How Statin Drugs Really Lower Cholesterol and Kill You One Cell at a Time
by James B. Yoseph and Hannah Yoseph, MD
Published by James B. Yoseph and Hannah Yoseph, MD
As you may gather from this book’s title, Yoseph and Yoseph are not advocates of statin drugs. They give their readers a detailed history of the development of statins along with an explanation of precisely what statins do to cell biology. This information is clearly referenced and displayed in boxes interleaved in the text at the appropriate places. If you don’t want to read all the details in the references you can skip the boxes and read on. If you want to investigate the references immediately, they are right before you. I like it. Clearly, the authors know this subject is controversial so they back up everything they say as sturdily as possible.
Because one of the authors is an MD and they are covering all the details, there is a certain amount of technicalese in the book but it is all adequately explained and therefore understandable if you pay attention.
Early statin research was carried out by Sankyo in Japan and Merck in the United States and came to a screeching halt when all the lab animals developed cancer. The research also clearly showed that statins work by disrupting the mevalonate pathway. What essentially happens when you shut down the mevalonate pathway is that cellular DNA can no longer replicate itself. As an added bonus, the cell dies.
The American researchers in particular overcame this serious obstacle by jettisoning any inconvenient morals they might have had and forging ahead with development of the drug. There is no question that statin drugs reduce cholesterol in the bloodstream. Since modern medicine has been so effective at convincing everyone that cholesterol is to be feared above all else, there was much money to be made with such a drug. That’s great if you’re selling it, not so good if you’re taking it. Brown and Goldstein, two of the main researchers for Merck, wrote a treatise explaining how statins lower cholesterol and won a Nobel prize. They probably thought that was great, too. I suppose one might be impressed with the slick way they avoided any discussion of the disastrous side effects of statins.
By the time Yoseph and Yoseph finish explaining the history and mechanism of statin drugs, we are left with limited options. Either doctors who prescribe them don’t really understand how they work, don’t understand basic cell biology, or don’t care about that as much as they care about their salaries. The authors point out the fundamental conflict of interest in our medical system.
Some of our readers may remember that Merck was forced to recall the painkiller Vioxx when the number of people having heart attacks became too large to hide. You may also remember the embarrassing fact that Merck happened to know about that problem before it ever released the drug onto the market. The authors of this book remind us of that debacle and go on to document the same pattern of behavior in the case of lovastatin (Merck’s bestselling statin drug). Conflict of interest has motivated Merck and other pharmaceutical companies to misbehave in a number of cases that are a matter of public record.
The NIH-backed National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) set national policy for lowering cholesterol with statins. All doctors who established NCEP guidelines had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies who make more money if recommended cholesterol levels are lower.
Continuing the conflict-of-interest theme, we come to the FDA. In an advisory committee meeting held to review guidelines for lovastatin, the meeting was not chaired by an FDA employee but by a Merck consultant. The advisory committee included two Merck consultants and seven Merck employees. Half of the audience was made up of Merck consultants.
Corruption in the FDA has reached the point where scientists who work for the FDA have written a letter to President Obama complaining about it. Part of that letter is reproduced in the book. There has been no response to that letter from either the FDA or the Obama administration. FDA-approved drugs kill one hundred thousand Americans and generate over two million adverse drug reactions per year. FDA-approved drugs are the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. They don’t even try to hide that information. It’s on their website. If you are keeping up with current events you know the FDA does not recognize your right to choose your own food and local, small farm food options are slowly but surely being outlawed. Here’s a sobering thought: if this trend continues you will have no choice but to patronize the factory food and factory medical system where the only thing between you and disaster is the competence and integrity of the FDA.
In unrelated news, we’re all going to die one day.
I don’t seriously believe that this is how it will ultimately play out, but it could if we let it happen. One might wonder why everyone who is prescribed statin drugs doesn’t drop dead shortly after starting them. The pharmaceutical companies know that Americans haven’t been dumbed down enough (yet) to fail to notice that particular side effect, so the drug is sufficiently diluted so that most victims won’t start noticing severe symptoms for at least a few years. The average person is not very good at connecting cause and effect when the two are separated by years. It’s a great racket.
The authors put forward theories concerning the real causes of cancer and heart attacks. I don’t know for sure whether they are right but they are interesting. Even though most of our readers are familiar with the general subject, this book is very interesting and well done. Their devastating analysis of how statins work makes it clear that the end result can’t be good even when short term results look promising.
The Japanese researcher Dr. Akira Endo is credited with finding the first statin. When asked why he wouldn’t take it for his own high cholesterol, he answered with an inscrutable Japanese proverb, “The indigo dyer wears white trousers.” To make sense of that you need to know indigo dye is toxic.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2012.