High cholesterol is hardly a main cause of heart disease. The benefits of cholesterol-lowering medications (statins) for heart-healthy individuals has been exaggerated dramatically, and the risks of side effects have been silenced. This has made these drugs the most profitable ever for the pharmaceutical industry.
Statin Nation II
The movie Statin Nation examined a lot of this when it was released a few years ago. Recently the sequel was released – Statin Nation II. Watch the trailer above and you can watch the entire movie on the membership pages (free trial here).
About the Movie
Statin Nation II goes into more detail on all the paradoxes and contradictions in the cholesterol hypothesis. And how the people in the pharmaceutical industry are allowed to collect the evidence that is later used to create official guidelines on who’ll need their drugs.
As an added bonus people who are partly funded by the pharmaceutical industry are allowed to sit on the expert committees that decide on the guidelines (using the industry’s evidence). Not surprisingly a lot of people end up being told they need the drugs, even healthy people. Incredibly naive, really.
The problem? These are powerful drugs with significant risk of side effects. Taking them without needing to is not just a waste of money – it actually does more harm then good.
The movie also examines what the real cause of heart disease might be. Among other things stress and stress hormones, which likely play a significant role.
However, I think the movie sometimes stretches it a bit by using selected statistics. The same thing they criticize others for doing.
For example, they point at a study that concludes that people with many common risk factors (such as obesity or high blood pressure) have a lower risk of dying if they suffer a heart attack, as compared to others. Based on this they suggest these risk factors are not important for heart disease.
To me this is misleading. The statistics only include people who have already had a heart attack. This disregards the fact that many more people with these risk factors will suffer a heart attack in the first place. People who get a heart attack despite lacking conventional risk factors may have a different, more dangerous, type of heart disease due to other causes, for example a different genetic background.
In any case, heart disease is a lot more common with the risk factors – obesity, high blood pressure etc. – the opposite of the impression you may get from the movie.
Who Really Needs Statins?
It’s clear that statins are effective drugs. They DO tend to lower the risk of heart disease – probably by reducing the amount of small, dense LDL particles in the blood. This reduces damage/inflammation in the blood vessels.
For people with heart disease or extremely high risk for heart disease it may very well be worth taking a statin drug.
The problem is that as any effective drug statins also have significant side effects – like muscle ache, weakness, marginally lowered IQ and even an increased risk of diabetes type 2. These are not drugs you should take without a very good reason. If you do that they will probably do you more harm than good.
Watch Statin Nation
Keeping things like this in mind, the movie is well worth watching and the criticism of the pharmaceutical industry feels fair enough.
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