March 22, 2009
The government is busy spending your money as fast as they can print it, and it seems no one's looking very closely at how those dollars are being used.
Take the latest study on statins, those ever-popular drugs used to control cholesterol
levels. The National Cancer Institute recently used your hard-earned money to figure out whether or not drugs like Lipitor and Mevacor can prevent cancer.
The conclusion: Of course not.
This study on mice and rats, published in Cancer Prevention Research, merely confirms what just about all the evidence until now has suggested: Even at ridiculously high doses, statins are about as effective as marbles when it comes to cancer prevention. They started out with twice what a human would take, and then went to even higher doses from there. But no matter how much they pumped into these critters, they came up empty.
And remember, even normal doses of statins come with the potential for nasty side
effects like muscle pain, liver damage, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and rashes.
A major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association three years back looked at 86,000 patients in 26 clinical trials of statins and concluded that there was no evidence statins could fight cancer.
That should have been good enough, except those researchers left the door open a crack, saying they also had no evidence that statins couldn't fight cancer, either.
How's that for conclusive?
Next came a study showing that men on statins had lower blood levels of prostate-
specific antigen, or PSA, a biomarker for cancer risk. Never mind that everyone – and I mean everyone – in medicine knows that PSA tests are less than perfect predictors of cancer.
The National Cancer Institute should have looked at their own data on that, which warns of high levels of false positives, not to mention false negatives. In fact, they say "PSA levels alone do not give doctors enough information to distinguish between benign
prostate conditions and cancer."
That's them talking, not me. Yet they used the PSA data as a basis for launching this study.
Do you want a refund yet? I know I do.
Here's the cherry on top: The researchers from the National Cancer Institute even tried pairing statins with the anti-cancer drugs tamoxifen and bexarotene, and they still didn't help, not one bit.
Anyone who wants to reduce their cancer risk can make some simple changes to their diet and lifestyle and get a far greater benefit than any drug can provide.
Statins are one of Big Pharma's biggest cash cows. Millions of Americans already take them and feel like they need them, even when the reality is that in most cases they don't. But that's not enough for the corporate giants. They have been pumping millions of dollars into statins, shamelessly trying to find new reasons for even more people to use these drugs.
They certainly don't need the government's help in this goal.
Sometimes, I think they won't be happy until every man, woman and child is taking a
Then they could sell us another drug to deal with all those side effects.
William B. Ferril, M.D.
UPDATE on Statin, March 31, 2009
March 29, 2009
What's next – statins in the womb?
You know by now how much I question the overuse of statins.
Those cholesterol-lowering drugs are often the most pointless, and most profitable, in Big Pharma's arsenal. But that alone isn't enough: The drug companies are always looking for new ways to market statins, and new groups that can take them.
And now there's talk of giving these drugs to children.
I won't even try to hide my disgust here. Imagine little Johnny popping Crestor at his
school lunch, washing it down with a sip of his juice box. Outrageous!
It all started last year when the American Academy of Pediatrics sounded the alarm on cholesterol levels and children, issuing new guidelines and asking doctors to consider drugs for kids as young as 8 years old who can't keep their LDL (bad cholesterol) levels within bounds.
The Academy's new guidelines prompted a study on just how many kids might end up on these drugs, and the results were published online in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.
They found that just under 1 percent of kids might need medications to help manage their cholesterol levels.
This may sound like a reassuringly low number, and in a way it is, but remember – the percentage of people who truly "need" a drug is almost always far lower than those who actually get the drug in the end.
In fact, that's been the whole history of statins. They were originally designed to help
people with heart conditions to lower their cholesterol. But a study out of Harvard and
published in the Lancet found that just 8 percent of the millions of Americans who take statins actually have a heart condition.
Talk about over-prescribed!
Now they want to start pushing these drugs on our kids and grandkids. Big Pharma wants statins to become the new Ritalin… a chronically over-prescribed designer drug for kids.
That might be great for their bottom lines, but I can promise you it'll unleash nothing but trouble for our kids.
Lowering LDL cholesterol levels in kids – and yourself for that matter – starts with diet.
Make better choices, like cutting out processed junk foods and too many sugar-laden
carbs, and you will naturally lower your cholesterol levels. Not only that, but you'll live
better too. There's no catch, nothing extra to buy, and no pills to take.
Big Pharma may not like it – but it works.
William B. Ferril, M.D.