Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stats on Statins, Dr. Briffa

'We're told by the authors this meta-analysis that treating with statins prevented 11 major vascular events for every 1000 people treated for a period of 5 years. Put another way, 91 people would need to be treated for 5 years to prevent one major vascular event. Or in other words, only about 1 per cent of people treated with statins for 5 years will benefit (and about 99 per cent won't).
"Professor Baigent and his colleagues give us some soothing reassurances about the fact that the benefits of statins vastly outweighing the risks of adverse events such as myopapthy (muscle pain and weakness). They quote of the excess incidence of myopathy as 0.5 cases per 1000 people over 5 years. However, the source they quote is based on diagnosing myopathy once the marker for muscle damage (creatine kinase) is at least ten times the upper limit of normal. Many individuals will have significant pain and weakness with much lower levels of creatine kinase. Statins are also linked with adverse effects on the liver and kidneys, and increase risk of diabetes too. Overall, adverse effects of statins affect about 20 per cent of people who take them."

Why would a health and diet blogger care about statin research?  Because the case for statins is the case for high carb, low fat, and I think that diet will kill you.  Taking statins is not a topic I should make recommendations one, one way or the other.  But if you know how weak the statin case is, you can infer that the case made by what Mike Eades calls the statinators is very weak:
1.  We can't prove that dietary reduction of blood cholesterol lowers mortality rates
2.  But, since statins lower blood cholesterol, and statins reduce heart disease, we can assume that lowering blood cholesterol is good for you.

For one, this assumption is invalid; there could be a number of reason why a statin might reduce heart disease.  Two, the reduction of heart disease is risk is not very dramatic (see above).  Three, it is accompanied by an increased risk of death from other causes, thus all cause mortality for statin users is identical to that of non-statin users.

In other words, what is known about statins doesn't say anything good about eating a low fat diet.  

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