Someone I have come to know recently is Dr David Newman, Director of Clinical Research in Mount Sinai University, New York. He has been a great thorn in the flesh of the ‘statinators’ recently. He runs a website called http://www.thennt.com/ I recommend that everyone goes and has a look at it.
He is very concerned about providing information to the public that they can understand about various medical interventions. His work is excellent, he is clear, passionate and (nearly) 100% correct about everything.
He gave a talk called ‘The truth that lasts’ and you can catch it on you tube here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCk_vTkS6bU
For those of you, who have not had a heart attack or stroke, and are on statins, or are bullied into going onto statins, I suggest that you watch this. It is seventeen minutes long, and will be the most valuable seventeen minutes you have spent in your life.
Thanks Doc, I needed some new stuff to listen too. Most people in my line of work listen to music, but I’m addicted to podcasts about this sort of thing.
Thanks, that is good information
Most of current medical guidelines are spuriously used as if they were based on Science. There is a “golden rule” in science: “association does not mean causation”.
Here is an example:
“Suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation correlates with Number of lawyers in North Carolina. Correlation: 0.993796”
“high cholesterol causes (???) heart disease!”
Great stuff. I wish I could get some pro statin friends to watch this, but many don’t want to think out of the box. Sad. (” My father died of a heart attack. I’m going to listen to my doctor and carry on with the statins” etc).
This is great!
After my very serious heart attack 15 years ago they put me on five different drugs and immediately suggested bypassing all arteries in my heart.
Well, I am not at researcher in the natural sciences without reason so I first asked the guy in charge what would be the benefit of this invasive surgery. I was told that my risk for a new deadly heart attack within the next year would diminish from 12 to 8 %. NNT 25?
Life is risky as are heart surgery so I decided to abstain from such interventions and by using my research training I readily found out without real effort that the best thing I could do was to change my eating habits as now suggested by Dr David Newman. And neither did it take much of research to arrive specifically that I should refrain from the transfats in the margarine in all the cookies I had been consuming until then.
During these 15 years i have not touched the drugs they have so eagerly prescribed.
And the bypass surgery has still not taken place
I my view the medical system is really sick!
At a check up of my angina status about a year ago, the cardiology “expert” I encountered opened up by explicitly stating that he didn’t want to listen to my “story”, that my attitude was to be considered “almost criminal”, that he was not to be “steam rolled” by anyone and that he just followed the “guidelines”.
On my question if he didn’t considered it amazing that someone they wanted to bypass already 15 years ago and who had refused all medication was “still alive” and in pretty good shape in front of him (his ultrasonic examination had indicated a strong heart and in fine healthy shape) he went thoughtful for the first time during our meeting but then reclaimed quickly and burst out: “You have only been lucky!”
When I finally asked him if he could recommend me a good solid textbook (I told him that I am a good “reader”) about his speciality he went even more thoughtful and could actually not produce such a evident reference. To me that was the absolute bottom line of my trust into the health care system in Sweden when the “best” expert they could offer to me didn’t have even the most basic interest in his own discipline.
He did not hesitate for a second when he prescribed his five guideline drugs, and that without a second thought, although he was quite aware that I would never touch them.
Wow. Sounds like anyone could be a doctor, as all they do is prescribe drugs. No medical knowledge involved!
Can’t wait to watch this; however, at the moment I am in the furthest reaches of the Outer Hebrides, with scant internet, (but accessing excellent fresh food, and the occasional single malt!)
In this paradise of a place, I ought to be forgetting about the statins I thankfully relinquished 18 months ago, but you know what? …..the darned pill-pushers had me practically hard-wired to keep taking them for so long, that it is difficult to not have teeny-weeny niggles as to whether I have done the correct thing! Here’s hoping the 17 minute video puts my mind at rest, once and for all.
This blog and Dr K’s book have been my salvation, so fortunately the niggling doubts diminish with each topic discussed. It is a bit like turning one’s back on the religion of childhood…..the brainwashing runs deep, regardless of the logic learned in adulthood.
If this doesn’t do it for you Jennifer, try reading “Fat and Cholesterol are good for you” by Uffe Ravnskov – a meticulous dissection and analysis of all the statin drug trials and the real results!
That’s exactly how I feel. My husband was put on statins four years ago but had problems with the muscles in his legs and with his memory and then had another TIA after a year of taking them. The response was to double the dose – he had another TIA a year later and then I read The Great Cholesterol Con. After reading this and other related reading matter, we finally decided that he’d be better not taking the statins but as you say, it’s very difficult not to have nagging doubts about whether you’re doing the right thing, especially when the line of thought goes against most medical thinking and your own GP makes you sign to say you’ve been advised to take them. Consequently, I follow everything I can on this topic and so far, have found nothing to convince us that my husband should return to the statins. The muscle pains have very slowly disappeared and his memory isn’t causing him problems any more – and he hasn’t had any further TIAs. Sadly, I can’t convince my father to stop taking his statins (on them for about 20 years) and he has all the problems associated with them, or my brother who has never had a coronary event – only high cholesterol. I think they believe I have taken leave of my senses and turned into a crank especially as I was a nurse and midwife.
Wendy, I am a retired Registered Nurse and Radiographer, and family members have hung on my words for years, despite me insisting that they seek independent advice from a qualified medic regarding their ailments…….for years they have been content to take on board my understanding of many issues that come up in conversation when a nurse is around. ( like when we meet plumbers…..surely they know the answer to that dripping tap).
…….BUT…..not so the controversy I spout about statins and eating low carbohydrate foods, and….oh my goodness…’she must have lost leave of her senses” ….SATURATED animal fats!!! I just do not mention it these days.
The power of big business is so great, that our population in general has been incredibly brainwashed, albeit subliminaly ( the most effective method….and the advertisers know it), so it takes a strong personality to change the habits of the last 40 odd years.
If I am not wrong already Hippokrates suggested that your food should be your medicine.
I’ve read his book “Hippocrates’ Shadow”. What an eye-opener. In one chapter he wrote about his experience in an ER, and people who suffer migraines with the emesis. The ER docs receive patients who are experiencing a migraine “right now”. Researchers have patients whose migraines are over (so there’s no way to tell if a treatment actually works). Researchers have devised pain pills, but actually have the same benefit (or slightly less) than anti-emetics (eg. Gravol). Anti-emetics you administer right then, but those pain pills you either take at the moment, or forever.
That was mostly to explain the difference btw researchers and real-world scenario doctors (in his book). Researchers tend to view with disdain the actual lived experience of people. They’d rather you take the pill instead of ginger tea, due to profits, egos, careers at stake, etc.
Another gem was that CPR is less than 1% effective (or NNT>100), and it’s well known. But it continues to be taught, mostly due to the “well we gotta do something, just can’t do nothing”.
I disagree with the last part though, about Medi. diet. Didn’t Ancel Keys also invent that idea because he loved pasta so much, and the Italians also ate loads of pasta? It was a way to validate his own personal beliefs. And if it is a real thing, which region do you follow: Spain with their ham&cheese? North Italy with butter, lard, and bacon grease? South Italy with olive oil? Greece with goat and sheep dairy? Islamic Turkey and North Africa during Ramadan with the pastries and high sugar/fat foods to break the fasts?
No logic there.
His book is well worth a read though.
Mich. I almost entirely agree with you about the Mediterranean diet. France has the lowest rate of CVD in Europe with a diet that it completely different from that eaten in Greece – for example. There is no such thing as a Mediterranean diet.
It is a Walter Willet invention as Nina Teicholz showed in her fabous book: The Big Fat Surprise. There is no such thing as ONE Mediterranean Diet.
‘When Science can talk to society again’ (from the NNT clip) is exactly what has been and is missing from medical debate. This is a brilliant and fair presentation from Dr Newman. The question that remains is non-medical: why is research withheld and obfuscated for the public?
My next book, now called ‘Doctoring Data’ deals with this exact subject. Both the why and the how. In final editing at present.
I watched this today (prior to seeing that you had posted the link). I loved that it was so easy to understand – so clear in its message. A must see for anyone.
Brilliant 17 mins. Will be passing this on (have done already actually). The information that stents were no good was news to me. I have heard things like “So and so had a heart attack, but they’ve since put a stent in and it saved their life”. I absolutely believed it, and am quite shocked!
Saving lives is a phrase I particularly dislike.
Well Sue you totally should believe it. When you have four 99% arterial blockages and can barely move without severe angina, and are in great danger of a heart attack which may be fatal, changing your diet is not an option. A stent or CABG IS an option. The only ones. Those who are not good candidates for surgery have to rely on stent placement. Don’t believe people who say that this or that remedy is always right or always wrong. Certainly many people have, over a period of time, modified diet and reversed their symptoms. But that means their symptoms were still at a stage where they could be reversed. Having, or being in imminent danger of, an MI is not a situation that can be reversed over time by diet change. Intervention is needed immediately. Diet and behaviour modifications after the intervention is successful may certainly help – or maybe won’t. There are no guarantees.
Chris, the simple fact is that in the non-acute situation, stents and CABG have an NNT of infinity. I know several patients with no patent coronary arteries, they survive, and live, through the development of collateral circulation. The fact is that the data are clear. Non-acute stenting has no benefits on survival.
Dr. Kendrick – now you are talking about me!
Dr Kendrick: I wasn’t aware that non-acute stenting was even recommended these days. It’s difficult to see how stenting in a non-acute situation could be justified. And I agree that in a non-acute situation diet and behaviour modification can, over time, effect vast improvement in some patients. However Sue was referring to people having stent placements that “saved their lives” and it is a fact in the acute situation that stenting or CABG are indeed lifesavers. Also not every patient can achieve long term improvement by diet and activity modification or by stenting or by CABG or by drug therapy. There are some patients whose systems do not adjust well to any of these interventions. If they are lucky they may be able to settle for a chronic stable angina condition where every day presents challenges and dangers. I am one of these. If they are unlucky they may just succumb one day to a fatal MI. Like I said there are no guarantees.
Thank you, that was excellent! I know I was stunned when I found out that the NNT was 100 for high risk woman and mammography. It was even higher for low risk woman.
One wonders when (if ever) the NNT for colonoscopy will be released….
This just arrived in my inbox:
Thought you might be interested.
I heard on the B.B.C. some time ago ( so it must be true, ho ho ) that only 60% of the population were susceptible to the effects of statins in cholesterol lowering, the other 40% very sensibly having a genetic resistance. If this is the case, then Dr Newmans figures of 1 in a 100 needed to treat to gain a benefit mean that the amount of people who may gain a degreeof protection is even smaller, as it would equate to 10% of the population at high risk, of the 60% who the drugs would actually have an effect on. I worked this out roughly to mean that if the entire population of the U.K. of around 65 million were to take statins, it would benefit 39,000 people. I don’t know if this is correct. Excellent video, well worth watching.
“There is no such thing as a Mediterranean diet.”
Thank you for speaking that truth.
Even with known heart disease the effectiveness of statins is not huge: according to Dr Newman’s group ” The effectiveness of the statins is fairly consistent across studies in this group—they lower cholesterol in most people who took them. A few people will also avoid a heart attack or stroke by virtue of this change. After 5 years of daily statin therapy study subjects achieved a 1.2% lower chance of death, a 2.6% lower chance of heart attack, and a 0.8% lower chance of stroke. ” They also estimate that statin users will have a 2% chance of developing diabetes. Deciding not to take statins in the face of GP insistence feels tough and stressful, but figures like these reinforce the arguments against.
I live in Central Scotland and, like many others who have diabetes 2 (I control it by diet alone) was put onto statins (I believe my cholesterol reading was 9.6 just before I was started on the drug). I also have M. E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) so taking exercise has been a real struggle for me because of the after effects of walking. Fortunately, my blood pressure is, I believe, reasonable for my age of 66 years (132/78). Anyway, to compound matters I developed a buildup of excruciating pain in my muscles and joints once I started taking statins (and other side effects). However, I ‘soldiered on’, gritting my teeth, as, at that stage, I was more afraid of a stroke than the pain of taking statins. After trying about 4 different versions over approx. 6 years (with a layoff of a month between each where the pain subsided), I finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore and stopped the latest version (Fluvastatin) in May, after I told a doctor in the practice of my intentions. He, of course, tried to persuade me to start taking them again after two months and suggested taking them at a lower dose to see if that would keep the pain down…..and I very nearly agreed. In the meantime, I began researching into the side effects of statins (and statins in general) and discovered your book, Dr. Kendrick, (“The Great Cholesterol Con”) not long after which has definitely put me off taking them ever again. However, I had a cholesterol test 2 weeks go and, to my horror, found the level had gone up to 8.1 from a low of 5.4 when on the statins. Argh! What do I do now? I get the feeling that my cholesterol levels will go up inexorably and although, on the one hand I believe what you have said (and what M. de Lorgeril said in his book called “Cholesterol and Statins”), what else could possibly happen if my cholesterol levels keep on going up?? By the way, I feel I might have the familial version of high cholesterol as I consider my diet has always been reasonable (in my humble opinion) and am not sure what to do now. Help!
Barbara, if your diabetes is under control, and your cholesterol is high and you are concerned, consider this outrageous possibility. Perhaps your liver is doing what nature intended it to do. Perhaps it is just doing its job to fight a variety of infections, viruses or other uninvited visitors by delivering those wonderful anti-oxidants( among many other things) into your system as it is supposed to do. Just maybe you are a lot better off than most people and you have a lot to be grateful for .Dr. Kendrick once said in a interview that (according to many studies he reviewed) higher levels of cholesterol have been shown to be associated with more robust health and longevity. It was one of the most eye opening statements I had ever heard up until that point a year or so ago. And, I for one, have to agree that when my cholesterol was first being checked, it was never more than 216. That is not high, yet I was diagnosed with PAD. When I could not tolerate Antara which lowered my total to 166, I was scolded for complaining and put on a statin, Simvastatin, for about six years. My cholesterol fell to 121 almost overnight. Yet, the lower my cholesterol got, the more medications were thrown at me. The pain became unbearable. If low cholesterol was a sign of good health, then I had to be the poster child, but yet, I felt worse than ever. I suffered depression, uncharacteristic bouts of anger, and still had awful unrelenting pain.
I would not be overly concerned about your high cholesterol. Perhaps your body is just working at an optimum as it should. Maybe not… as I am not a doctor. But, I believe those I personally know who ditched the statins and started living a balanced lifestyle food wise and personally, feel so much better and quite frankly…look ten years younger. That is not such a bad thing is it?
Mary, thank you so much for your encouraging comments regarding cholesterol. I was almost beginning to waver (ever so slightly) regarding whether to return to taking statins again or not (not that my doctor knows that I definitely will NOT be taking them as I was too ill to go to an apointment to discuss my raised choleterol levels! Hmmmm….that sounds a bit ‘Irish’…..or something!) Anyway, I feel so much more liberated in my mind taking a stance on behalf of MY body! 🙂
Well, today I will be celebrating my birthday by having a meal out….and my first pudding in 2 and a half months! 🙂 (Gotta keep the jolly old diabetes under control as much as possible so, after this, no more sweet things until Xmas time at the earliest…if I can be strong-minded enough!). Tomorrow it will be back to ‘auld claes and cauld porritch’ (ask Dr. Kendrick what that means!) as I try hard to be sensible about what I eat.
Home after 3 weeks in the Outer Hebrides, so have now watched the excellent video, thankyou. Such sense except for Med diet advice….old hat, that bit has now been shown to be.
Thought folks might like to know my surgery have sent me a letter…..couldn’t reach me due to no mobile reception. (unlike when I was holidaying in London,.. a nuisance call, at 5:45, pestering me to (unnecessarily) submit myself for routine tests.)
So….can I let them have an up to date phone number? Can I produce a sample of urine to test, due to the medications I am taking?
Funny really…..never had a repeat prescription, or visited my arrogant GP in 18 months, since I stopped taking the sky high amounts of statins, B/P meds and oral hypoglycaemics.
Now tell me this, someone, please……who is benefitting from the NHS?
Can’t I just visit the surgery when I feel unwell? (I enjoy fantastic health and well-being).
Am I on an outdated data list, a bit like nuisance call centres use?
Will the poor office lass have her wages docked if I fail to respond?
I have now given up the addiction of hanging around for a phone call telling me of adverse results……do I wait in for 3 days?….or leave it until next week?….. Or just worry myself sick for month, in case I missed the call?Do the surgery administrators have any idea of the detrimental effect of doing 1471 on returning home…..in case the surgery are trying to summon me? After all, there is no mention of telling me by phone or letter, or any other system that “all is well”. Oh, I forgot…..there’s no money in it for them if I am OK, is there?
I am such a cynic these days. Sorry for the rant, as it seems inappropriate to the ‘Vulcan’ issue so well described by Dr K., but having been the recipient of endless meds for many years…..well, there must be something going on inside my body that needs investigating?…except there isn’t…..I am as fit as the proverbial lop…..now, has anyone investigated a solution to the annual scurge of the dreaded midges in the Scottish Highlands and Islands…..a very worth while line of research, if ever there was one!
Jennifer please keep calm (good coming from me) about the chasing etc. You are doing fine. Stress is not good for us and if it is any consolation this screws me up too.
I felt my diabetic reviews were largely a waste of time it was just to tick things off the doctor’s list. My husband described it as a monologue. Asking questions was disapproved of. I was to go on drugs with an HBA1c of less than 6.0. I was to add nearly 500 cals day to my diet of under 1200 cals. which puzzled me about what I could usefully cut out. Conflicting advice was given on all sorts of things. Statins were rejected immediately (TC 5.7) since advice was based on a biased sample of 144 young men and the drop in risk was very small. (Even as a presentational issue that was inept in my view.)
One seems to be supposed to do as one is told and not to ask questions (despite NICE saying joint decisions should be made). I have actually been told that more than once. So it is a breath of fresh air when Dr K encourages questioning doctors. I have blamed myself for poor relations with GPs in the past but from Dr K’s bogs it seems that what has happened to me is not uncommon.
I was puzzled about all of this and could not understand what was going on in health. The stats were the easy bit but why tick boxes off a list, why don’t answer questions, why the conflicting advice? I have learned so much from Dr K and been referred to Dr Goldacre and Zoe Harcombe’s and other books and am now reading more widely than I did before. I had not registered about QOFs.
We have to fit it with what the health service wants us to do and when regardless. Examples include waiting for months for an appointment at a hospital, going three times to give blood since they cannot get any out of me, being told to have one pre med assessment on a 26 Jan for an op on 31 Jan but being to told to go for the second pre med assessment on 26 April ie 3 months after the op!!! As usual I got the blame. After that op in Jan they summoned me back to give me my results but had to wait hours. Then once every one else had gone they told me they had lost me from the system and had no record of my treatment so I had to have a second operation. Mercifully I had my wits about me that day. Hang on a minute, I said, every respectable public sector computer system has a back up system. This is a hospital dealing with life and death cases you must have a back up system. They went away to look but still could not find my records. Eventually they came back with a letter from the doctor who tested my sample. I called them Fawlty Towers Hospital but my husband says it was worse than that since he would have sent Basil Fawtly in to sort them out!
As regards the annual scourge of the dreaded midges (not all of which reside in the Highlands and Islands) I use Apaisyl gel which I buy in France for almost 6 euros a tube. It does not seem to be available here anymore so maybe it is not considered any good but it is not on prescription in France. If I don’t have that I use Vaseline jelly which helps but is not quite so effective on me. I have never found any thing which keeps the blighters at bay.
I have lost confidence in medicine and yet there are some fantastic things going on. It is not just medicine there are so many things going on which are flawed.
When I started looking into things years ago I thought I was on my own. Now I know this is not the case. I am very grateful for Dr K’s work and for his blog.
Thank you Pat.
Last year I thought I was a lone voice in conflict with my GP. It distressed me, feeling that I was an inadequate, cantankerous old so and so. But I stuck to my guns, and now seem to be in a growing cohort of similar minded people like yourself. It must be a concern to the medical profession that patients are losing faith at grass roots level. My GP has twice repremanded me for getting info from the internet…..there won’t be a third time, I can assure you. The previous times I just slouched out of the surgery duly chastened, but after much more research, I now know my pleadings were based on good research….and that the GP was/maybe still is, poorly educated.
Keep up the good work in the surgery Jennifer. You’re right, I think people losing faith in their GPs at grass roots level. I certainly am, and If we continue to ask questions they will be ultimately be forced to check things out so that they can give coherent answers. We may then find changes happening!
Greetings from across the pond Dr. Kendrick. When I saw Dr. Oz today, I nearly dropped my jaw. He had a physician on who actually touted the benefits of and the need for cholesterol, animal fat, carbs with a low glycemic index, and moderate exercise to reduce stress. Table sugar was finally mildly demonized. Who would have thunk? Cholesterol is a good thing? But…he never could bring himself to say the dirty word, statin. During a meeting yesterday, I was kindly taken aside and reprimanded for saying I hate statins. When I proposed that cholesterol is not the problem and oxidative stress, inflammation gone wild or stress and other sources should be considered and have merit in the medical literature, I was reprimanded again!! I was commanded to give my sources or the website. I simply said, “Gee where would I start?” I knew it as far back as the 80’s ( I just ate that way because someone I respected told me to) but this information I assured her, is something that has begun to show itself over time to me and has culminated finally in my refusal to take statins. As someone who has been treated for vascular disease, I am regarded as an infidel. But, when I started that conversation…all hell broke lose. Everyone jumped up and began to ask me so many questions and comment so much on the down low so to speak. It is sad that people are hungry for answers that they should be getting from their doctors. It has taken me over one year to BEGIN to feel better. I exercise, eat foods that taste good and don’t make me feel like an addict and I don’t think I am going to die or lose a limb from vascular disease. And, I have a glass of red wine at night although I really don’t like alcohol or the taste. I am getting used to it again. There are those who have elected not to have stents and by pass and decided to go natural, but they don’t open their mouths. I have noticed Dr. Oz slowly easing his way down that path, but I don’t watch him often enough to really get a handle on it. My friends do often if they see it. They say, it sounds like everything you have been telling us for a long time. That made me really proud that I read your first book and those of Dr. Graveline as well as the countless articles and studies I have reviewed. Thus far just a layperson like myself has convinced at least 30 people to get rid of statins. I love to read and I owe a lot to those brave pioneers who made Statin Nation I. It finally came together. Life is a process. Healthcare is a process, not static but ever evolving as it should be. Surely, one day we will all say…if that many people tell you that you are dead…Mr. Statin, it is time to lay down. I enjoyed Dr. Newman’s 17 minutes of sanity. In the South, we eat well and always have. I did not have to make many adjustments to my diet except for the sugar. Living well is the best revenge. One more comment if I may…if Alex Salmond looked as good in a kilt as Mel Gibson, Scotland would be free from Great Britain today. LOL Thanks again, Dr. Kendrick. I look forward to your next book.
Ye can take ma statins, but ye cannae take my freedom. Hoots mon. Alex ‘you can have everything you want, and someone else will pay for it’ Salmond was a brilliant used car salesman, but I think Scotland is better as part of the United Kingdom. So I am happy – even though I didn’t get a vote.
Ooh…..we are getting into politics, but as a happy, true Geordie, I am delighted with the outcome of the referendum.
Visiting Linlithgow on Tuesday, it occurred to me that many medical advances of the world were instigated in Scotland and Newcastle upon Tyne, yet these same areas have been let down by politicians……just look at the number of sweetie shops, rubbish bakers and take-aways. And this is due to poverty, not lack of education. Health issues in poor areas are of paramount importance to the success of our Nation; this problem must be addressed by educated research, and not subdued by the incessant, affluent pill-pushers, as has happened in latter years.
It takes political intervention to resolve this, and those who say “I don’t do politics” should wake up to what their apathy has resulted in.
Proper food, not chemicals/pills, for physical and mental well-being is the message I would wish to convey.
I got a kick out of your response, Dr. Kendrick. Clever and quick on your feet as usual, you made me laugh out loud. I was not sure what would be best for Scotland and I appreciate your comments and am glad you are happy about the vote. Sorry for injecting a little politics, but I was curious. I watched the debates on the BBC through C-Span.
I think it would be worthwhile for people to see what Dr. Steven Colbert has to say about the results of the Jupiter Trial and statins in general. There is a little info, too about Women’s Health. This “doctor” really knows his stuff!!
The only path Dr. Oz follows is the one leading to high ratings. Anything he happens to endorse is coincidental.
Jennifer, I am with you on that. After reading “How the Scots Invented the Modern World”, I knew how very much we in America owe to them. Thanks for your comments. You cannot win any war without political intervention. Why do you think Mr. Obama did an about face in the last two days? Political pressure can change the course of history.