When I was diagnosed with diabetes I was immediately put on a course of statin treatment (Simvastatin 40mg) in an attempt to lower my cholesterol levels. After 6 weeks of treatment my total cholesterol level was measured at 2.4 mmol/l. The nurse told me that it was 'the lowest she'd ever seen', my GP gave a sharp intake of breath and said 'that's excellent'! Needless to say, I was very pleased and felt rather smug! The best they'd ever seen! Now, however, I no longer believe this to be true.
In a very readable, humorous style, Dr Kendrick evaluates the cholesterol hypothesis from its origins, when it was thought that dietary cholesterol was the major risk factor to cardiovascular health, to later and current thinking whereupon cholesterol has been subdivided into 'good' (HDL) and 'bad' (LDL) cholesterol. The history and interpretation of all the major studies of the role of elevated cholesterol levels in heart disease is described, with their flaws and inconsistencies exposed. Determined to prove that high cholesterol, particularly LDL, contributes significantly to diminished life expectancy amongst populations, the cholesterol hypothesis is constantly adapted to overcome contradictory findings. Then come the statins - a multi-billion dollar industry with pharmaceutical giants (who, incidentally fund the vast majority of research into the efficacy of statins amongst other drug therapies) fighting a battle on all fronts to convince all and everyone that these wonder drugs will lead to longer, and healthier lives. Furthermore, GPs are keen to prescribe statins as they are rewarded for achieving reduced levels of cholesterol in their patients.
Dr Kendrick does not deny that, in those with a history of heart disease, life expectancy can be increased. However, by explaining the way that statistics are manipulated he exposes the truth: 10 million high risk people taking statins for a year may increase their lifespan by, on average, two days. Furthermore, studies have shown that having too LOW a level of cholesterol may actually contribute to strokes, plus there are many potential side-effects of the drugs that are not yet known because they have not been in use long enough. There are concerns that they could lead to increases in certain cancers, plus are also thought to be responsible for muscle and joint deterioration and even, paradoxically, to heart failure!
If you are taking statins then I would urge you to read this book, alongside others to obtain a balanced view, and decide whether you are taking unnecessary risks with your future health.show more
by Alan Eastwood