Latest posts by Jessica Peatross, MD (see all)
How Big Pharma Made Billions Off An Erroneous Study
The diet Fads of the 1970s and 1980s got it wrong. Low cholesterol and low fad diets were all the rage. Unfortunately, they replaced the needed good fats with sugar or chemicals. Diabetes and worsening heart disease are the end results. For years, dietary and medical recommendations have bern misguided. This may finally change, as limitations for cholesterol will likely be removed from the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Finally! Nearly 60 years’ worth of research has failed to demonstrate a correlation between high cholesterol and heart disease.
Not only does normal, natural cholesterol not cause heart disease, it is actually one of the most important elements in your body; indispensable for the cell building and for producing stress and sex hormones, as well as vitamin D.
Big pharma capitalized on the misnomer that cholesterol directly caused plaque formation inside arteries and that their drugs alone were the savers of heart disease. In fact, the world famous heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, “the father of modern cardiovascular surgery” according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) led an review of the cholesterol levels of 1700 athersclerotic surgical patients; the team found NO relationship between blood cholesterol levels and the incidence or extent of atherosclerosis. By the way, every year, Pfizer generates 12 billion dollars from Lipitor. Fortunately recently the cholesterol myth has been collapsing. From the ENHANCE trial in 2006, Vytorin was shown to cause more heart attacks (2 deaths too) and more serious side effects than those taking a non Statin and both groups actually ended up with more plaques in their arteries than before the trial! Atherosclerosis nearly doubled in the Vytorin group.
The five country study tracking easy and late coronary and other deaths in thousands of men aged 40-59 years in five European countries for 35 years concluded: “No significant relationship were found between serum cholesterol and stroke and all cause mortality, while intermediate findings were obtained for cardiovascular diseases.” 5. Menotti A et al, Short and long term association of a single serum cholesterol measurement in middle-aged men in prediction of fatal coronary and other cardiovascular events: a cross-cultural comparison through Europe.Eur J Epidemiol. 2005, 20(7): 597-604.
Abramson’s group found evidence that for all but the very highest-risk people, statins did not save lives and did not reduce the frequency of serious illness.
Thenational cholesterol education program is standardized on hospital electronic medical entry and forces doctors to prescribe statins. They aim for cholesterol lowering as a primary target of therapy, while actually claiming that trials have provided “conclusive evidence” that lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) reduces heart attacks and deaths. Meanwhile the American Dietary Association is promoting an inflammation inducing food pyramid that encourages an over abundance of carbs. The American Academy of Pedatrics has also now begun recommending statins for children as young as 8 years old if their cholesterol is very high!
In the October issue of the British Medical Journal, a group led by Dr. John Abramson, a teacher of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School, reanalyzed the largest-ever research report on the statin drugs. Abramson’s group found evidence that for all but the very highest-risk people, statins did not save lives and did not reduce the frequency of serious illness.
This was surprising not just because it challenged convention but because it contradicted the conclusions of the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists (CTT) collaboration, a group granted exclusive access to report on raw data compiled by the drug manufacturers (who still harbor most of the data). In their highly touted 2012 report the CTT group concluded that the pills could extend life for everyone who took them, including healthy people at low risk of heart problems. This finding was prominently cited by the American Heart Association in their recent guideline recommending statin use for patients at low risk.
Why do the Abramson and CTT groups disagree about the same data? When the CTT group, led by Dr. Rory Collins, an epidemiologist at Oxford, reported the numbers, they failed to separate people according to risk level. So when they reported that statins reduce deaths, they did so based on a calculation including both the highest- and lowest-risk participants. When the Abramson group examined death rates, they looked at the low-risk patients separately, and the mortality benefits disappeared; for these patients, taking statins was the same as taking a placebo.”-Brian Peskin chief research scientist for Cambridge International Institute of Medical Science. He is author of “The Hidden Story of Cancer”)
Professor Collins has also demanded the study be retracted from BMJ, stating it is worse than Dr Wakefield’s work on the MMR vaccine. He also noted that if patients were taken off their statins then millions would die. In February 2015, he admitted that his research team was reassessing the data for potential side effects they may have missed. In essence, backtracking. Keep in mind that his work put millions on a Statin. Lawsuits are currently pending claiming statins cause diabetes.
Keep in mind, one of the most influential trials promoting statins was led by Professor Collins, involving 30,000 patients from all over the world, received 96.1 million from statin manufacturer Merck Sharp & Dohme.
Professor Collins, who has led the largest trials in the world showing the benefits of statins, has also had funding from cholesterol-lowering drug manufacturers AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck and Sanofi in other studies.
We will see what comes of Statin guidelines and the original studies by Collins.
The positive side of this is that he medical community is whispering about the scandal. And, according to a recent report in the Washington Post, an insider claims the new stance on cholesterol will likely remain. As noted by medical journalist Larry Husten:
“The proposed change reflects a major shift in the scientific view of cholesterol that has taken place in recent years. Although serum cholesterol is still considered an important risk factor, cholesterol consumed in food is now thought to play a relatively insignificant role in determining blood levels of cholesterol.”
For natural options, try red yeast rice and fish oil. In fact, a study in 2008 showed a 42.4% decrease in overall cholesterol with this treatment and a 39.6% decrease in total cholesterol with the Statin, Zocor. For a more accurate pic of health, ask for a NMR lipoprofile test.
Concerning diet, eliminate no-fat and low-fat foods, and increase consumption of healthy fats. So much of the population suffers with insulin resistance & would benefit from consuming more of their calories from healthy saturated fats like avocados, grass fed organic milk, organic pastures eggs, coconuts, nut oils and raw nuts. No or low fat foods are often processed, high in sugar and can raise LDL cholesterol levels. Increasing omega 6 fatty acids is beneficial as we have over done it with omega 3’s. We naturally need more omega 6’s in our diet.
Avoid statins unless high risk for coronary artery disease or a genetic predisposition like familial hypercholesterolemia is present. Statins have over 200 adverse reactions or side effects including liver failure, weakness, muscle damage, rhabdomyolysis, brain fog, ALS, depression, cancer, cataracts, heart disease (which they are supposed to help prevent in theory), diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy.
Fortunately the medical community is waking up to the smell of big pharma.