines?

Comments

  1. If you take statins medication your body is robbed of CoQ10 enzyme. Some of the aches and other unpleasant side effects are reduced if you take a CoQ10 supplement.
    BUT ………better to modify diet and habits to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and eat the ‘good’ fats found in good foodstuffs (like avocado). Do your own homework. Doctors are mechanics – not magicians!

  2. I feel you could put key phrases in BOLD or even set your own stall out in summary and then backed it up in the detail.
    Established ‘authorities’ can and do lie as a result of the ‘conspiracy’ of intent to protect a greater lie from exposure upon which the power, status, and privilege depend. Many involved may not be aware of the nature of the lie but they are aware of self-interest that in their mind can be equated with serving and protecting the common good.

    The ‘wanting to believe’ in magic solutions to a breakdown of communication resulting in assertive identity in false association is the invitation to be robbed of Reason by lies pretending to be reasonable, which then protect us against Sanity – at ever greater cost to Life…

  3. “And on and on….but Pfizer and Astra make billions from our sheeple programming.
    I was lucky, I soon put 2+2 together when I couldn’t raise my arms and had to crawl because my hips wouldn’t work and my short term memory became embarrassing.
    I stopped them & recovered immediately.
    A friend was diagnosed with TOTAL LIVER FAILURE because of Statins, which the doctors admitted, and fortunately recovered when he stopped taking them.
    Finally, another close friend enduring treatment for arhythmia was prescribed Statins, and after 6 months became Type 2 Diabetic, which the nurse advised was their fault because it is a known side effect of Statins.
    Now we learn Cholesterol is a major player converting sunlight into Vitamin D and also a key cancer fighter.
    There is a plan against us all. You look in the sky & see deliberate sunlight deprivation via artificial clouding, they tell us sunlight is bad for us and to coat our kids with chemical sunscreen and eat genetically modified foods, coated in poisonous herbicide.
    We’re on our own and must learn how to look after ourselves outside the system.
    The only answer is to eat raw, organic & healthy vegetables & fruit & “f**k ’em.”

  4. A new ground-breaking book is due to be launched later in September entitled
    Fat and Cholesterol Don’t Cause Heart Attacks. And Statins Are Not The Solution – A Tribute to Uffe Ravnskov MD PhD and THINCS – The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics – http://www.thincs.org, Paul J Rosch MD FACP, Editor. The book, which is comprehensively illustrated with Data / Figures and extensively referenced to the published scientific literature. In the Editorial for PH Online Issue 233 published 15 September I’ve exerpted some of the more memorable quotes and the list of chapters. Not to be missed.
    http://www.positivehealth.com/article/editorial/editorial-issue-233

  5. What drove it home for me is when my mother ended up in the hospital debilitated, muscle problems, etc. Immediately I was suspicious since my mom ate organic, took supplements, exercised, etc.. I asked her if her doctor had her on any medications, she said Lipitor. I printed out all the side effects, which matched her symptoms, and had her read them. She stopped the Lipitor and the problems disappeared. And let me tell you, her doctor got an ear full from her when she got out of the hospital. Needless to say she threw the lipitor away and never took it again, and her symptoms never returned. All that just to bring down cholesterol a few points. Now she understands the Big Pharma money game, plus the fact that our bodies need cholesterol to be healthy. Plus, she found another doctor that is more alternative in their approach to treatment of a problem.

    1. Before thyroid testing came to pass in the early 70’s – anyone with raised cholesterol had their thyroids treated ! Sadly Thyroid conditions are mostly missed due to the poor and inadequate testing and the lack of understanding of blood test results. Mostly Docs only test the TSH – when it is the FT4 and FT3 that are important. Low T3 is so common even with the TSH and FT4 are in range. Being in range is not adequate – it is where you are in the range that counts. No money to be made from prescribing thyroid pills – but lots to be made from the myriad of symptoms that happen when the T4 and T3 are low. Statins – blood pressure pills – AD’s – pain medications – PPI’s and so on.

      Taking control of our health is key if we are to be well ……

  6. No mention in any of the studies of the fact that statins are leading to an epidemic of Alzheimers. The brain needs cholesterol!
    And as for COQ10 – people seem to forge the heart is a muscle and needs this to function.
    So how dangerous are statins really in the long term? Only time will tell. But it is not too fanciful to think this might be the next big medical or rather drug industry travesty about to happen

  7. No mention in any of the studies of the fact that statins are leading to an epidemic of Alzheimers. The brain needs cholesterol!
    And as for COQ10 – people seem to forge the heart is a muscle and needs this to function.
    So how dangerous are statins really in the long term? Only time will tell. But it is not too fanciful to think this might be the next big medical or rather drug industry travesty about to happen

  8. chris w “but it is not too fanciful to think this might be the next big medical or rather drug industry travesty about to happen” it IS HAPPENING and this travesty ois not the only medical travesty happening for a very long time, with medicines “evidence based” approach and lack of even knowing what the Bodys Signs and Symptoms are saying, and the almost total reliance on Blood and other tests. Let alone the Medical world lack of knowledge in general in so many areas of Medicine and their reliance on Big Pharma Meds as the solution!

    Medicine is very, very sick and has been for a long time now. It is a money making propagating business, and I feel for those Doctors who had hoped to be Healers and preventers of diseases! I keep hoping that as a body of medical people they find the courage to join together and actively change the course of these CRIMES against themselves and fellow human beings.

  9. The House of Commons Select Committee Report in the Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry foretold this in 2005. The exaggeration of benefits, the under-reporting of side effects, big Pharma ghost writing reports to enhance their claims and paying academics to put their name to them and, incidentally the specific move to blanket bomb the public with cholesterol lowering lowering drugs having medicalized the natural human condition. All this is in the HoC library, under its own authorship!

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