You can eat McDonald’s every day of the week. So long as they offer complimentary statins along with the ketchup and condiments.
It sounds like a joke. But it’s a serious proposal from a recent U.K. study. And since its publication… plenty of U.S. doctors are supporting it.
The proposal genuinely states that you can enjoy a burger and milk shake. So long as you pop a statin afterwards. In fact… it even states that the benefits of the statin outweigh the negatives of the meal.
And while the proposal seems ludicrous… it’s served its purpose. It’s made headlines all around the Western world.
Your first reaction may be that it’s a PR stunt by the fast food industry. In fact, that’s what you’re supposed to think. But they’re not the ones who paid for the study. And they’re not the ones who stand to gain from it. If anything… they’re the butt of the joke. The people who stand to gain the most are the statin makers.
The real point of the study – and all the ensuing press – is to promote the wonders of statin meds. And while it’s unlikely that statins are going to appear at a MacDonald’s any time soon… the intended message is clear: That statins are a miracle drug for your heart.
But that’s not actually the case. A deeper review shows that statin drugs don’t actually do much good at all. And stop you from taking real action to combat heart disease.
We separate the stories from the headlines. Investigate the truth behind statins. And deliver real advice on how to strengthen your heart.
Study Means Business
The study was headed up by Dr. Darrel Francis from the Imperial College, London. His findings – reading like a collection of sound bites – were published in the American Journal of Cardiology.
You might think that such a well-publicized study was the result of lab tests and clinical trials. But Dr. Francis and his team simply reviewed previous studies. More specifically… they hand-selected studies that promoted the benefits of statin drugs. And other studies which supported the dangers of eating cholesterol.
Dr. Francis drew his conclusions from there, using logarithms, median values, tariffs, and many other number-crunching and fact-jockeying methods:
“We conclude that the safety record of statins is better than that of fast foods, which carry cardiovascular [and] other risks due to obesity.”
Through further manipulation, he concludes that a person can enjoy a cheese burger and milk shake. Just so long as they pop a statin afterwards. If they do that they’ll be in better health. How’s that possible? Because the positive figures supporting statin benefits outweigh the negative figures associated with eating specific fast foods. This kind of numerical logic defines the whole study.
“It’s ironic that people are free to take as many unhealthy condiments in fast food outlets as they like,” says Dr. Francis. “But statins, which are beneficial to heart health, have to be prescribed.”
Dr. Francis, always keen on numbers, connects his proposal to the financial bottom line.
“It makes sense to make risk-reducing supplements available just as easily as condiments,” says Dr. Francis. “It would cost less than 5p per customer. Not much different to a sachet of ketchup.”
And Dr. Francis’s recommendations don’t end with his study. Acting like a good spokesman, he’s issued further press releases promoting statins:
“Taking a statin is a rational way of lowering the risks of eating a fatty meal.”
Who’s Really Behind the PR Campaign?
The study was funded by the British Heart Association (BHF). A careful review shows that the BHF is committed to statin drugs. They think statins are so good, everyone should be taking them! Literally… with or without heart problems.
The previous year they published a paper which suggested “statins could be useful for everyone, whether they have the symptoms of heart disease or not.”
And the year before that they came to the support of statins again, when reports of dangerous side effects – linked to the drugs – began to appear.
They funded a high-profile study which discovered a novel way to increase the safety of statin drugs.
And the result of the study? The discovery “enables higher doses of statins to be safely prescribed to patients.”
The study couldn’t have come at a better time for the statin makers. That year had seen a flurry of bad press hit the statin makers… underscoring confidence in statin drugs and hurting sales.
All that bad press came out of a major study published at the beginning of that year. It revealed that a cholesterol-lowering statin drug offered no heart benefits whatsoever. It also proved that the drug did plenty of harm… actually increasing artery plaque with prolonged use. And worst of all… the drug maker had known about it for at least two years. But chose to remain silent. And in those two years pocketed $5 billion in profits.
The results didn’t just hurt statin drugs. The press was starting to ask if reducing cholesterol was a blind alley for heart health. And that’s the premise that statin drugs are built on.
Leading the Campaign
So why is the BHF so dedicated to statin drugs? Well… further research shows that statin support comes from the top. Dr. Peter Weissberg is the head of the BHF. And if you look back over the last five years… you’ll see he’s always on hand to spring to statins’ defense.
When the newspaper stories started to appear about the statin-damning study, Dr. Weissberg was ready to shout them down.
“Frankly, I wouldn’t have expected a two-year study that just looked at a marker, rather than at heart disease itself, to show anything useful,” said Dr. Weissberg. “There is no reason for people to change what they are doing.”
And he was defending them the year before too… when another study linked low cholesterol levels to increased Parkinson’s disease risk.
Just the thought that people might think twice about lowering their cholesterol levels (and therefore nixing statin drugs) sent him into a publicized panic.
“There is no evidence to suggest that statins cause Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Weissberg. “There is, however, overwhelming evidence that statins save lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes. Nobody should stop taking statins on the basis of this report. If they do, they will be putting themselves at increased risk of heart attack or stroke.”
Naturally, when Dr. Francis’s new study appeared last year, Dr. Weissberg voiced his statin support once more.
“Statins are a vital medicine for people with – or at high risk of developing – heart disease,” said Dr. Weissberg.
What’s the Link?
So why is there so much support for statins… even when there’s proof they may increase Parkinson’s risk? Dr. Michael Eades says it all comes down to money.
“If you look up Dr. Weissberg’s papers, you’ll find that most are underwritten by the makers of statins,” says Dr. Eades. “It would not be in Dr. Weissberg’s best interest for people to stop taking statins.”
Dr. Eades received his MD from the University of Arkansas. In the last 25 years he’s established a chain of metabolic clinics and continues to practice daily. He’s a New York Times best-selling medical author. He is also the editor of the peer-reviewed journal Nutrition and Metabolism.
And he’s convinced that the links between big pharma and the medical industry don’t stop with Dr. Weissberg.
“Dr. Weissberg is the head of the BHF,” says Dr. Eades. “It’s an independent funding organization that provides considerable money to research on cardiovascular disease. And it’s also funded by companies that make statins.”
Dr. Eades is not the only expert speaking out against the new study.
Zoë Harcombe is a qualified nutritionist. She graduated from Cambridge University with dual degrees in Diet and Nutrition and Clinical Weight Management. She’s a best-selling health author and researcher. She continues to serve patients daily at her own successful clinic.
She’s convinced that there’s also a financial interest at play.
“A search on Pfizer and the BHF reveals a funding relationship,” says Harcombe. “It’s small to Pfizer but useful to the BHF.”
Despite that money trail, she’s shocked by the recent study and recommendation.
“There are almost too many levels why this [study] is both horrific and irresponsible,” says Harcombe. “I am struggling to recall a more disgraceful recommendation to come from people supposedly interested in health.”
And opposition to statins does not end with homegrown critics.
John Abramson, M.D., currently serves on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He’s been in mainstream medicine for 30 years. During that time he’s run his own practice for 20 years and has been voted by his medical peers as one of the best doctors in Massachusetts. Three times in a row!
“The only reasonable conclusion from the best scientific evidence available,” says Dr. Abramson, “is that taking a statin while ignoring exercise and diet may be good for drug company profits… but is not good for your health.”
But just as some U.S. doctors are speaking out against statins… others are defending them. In fact, that new study – with its incredulous recommendations – has gained public support.
“I think they’re absolutely correct,” says Valentin Fuster, director of Mt. Sinai Heart and past president of the World Heart Federation. “We accept all these trans fats and fast foods but aren’t able to counteract those with simple methods.”
He considers “to-go” statins to be a “simple” method. One that makes more sense than exercise and healthy eating.
“The feasibility of changing behavior is very difficult,” says Fuster. “We are really failing” at it.
And he’s not the only person thinking that.
“It’s an attractive concept,” says Dr. Magnus Ohman. He’s a director of the program for advanced coronary disease at Duke University Medical Center.
However, he adds that the solution is fairly unlikely in real life. And diet and exercise are more effective than statin drugs.
He also says that one pill probably won’t do much good. But notes that the risk of side effects would also be quite small.
The Truth about Statins
Mainstream medicine tells you to cut your heart risk by lowering your cholesterol. And statin drugs are one of the most prescribed options for doing this.
But many emerging studies show that cholesterol is not really the issue.
A groundbreaking study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows poor fitness levels pose far worse health risks than elevated cholesterol.
The study looked at 25,000 men. Researchers recorded their lifestyle and exercise choices. They also tested their physical fitness through treadmill and exercise tests. They monitored their progress for a decade.
At the end of 10 years, the researchers looked at the death rate amongst them. Deaths linked to heart problems were consistently linked to the 20 percent that were least fit.
“Low fitness accounted for three times as many deaths from cardiovascular disease as did elevated cholesterol,” says Dr. Abramson.
And literally dozens of other studies show that lowering cholesterol is not that effective in combating heart disease. So if lowering cholesterol is not the best way to combat heart disease… what is?
True Remedy for Heart Health
The answer is surprisingly simple. It’s rooted in all-natural lifestyle changes. Ones that won’t cost you a dime. Or put you at any risk of side effects.
“Diet and lifestyle make the biggest difference,” says Dr. Abramson.
He notes that dozens of studies support these findings.
“All the current medical recommendations give the benefits of a healthy lifestyle just enough lip service to preempt criticism that these issues are being ignored,” says Dr. Abramson. “The end result is that patients are being distracted from what the research really shows.”
Many studies published over the last decade point to one simple conclusion.
“Physical fitness, smoking cessation, and a healthy diet trump every medical intervention,” says Dr. Abramson. “That’s the best way to keep coronary heart disease at bay.”
So what do these studies show? For a good overview check out our story that provides expert guidance on the subject here.
In a nutshell… You should be looking to eat a healthy diet. One that reduces inflammation and bodily toxins. One that is rich in omega-3 type fats. And low in omega-6 fats.
An easy way to do this is to cut out processed foods and hydrogenated oils. And stick with healthy sources of protein and animal fats.