Scared straight by statins

Have you heard of NNT?

I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t… it stands for “number needed to treat.” The number of people who have to take a drug for just one person to benefit from it.

If a drug helps one person out of five it will be marketed as a “wonder drug.”

Which means for you, the person taking it, there’s an 80% chance it won’t do anything for you.

That’s why the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want you to know what NNT is … and they completely ignore it when they advertise their drugs to you.

Statins are the perfect example. The commercials would have you think life is glorious on a statin drug. Now you can canoe and kiss your spouse and play with your grandkids.

Yet statins have an NNT of 60. Which means for every 60 people who take it, most only get the awful side effects and none of the supposed benefit. 60 people would have to take a statin drug for at least five years for the probability that just one person wouldn’t have a non-fatal heart attack.

And what about the other kind – fatal heart attacks? Not a single heart attack death would be prevented.1

Even without knowing the NNT, people are starting to figure out statins aren’t a good idea. Why? Because they don’t like side effects, and that’s something no one has to tell them about.

So Big Pharma has come up with a solution. A marketing campaign to doctors to make people take their statins.

You see, they think people who don’t want to take a drug to lower cholesterol are just being children who won’t do what they’re told, and that it’s silly to worry about statin side effects.

So they’ve come up with a new term: “Statin Phobia.” That way, they can get their “bad children” to come out of their hiding places and take the drug.

But the truth is, you should still stay away from them… not only because they still have plenty of side effects, but because cholesterol is a good thing.

In fact, higher cholesterol saves lives. A 10-year study in the prestigious journal Lancet proved people with higher cholesterol had a lower risk of dying from any cause.2

And just a short list of statin drug side effects should make you hide from a doctor who tries to give you one. They include muscle pain, memory loss, and even liver failure. Statins are also linked to Parkinson’s disease3 and Lou Gehrig’s disease.4 And recently, the FDA added a black box warning to statins alerting patients to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The side effects get so bad that one study found 62% of statin users can’t stand it and stop taking their medication. 5

It comes down to this. You’ll live longer and better with higher cholesterol. Without it you’ll be weak, slow, forgetful, and impotent.

What you want to do instead is lower inflammation in your body. Inflammation is the real disease.

Here are the two steps I have my patients take instead of statins to squelch inflammation and cut the risk of heart attack and stroke:

1. Use the good fat that cools inflammation … and prevents heart problems. Inflammation is the real cause of plaque buildup in the arteries. That’s what leads to atherosclerosis.

To cool inflammation naturally, I recommend getting more of the omega-3 fat called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). A new Japanese study shows that simply having enough EPA in your body lowers the risk of having any cardiac event by 79%.6

No statin can make a claim anywhere close to that.

EPA is an essential fatty acid. That means you can’t make it in your body and you have to get it from food to keep inflammation low, maintain your heart rhythm, and raise HDL, the protective kind of cholesterol.

The best food sources of EPA are grass-fed beef or fatty cold-water fish like salmon, lake trout, sardines, and pollock. But even these are now raised on an unnatural diet and don’t have the EPA they once did.

I used to recommend taking fish oil for EPA. But now I’ve found a much better source that’s far more bioavailable than any fish oil ever was. It’s krill oil. The EPA in krill oil is in the “phospholipid” form that penetrates directly into heart cells. I recommend taking at least 500 mg of krill oil EPA per day.

2. Lower this heart-stopping blood fat. Triglycerides are more important to track for your heart health than cholesterol. People with high levels of these fats in the blood have three times the risk of heart disease as people with high LDL levels.

One of the best ways to lower triglycerides is to cut out excess, processed sugar from your food. Research presented at a recent annual meeting of the American Heart Association found that women who drank only two sugary drinks a day were nearly four times as likely to have high triglycerides, the best predictor of heart risk for women.

High fructose corn syrup is just as bad. One animal study found that a diet high in HFCS resulted in elevated levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.

Instead of sugar, load up on protein. High-quality protein will lower your triglycerides and raise your HDL. The best protein sources are nuts, eggs, free-range poultry, grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon.

A pretty good source of protein that also has another triglyceride-lowering property is beans. Their soluble fiber absorbs fats and helps the body excrete them before they can turn into triglycerides. One study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when men with high triglycerides added canned beans to their diet every day they lowered their triglycerides by 18%.7

Eat one or two cups of beans every day. Try a variety like pintos, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, cannellini, and peas.

If you’re not a bean lover, you can take an extract of white kidney beans. In one double-blind placebo-controlled study, patients were assigned to take either a placebo or 1,000 milligrams of white bean extract twice a day before meals containing starches. After 24 weeks, the group taking the white bean extract lowered their triglycerides 330% more than the placebo group.8

Start with 500 mg of the extract twice a day. It’s important to take it about 20 minutes before you eat to get the triglyceride lowering effect.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD

1. Hooper J. “Drugs: Effective for the Few, Prescribed to the Many.” Men’s Journal. Retriened September 23, 2014. 2. Weverling-Rijnsburger AW, Blauw GJ, Lagaay AM, Knook DL, Meinders AE, Westendorp RG. “Total cholesterol and risk of mortality in the oldest old.” Lancet 1997;350(9085):1119-23. 3. Du G, Lewis M, Shaffer M, Chen H, Yang Q, Mailman R, Huang X. “Serum cholesterol and nigrostriatal R2* values in Parkinson’s disease.” PLoS One 2012;7(4):e35397. 4. Beltowski J. “Statins and ALS: the possible role of impaired LXR signaling.” Med Sci Monit 2010;16(3):RA73-78. 5. Cohen JD, Brinton EA, Ito MK, Jacobson TA. Understanding Statin Use in America and Gaps in Patient Education (USAGE): an internet-based survey of 10,138 current and former statin users. J Clin Lipidol. 2012;6(3):208-15. 6. Kohashi K, et. al. “Effects of Eicosapentaenoic Acid on the Levels of Inflammatory Markers, Cardiac Function and Long-Term Prognosis in Chronic Heart Failure Patients with Dyslipidemia.” J Atheroscler Thromb. 2014. Epub ahead of print. 7. Anderson JW, Gustafson NJ, Spencer DB, Tietyen J, Bryant CA. Serum lipid response of hypercholesterolemic men to single and divided doses of canned beans. Am J Clin Nutr 1990;51:1013-9. 8. Erner S, Meiss D. “Thera-Slim for Weight Loss: A randomized double-blind placebo controlled study.” 2003. Online Source: