Let's be clear: drug companies love medications. Lobbyists in Washington love medications. Even many of our doctors love medications. Why? Because making and selling medications is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Are all medications bad? No, certainly not. Modern medicine has many life-saving benefits. This includes better technology and medications that treat a variety of illnesses. I'm not here to demonize prescription drugs. There are situations when the use of medication is completely appropriate.
But we all know what happens at the end of a drug commercial. The voice-over person begins talking a mile a minute, spewing out a long list of side-effects. They talk so fast that we can barely understand them.
…and we all know why.
Medications come with side effects. Many of these side effects are severe and dangerous. Yet people are so quick to take medications because it seems like the "easy" and "simple" fix to a health problem. Often, their doctors and the media encourage them to do it. But think about the risky side effects of these medications--suddenly the use of prescription drugs seems far less easy or simple.
Let's look at one of the most popular prescription drugs available statins. US sales of statins reach up to $20 billion every year. Almost 25% of Americans between the ages of 40 to 75 currently take statins. That's nearly 25 million people. And with new guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA), there could be as many as 56 million people on statins in the near future. AHA guidelines on who "should" take statins include people who already have heart disease, diabetes, and/or high cholesterol.
What are statins exactly? Statins lower your LDL (or "bad") cholesterol, a compound in your blood. In the past, LDL cholesterol has been linked with "artery-clogging" plaque, which may cause heart disease. For years, drugs like Lipitor and Crestor have been given to treat and prevent heart disease. The idea is that by lowering bad cholesterol, you lower the risk of sticky plaque build-up, which decreases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
But here's what your doctor may not be telling you: studies show that high cholesterol is not the main cause of heart disease or plaque build-up in the arteries. In fact, half of all heart attacks occur in people who already have low cholesterol. The main cause of heart disease actually seems to be inflammation. Inflammation is caused by several things...and eating too much sugar is the number one cause.
There's more about statins that mainstream media doesn't want you to know:
- Statins actually increase your chances of developing diabetes.
- Statins can cause memory loss, sexual dysfunction, cataracts, liver problems, muscle fatigue …and even cancer.
- While statins may decrease heart attacks and strokes in some people, it's probably because statins are anti-inflammatory. Not really because they lower cholesterol.
- You know what else reduces inflammation in the body and doesn't have tons of nasty side effects? Simple and healthy lifestyle habits.
I don't know about you, but I have questions about all this conflicting information. If high cholesterol isn't the main cause of heart disease, then why do so many doctors prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs? Why bother dealing with the nasty side effects when there are healthier and safer ways to prevent heart attacks and strokes? There are some people who can benefit from statins. But is it really necessary or even safe for as many as one in four adults to take these drugs?
The bottom line about statins, heart disease, and your health:
- Statin drugs, like Lipitor and Crestor, have a lot of nasty side effects.
- The AHA recommends over half of adults older than 40 "should" take statins. But studies show that statins can actually be harmful.
- High cholesterol isn't the main cause of heart disease inflammation is.
- The best way to reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes is to reduce inflammation in the body...
...and the best way to reduce inflammation is to improve your lifestyle. Lower your intake of foods like sugar, grains, and dairy. Eat more vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. Get plenty of sleep, water, and vitamin D. Manage your stress better, with things like meditation and journaling. And if you smoke, quit.