Are We Over Using Statins?
My article discusses the possible mis-use of statins and provides alternatives to taking the medication.
What Is Cholesterol?
According to Wikipedia, cholesterol is a waxy sterol that is either manufactured in our livers, or absorbed in our intestines from the foods we eat. This critical sterol is responsible for many important functions in our body including making certain hormones, Vitamin D, and bile. It is also important in the role of protecting nerves and for the structure of cells.
Cholesterol is mostly made in the liver and is carried throughout our bodies by lipoproteins, or in layman`s terms, fat proteins. There are two types of these proteins, LDL (low density lipoproteins), which carry the cholesterol throughout our body, and HDL (high density lipoproteins) which carry the cholesterol back to our liver.
People`s cholesterol levels vary from person to person because our body chemistry is different from one another and also because we don`t all eat the same foods. It seems to me that health and nutrition science and studies change so frequently it`s hard to keep up with what`s fact and what`s just suspicion. For instance, for forty years or more the egg has gotten a bad rap in terms of raising cholesterol. Well, according to the USDA`s new nutrition data the egg is lower in cholesterol than previously recorded. They now say that a healthy person`s cholsterol level is not adversely affected by eating eggs, and eggs do not raise their risk of heart disease. An egg a day is perfectly ok for healthy individuals. In my opinion this is the reason we need to stay on top of research and not just keep pushing the same old information that has been flying around for over fifty years. Science has made many advances and has done much more research in the areas of health, food, and nutrition sciences so I think it`s crazy to accept the old information as absolute truth.
We have been conditioned to believe that having high cholesterol increases our chances of developing heart disease or having a heart attack, which is the number one killer of men and women in America today. Statins are a form of drug prescribed to lower our total cholesterol. Since most of the cholesterol running through our bloodstreams is produced by our own body, the drug tricks our body into thinking it has produced more than it has, therefor, it doesn`t produce more and our numbers go down.
The definition of a statin, according to Websters Dictionary, is a class of drug that reduces the level of lipids (fats) in the blood by altering the enzyme activity in the liver that produces lipids. Some common cholesterol lowering drugs are "Lipitor", "Lescol", "Mevacor", and "Zocor". There are more, but those are a few of the popular ones. "Baycol" was also a popular one but it was removed from the market in 2001 due to numerous deaths from a severe muscle disease which the drug was proven to cause. Other statins can cause muscle disease but this certain drug caused a much more severe form resulting in death. With the obesity rate climbing in America, so has the number of prescriptions for this class of drug. The recommendations from doctors to people being advised to take a drug to lower their total cholesterol has risen from thirteen million in 2001, to thirty six million today. That`s almost triple! This worries me. I feel that alot of these advisements are made pre-maturely. It is reported that seventy five percent of the people being advised to take statins are not even at risk of developing heart disease or have never even had a heart attack. They are not known to have any cardiovascular disease such as angina, nor have they had a stroke. I can`t understand why someone with no known risk of contracting heart disease benefits from taking a drug that can cause numerous adverse side effects. I also don`t understand why a doctor, whom I`m supposed to have trust and faith in for watching over my health and well being, would prescribe such a drug. There have been recent studies done to see what the benefits are of prescribing a statin to a person who is in a prevention category. By that I mean, a person who does not have cardiovascular disease and has not had any previous heart attacks or strokes. The findings were that the drugs reduced the risks of cardiovasculat events but did not reduce the number of deaths overall. It also was noted that for one event to be avoided, sixty seven people had to be on the drug for at least five years. The study also compared senior men and women and found that in women there was no reduced risk regardless of age, and this was true of men aged seventy and older. The analysis suggests then that the statins should not be prescribed for prevention in women of any age, or for men older than seventy. In my opinion, the doctors should let their high risk male patients within the ages of thirty to sixty nine in on the fact that about fifty patients need to be treated for at least five years to statistically prevent one episode. I think, that after hearing this, and looking over the long list of possible side effects associated with the drug, many people would refrain from taking the drug. There are other ways to manage your cholesterol and there are new ways of testing your cholesterol.
Alternatives To Statins
I belong to a group of people whose belief system is grounded in the idea that God doesn`t make mistakes. I believe that it`s up to us to take good care of our temples, and to fuel them and nurture them to the best of our ability. I believe that education is key. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the insurance companies or the drug companies have our best interest at heart. My husband has attended many pharmaceutical conventions and has heard the words that are spoken out of the top representatives. "Sell this many pills and you win a trip to Bermuda!" No joke. They don`t care about you, they care about a number. I believe it is me, me who has to read and learn; me who has to take my health matters into my own hands and be pro-active. Previously I mentioned new cholesterol testing. There is solid evidence that the ratio and the pattern of the molecules is more important than the numbers. You want big, fluffy particles instead of small dense ones where cholesterol is concerned. It is believed by many doctors that the reason the size is so important is because the big, fluffy particles can`t get stuck into arteries and form plaque like the small dense ones. There are many others but one widely used blood test called the NMR LipoProfile analyzes the size of the lipoprotein particle in the blood by measuring their magnetic properties. These are not routine cholesterol tests so you have to ask your doctor to perform it if you want to know the size and density of the cholesterol molecule.
Alternatives To Statins:Play And Play Hard
Exercise is a smart way to try and prevent cardiovascular troubles. The experts aren`t exactly sure why, but they definately know that exercise helps to lower cholesterol. One way it helps is that it removes fat. Being overweight has a tendency to increase the amount of LDL in your bloodstream and the low density lipoprotein is the one that`s been linked to heart disease. Lower the fat you`re carrying and lower the risk. Exercise has also been found to increase the size of the protein particles that carry cholesterol through your blood. Remember I said that you want the big, fluffy ones? In this instance folks, yes, size does matter. The amount of exercise needed is still up for debate. Most of the experts agree however, that at least thirty minutes per day of moderate to intense exercise is needed, but intense is better than moderate in terms of lowering cholesterol levels.
Alternatives To Statins
The Fuel We Burn
As I also stated earlier, diet and nutrition information seems to change almost daily and what is recommended one day is on the naughty list the next. In my life, moderation is key. Moderation and purity. Moderation as being once in awhile. I doubt having a nice, pink, grass-fed, juicy steak, (if you`re a meat eater) isn`t going to kill you, provided it isn`t every day. There are whole carniverous societies and when tested, their cholesterol is much lower and they don`t have the incidences of heart disease that we do. In my opinion, the same holds true for real butter. Note I said real. By purity I mean unprocessed, unboxed, unadulterated. Good, wholesome, food. Try and work alot of fruits and vegetables into your daily regime. Whole grains, fish oils, and garlic have had positive impacts on cholesterol among many other foods. Alcohol, believe it or not has had positive feedback; here`s where moderation comes into play again. It raises the HDL cholesterol and also may decrease blood clotting and insulin resistance. Fiber is a key player, and it`s found in all those whole fruits and vegetables you`re going to consume. Ditch the juice and opt for the whole fruit. The juice has no fiber in it while the food has tons. Nuts have gotten a very bad rap over the years because of the high fat content. Don`t listen! Eat your nuts! Again, moderation is key. Studies have found that those people who eat 5 ounces of nuts a week have a thirty five percent lower risk of developing heart disease than non-nut eaters. It`s partly because of the unsaturated fats among the other good attributes such as Vitamin E, argenine, and other various phyto nutrients. Eat your nuts! There are so many more health claims to eating a variety of whole foods, too numerous to list here, please do some homework and take your health into your own hands. Be proactive. Prevention is so much better than the alternative.