92 Deaths Linked to Cholesterol Lowering Statin Drugs
Updated: Jul 22
Experts are calling for a complete safety review of heart drugs taken by millions of Britons. More than 37 of the deaths were attributed to Zocor. Lipitor, made by Pfizer, was associated with 36 of the deaths. Three other leading statin brands — Novartis’s Lescol, BMS’s Lipostat and AstraZeneca’s Crestor — have been associated with 19 deaths. As well as the deaths there have also been reports of 7,000 side effects reported to the Department of Health by doctors, including kidney and liver damage and muscle weakness.
There are an estimated 4 million people taking the drugs, almost a third more than a year ago.
Cholesterol Confusion Among the Researchers
Anxiety about overuse of the drugs is coupled with a growing body of research suggesting the connection between cholesterol levels and health is more complex than previously thought.
A number of investigations have discovered that people with higher amounts of cholesterol live longer than those with lower levels.
Despite growing evidence that cholesterol is not the primary cause of heart disease, the pharmaceutical industry still is aggressively marketing statins.
The Death of a Tennis Player
An inquest is to take place into the death of Ivor Meacher, 71, a fit former tennis coach from Okehampton, Devon, who became ill and died within weeks of being prescribed a statin for an irregular heartbeat.
Research by his daughter, Jay Ballard, has produced what she says is irrefutable evidence that his death was caused by the drug atorvastatin, manufactured by Pfizer and marketed in Britain as Lipitor.
Eventually she contacted Andrew Herxheimer, emeritus fellow of the United Kingdom Cochrane Centre and co-founder of DIPEx (an electronic database of patients’ experiences) in Oxford. He has filed a yellow card on her behalf.
Herxheimer, however, has questioned the heavy promotion of the drugs. “We don’t know what other things statins do apart from reducing lipids in the liver,” he said.
The Most Severe Side Effect
The most severe adverse effect of statins is called rhabdomyolysis, where muscle is “dissolved” and the breakdown products block the kidneys, with fatal consequences.
The Food and Drug Administration, which licenses medications in America, has been forced to review the safety of one statin in particular: Crestor.
This came after David Graham, the FDA’s leading drug safety expert, turned whistleblower last autumn to raise concerns about levels of kidney damage.
Beatrice Golomb, a scientist at the University of California in San Diego, has been sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to investigate the effects of statins on mental function in 1,000 patients. It is understood she has recorded a number of problems ranging from memory lapses to changes in personality.
Last year a study of almost 150,000 people in Austria found that those with the lowest cholesterol were more likely to die of cancer.
Andrew Clark, a cardiologist at Castle Hill hospital in Hull, was the co-author of an international study of 417 heart failure patients that showed those with highest cholesterol levels actually lived longer.
The Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, which advises doctors on drug safety, is concerned about the marketing of statins and is planning a review of the sale of Zocor over the counter. “We are concerned there is no research data on the efficacy of the recommended dose, and there is also a potentially lethal effect if you drink grapefruit juice while taking it,” said its editor, Ike Iheanacho. Another statin drug called Lipobay was withdrawn in 2001 after unacceptably high death rates among patients.
Mark Harvey, a solicitor who represented more than 50 British patients who claimed they had suffered adverse effects from taking it, said last week: “There is an increasing crisis of confidence in public authorities. They keep telling us they are looking after us, but we keep having drugs taken off the market after too many people have been damaged by them.”
Cholesterol is important
Cholesterol is produced by the liver and also made by most cells in the body. It is carried around in the blood by little ‘couriers’ called lipoproteins.
We need a small amount of blood cholesterol because the body uses it to:
build the structure of cell membranes
make hormones like oestrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones
help your metabolism work efficiently, for example, cholesterol is essential for your body to produce vitamin D
produce bile acids, which help the body digest fat and absorb important nutrients.
The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease
Coauthors Stephen Sinatra, MD, and Jonny Bowden, PhD, have concluded that the traditional protocol of low-fat diets and statin drugs do not inhibit cardiovascular disease. As they reveal in their new book, The Great Cholesterol Myth, the real culprits behind heart disease are sugar, inflammation, stress, and high-carbohydrate diets.
The book references a report in the New England Journal of Medicine about the Nurses’ Health study involving 120,000 women since the 1970s. Their findings support your research. authors of that study wrote: “Eighty-two percent of coronary events in the study…could be attributed to lack of adherence to (these five factors).” One, don’t smoke. Two, drink alcohol in moderation. Three, engage in moderate-to-vigorous exercise for at least half an hour a day on average. Four, maintain a healthy weight (BMI under 25). Five, eat a wholesome, low-glycemic (low-sugar) diet with plenty of omega-3 fats and fiber. Where’s the part about lowering cholesterol? It’s not there.
Sugar is a far greater danger to your heart than fat ever was. Sugar is directly responsible for one of the most damaging processes in the body, something called glycation. Glycation is what happens when sticky sugar molecules glom onto structures where they don’t belong, essentially gumming up the works. What does this have to do with cholesterol and heart disease?
In the book they discuss one primary way in which LDL cholesterol gets damaged – through oxidative stress generated by free radicals. Can you guess the other way it gets damaged? Glycation. Sugar is at the scene of several crimes, all related to heart disease. A 1992 study examined the blood work of healthy centenarians in an effort to find out whether there were any commonalities among the members of this unusually long-lived demographic. It found three: low triglycerides, high HDL cholesterol, and – wait for it – low fasting insulin. Your diet affects two of these blood measures – triglycerides and fasting insulin – and both meaures will fall like a rock when you reduce or eliminate sugar and processed carbs in your diet.
What are some supplements that you feel can have a heart-protecting effect?
CoQ10 is a kind of “energy fuel” for the heart. Magnesium relaxes the artery walls, reduces blood pressure, and makes it easier for the heart to pump blood and for the blood to flow freely. Niacin will lower both triglycerides and the “bad” kind of LDL cholesterol. Other supplements worth considering include vitamin C, curcumin, resveratrol, and cocoa flavanols. D-ribose is one of the components of the energy molecule ATP, which the body uses to power all activity.
To order The Great Cholesterol Myth
For a sattrical look at statins watch the video(Start at 2:12):http://http://on.cc.com/vHr1KU