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Statins Better than Supplements?

Statins Better than Supplements?
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Sure, if your goal is to increase your risk of grave side effects while taking ineffective medications. Action Alert!

Here we go again: another flawed study taking aim at supplements. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concludes that statins are more effective than fish oil, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, plant sterols, and red yeast rice at lowering LDL cholesterol over a four-week period. Is this the nail in the coffin of supplements for heart health? NO! These and other similar stories we’ve reported on over the years are a disservice to public health because they add to the mistaken perception that supplements are “useless” when the truth is anything but.

There are a number of critical flaws in the study, especially the mistaken premise that LDL cholesterol is a predictor of heart disease. Whether these are flaws or deliberate strategies to cast statins in a favorable light may be illuminated by the fact that the study was funded by AstraZeneca, the maker of Crestor, the very statin used in the study. A study funded by the maker of one of the most profitable statin drugs finds that statins are more effective than supplements—go figure!

Additionally, the study compared statin and supplement use over a four-week period. This completely misses the point of supplements and supplementation. Integrative medical practitioners would not expect supplements to change heart health in such a short period of time, even with diet and lifestyle modifications. These changes take months. The study’s authors must know this, which is another indication that this was a stacked deck in favor of statins.

Lest we think that statins are actually effective medicines, let’s not forget other evidence which has found that these drugs provide benefits to as few as 1 in 50 patients, and come with a host of debilitating side effects. Here are a few “lowlights”:

  • Statins interfere with the production of coenzyme Q10, which supports the body’s immune and nervous systems, boosts heart and other muscle health, maintains normal blood pressure, and much more.
  • Statins weaken the immune system, make it difficult to fight off bacterial infections, and increase the production of cytokines, which trigger and sustain inflammation.
  • They make some patients unable to concentrate or remember words, and are linked to muscle and neurological problems, including Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
  • Statins inhibit the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids by promoting the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids, which increases insulin resistance and the risk of developing diabetes.
  • There is evidence that statin use blocks the benefits of exercise. Exercise increases the activity and numbers of mitochondria, cells’ “power plants” that process sugars and fat. The study found that with statin use, mitochondrial activity actually decreases with exercise.
  • Statins work by reducing the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, which is essential to brain health—the brain is 2% of the body’s weight, but contains 25% of the entire body’s cholesterol.

As stated above, the study is based on the mistaken premise that LDL cholesterol is a good predictor of heart disease. The medical establishment has gotten this wrong. This mistaken conception is based on the simplistic notion that there are two kinds of cholesterol: “bad” (LDL) and “good” (HDL), and that “bad” cholesterol causes heart disease.

The fact is that cholesterol is vital to human healthWe’ve noted in the past that cholesterol isn’t the ticking time bomb most people have been led to think—in fact, the real danger is that our cholesterol levels can get too low as we age! Even “bad” cholesterol is essential. For example:

There is ample evidence that supplements can support heart health, Big Pharma-funded studies notwithstanding. A review of the medical literature shows that supplementing with preventive levels of fish oil, for example, leads to a risk reduction of 10 percent for coronary artery disease (CAD) events. If people at risk for CAD events supplement with fish oil, an estimated 174,811 CAD events could be avoided, saving $5.63 billion. Our previous coverage shows other supplements that can support a healthy heart.

These kinds of misleading studies can have wide-ranging negative impacts. Not only do they incorrectly dissuade Americans from taking supplements that can support health; they provide fodder to the likes of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in their quest to place further restrictions on dietary supplements. The story they tell to accomplish that goal is that supplements are unregulated, useless “snake oil” purchased by an unsuspecting public. We must continue to push back against Sen. Durbin’s efforts to pass a bad supplement policy that would limit your access to a wide variety of supplements.

Action Alert! Write to Congress and tell them to oppose mandatory product registration for dietary supplements. Please send your message immediately.

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