The Statin Disaster
David Brownstein, MD
Medical Alternatives Press
Dr. Brownstein takes a very logical and therefore unusual approach to analyzing the controversy surrounding statin (cholesterol-lowering) drugs: he looks at what the studies say. By contrast, many hang on what the so-called experts say. The problem with that latter tactic is that the purported experts say a lot of things that come from thin air and are supported neither by studies nor data. Others look for truth in what the news media present. It’s still a little hard for me to believe so many haven’t noticed the total lack of credibility of the media yet. If you value your life you especially don’t want to take seriously anything they bandy about on the morning shows.
One must be very careful even when examining the conclusions of scientific studies. All of the major studies relating to statin drugs are examined in this book. It must be understood that content presented in the studies’ abstracts or conclusions is not always in agreement with the studies’ actual data. Many people rely on their doctors to elucidate the confusion for them. Because Dr. Brownstein is a medical doctor he has some interesting insights into a few of the shortcomings of the medical community. He has worked with many medical students and interns who have received some training in statistics. He regularly puts that training to the test and has found that most students fail. Without some basic statistical competence, all the studies or data in the world will remain unintelligible to you. For example, Dr. Brownstein explains the crucial difference between relative risk and absolute risk.
When two people in a treatment group die and three people in a placebo group die, the relative risk of dying is 50 percent greater for untreated people than for treated people (three is 50 percent greater than two). That number sounds significant, and advertisers and propagandists love to play that game when promoting their favorite miracle drug. But if there are ten thousand people in each group, then two versus three deaths in ten thousand is in fact an insignificant difference in outcome. Therefore it is the absolute risk that you have to pay attention to when assessing study results.
Let’s say you take a bright young medical student and give him many years of advanced education, followed by more years of internship and then more years of experience on the job. Now try to tell that matured doctor, steeped in all of his experience to date, that any part of what he learned along that protracted path is wrong. Ninety-nine percent of the time it won’t go over well. Dr. Brownstein gave a detailed presentation on statin studies, the statistics and what they really mean to a large group of doctors. When those doctors were confronted with this information even by one of their own, they did not respond well. Dr. Brownstein had to back slowly out of the room, not making any sudden moves. Somehow he escaped with his life. I’m probably exaggerating. A little.
The studies actually show only a tiny benefit of statin drug use only among certain demographics. If these drugs were cheap, safe and had no side effects, they might be worth taking for that small population. Yet they are not cheap, not safe and have many serious side effects. It takes nearly a whole page of Dr. Brownstein’s book to list the adverse effects of statin drugs. Adverse effects are often brushed aside as rare occurrences. They may happen to someone else, but not to you. Cognitive disorders may not sound very serious, especially if you have them, but one hundred percent of statin users experience them. If you feel the need to be a little more brain-dead, this could be the pill for you. Check with your doctor.
Most adults with diabetes now get a prescription for statins. Since it is well established that statin drugs increase the risk of diabetes, I can only speculate that they are prescribed in order to make darn sure you develop diabetes and there is no chance of a wrong diagnosis, because that would be awkward.
A key point is made in Chapter 8 that human biochemistry has been fairly stable for a long time now and there is no reason to believe there are any defects in those biochemical pathways. Most pharmaceuticals inhibit those critical pathways so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that taking those drugs (statins in particular) causes bad things to happen. The human body goes to great lengths to maintain cholesterol levels so either Mother Nature, evolution, or God, whichever one you believe in, made a colossal mistake if we need drugs to lower cholesterol. Dr. Brownstein does recognize one condition where he would prescribe a statin drug. He calls that condition “statin deficiency syndrome.” He has not seen a single case so far in over twenty years of experience. My thumb is UP for this book.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2015