Do we really know about statin dangers?

Friday 13 March, 2015    


  • How dangerous is this common and widely used drug?


  • Statins ARE dangerous...but why aren't we told about this?

  • Some things should never change – find out why

You get used to things as older age settles in.

My favourite cardigan is more a comforting friend than an item of clothing, my favourite chair in the corner by the fire is a safe refuge from the horrors of family life and the Daily Express is a powerful supporter of using statins.

Things you can really depend upon.

Ever since I first started to discover the problems of this class of drug I continually ran up against an Express story saying how they cured cancer, saved lives and supported the British economy.

A real single handed cure-all you might say.

If you need reminding about some of the claims made by the good folk of the Express then here’s a sample of headlines they have run on this very subject:

On the 4th April 2012... “STATINS HALT ALZHEIMERS”, then on the 10th August that year “STATINS KEY TO LONGER LIFE”, with “STATINS SLASH CANCER RISK” following soon after on the 18th October.

By the time we get to 26th September 2013 they have gone all out with “STATINS: MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH” describing the production of a new class of drug as follows;

“NEW 'miracle' statins will help patients live without the fear of harmful side-effects from the heart pills, say scientists.”

They really have gone to town in support of all that is the statin drug...

...until last week that is.

I had to read the masthead three times to make sure there was no mistake!

It WAS the Daily Express but the headline read “HOW STATINS CAN CAUSE DIABETES”. To say I was shocked was a major understatement.

I nearly swallowed my mug along with the tea in it – I never thought I would see the day.

Mind you I am glad to see that the fanciful journos under Mr Desmond’s control have finally taken off their rose tinted specs... however, they have still got the story wrong!

It is not about the fact that statins cause diabetes so much as promote it – and that is a very different thing.

Where genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors are likely to increase the risk of diabetes developing, then statins increase that risk... but if you were unlikely to develop diabetes anyway then they won’t cause it.

Mind you they do certainly cause other problems such as liver, kidney, muscle and joint damage – and the facts are that 99% of people who are taking them get absolutely no benefit from doing so.

That is the real story chaps/chapesses, not the focus on diabetes.

By changing your lifestyle and incorporating a healthy and natural alternative approach most people can easily and effectively lower their cholesterol levels without any further health risk.

Doing the right thing isn’t always about prescription drugs.

Which leads me on to another breaking news story...

How dangerous is paracetamol

It might sound like I’m picking on them but a few days before the statins reversal by the Daily Express they also ran a front page item saying that paracetamol was putting lives at risk.

The story centres around a study(1) from Leeds University which asks GPs to be cautious over long term use, makes the statement that their data suggests a considerable degree of paracetamol toxicity especially at the upper end of standard analgesic doses.

But does this mean we should all stop taking the over-the-counter headache and cold remedies?
Implicitly no.

The worry is around GPs over-prescribing an easy solution for pain, rather than trying to understand what is causing it.

But I also have a concern about this type of story which seeks to undermine faith in a long trusted remedy like see I begin to wonder whether anyone benefits from it.

If the public stops taking this medication which costs around 30 pence for a pack of 16 from your local chemist what will they take instead?

Chances are it will be more expensive and earning the maker a lot more than the paracetamol does.

I had a quick look to see who funded the study but it is shrouded in mystery, and the lead scientist, Prof Conaghan, had worked for the Arthritis Research Council and European League Against Rheumatism so he seems pretty clean.

But it does just make me wonder all the same.

In my book this research provides important insight into the outcomes that might occur when paracetamol is not taken in the correct manner, and how different patterns of overuse can affect the body differently.

I for one will not hesitate to pop a paracetamol when the need arises, but I wouldn’t consider it part of a daily routine.

Like any drug we have to take responsibility for its use.
On Sunday I want to offer you the chance to let an embarrassing problem become a thing of the past...

...but you may be surprised about how I want you to do this!

Make sure you look out for the newsletter – it is a sweet, sweet story!

Now, back to the cosy cardigan, comfy chair and dodgy Daily Express headlines... I know where I am with them!

MHM Update

A few people have asked me about my stable mate Ken Benson and his health newsletter called the Meta Health Monitor.

I’m happy to report that he and I shared a convivial lunch the other day and all is good with him and the MHM.

If you haven’t registered to get a free copy of his entertaining and enlightening output please visit his website and sign up.

As I said before I don’t view Ken as a competitor, more as a colleague give the MHM a whirl as well as continuing to enjoy the Good Life Letter.

Yours, as always



(1) Roberts, E., Nunes, V. D., Buckner, S., Latchem, S., Constanti, M., Miller, P., ... & Conaghan, P. G. (2015). Paracetamol: not as safe as we thought? A systematic literature review of observational studies. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, annrheumdis-2014.



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