- The only population that statins extend life in are men under 80 years of age with pre-existing heart disease.
- In men under 80 without pre-existing heart disease, men over 80 with or without heart disease, and women of any age with or without heart disease, statins have not been shown to extend lifespan.
- Statins do reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in all populations. A heart attack or stroke can have a significant, negative impact on quality of life—particularly in the elderly—so this benefit should not be discounted.
- However, the reductions in cardiovascular events are often more modest than most assume; 60 people with high cholesterol but no heart disease would need to be treated for 5 years to prevent a single heart attack, and 268 people would need to be treated for 5 years to prevent a single stroke.
- Statins have been shown to cause a number of side effects, such as muscle pain and cognitive problems, and they are probably more common than currently estimated due to under-reporting."
The article is a remarkably readable review of a tough topic. Biggest takeaway - statins are the best evidence available that "cholesterol" is the agent of heart disease. If statins don't actually reduce heart disease, the case that "high cholesterol" is the cause of arterial disease has next to no evidence as support.
Even if statins were proof of the cholesterol = causation issue, there's still no proof, and nearly no evidence, that reducing consumption of saturated fat (and replacing it with other fats or carbs) will result in less heart disease or "lower cholesterol". The opposite is more likely for most of us.