Misleading scientists – once again

October 2011

Statins cure almost everything. This is the message we are told again and again in the scientific press; at least from researchers supported by the drug companies. Here is a new example.

In European Heart Journal Peter S Sever and his coauthors claimed that statin treatment also lower mortality from infections and respiratory diseases. How did they come up with this surprising result? It is surprising because as readers of my books know, the lipoproteins, the carriers of cholesterol, is an important part of our immune system. If we lower cholesterol, we lower the lipoproteins as well.

Their argument comes from a large statin experiment called ASCOTT-LLA. This trial included more than 10,000 patients with hypertension, half of whom were treated with atorvastatin. The trial was stopped prematurely in 2002 after three years because of the allegedly obtained benefit at that time. In the treatment group 3.58% had died; in the untreated group 4.13%.

After that the treated participants decided for themselves whether they wanted to continue the treatment or not, and the untreated were offered treatment. About a third in the first group stopped or had already stopped treatment, and more than half of the others started. Eight years later more had died from infections and pulmonary diseases in the control group.

But how could they know whether the difference was due to statin treatment? As I wrote in a letter to the journal: It is not too farfetched to assume that those who stopped the treatment, did it because of unpleasant adverse effects, and that many of those, who had started it, not yet had recognized that possible adverse effects were caused by the treatment.

The analyses were supported by an unrestricted grant from Pfizer and two of the authors, including Peter Sever, had served as consultants or received travel expenses, or payment for speaking at meetings, or funding for research from one or more pharmaceutical companies that market blood-pressure-lowering or lipid-lowering drugs, including Pfizer for ASCOT.

If you want more information about the many misleading ways we are informed about the statins, read this paper by Stephanie Seneff. Stephanie is a senior scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a member of THINCS

Recently, the Danish government committed an act of extreme folly: They taxed saturated fat, ostensibly ‘to prevent obesity’. And in so doing, they got it disastrously wrong. Why? Because saturated fat is not only not fattening; it is actually one of the best slimming agents. If you understand the Scandinavian languages, you can read why that is a bad idea in my chronicle in Berlingske Tidende, one of the major Danish newspapers. (You can get an approximate translation using Google´s language tool). To prevent similar mistakes by other governments, Members of THINCS are just now preparing a similar paper in seven different languages to be sent to newspapers in other countries. We are not too optimistic because articles critical to the cholesterol campaign are rarely accepted for publication.

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