12 Responses to “It’s not about statins – it’s about censorship”

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  1. avatar M. Cawdery says:

    This comment was sent to the BMJ Rapid Response on statin Adverse Reactions. It was REJECTED. I am not surprised; it confirms my belief that any comment relating to the neurological adverse reactions to statins (polyneuropathy, Parkinson’s, ALS, transient global amnesia (TGA) and Alzheimer’s) is rejected while flawed articles (missing critical data on therapy, cholesterol levels and the time-line) suggesting statin benefits are regularly accepted.

    Rapid Response BMJ 29/05/2014

    I would like to draw attention to the neurological effects of statins. Pfrieger and colleagues have drawn attention to the importance of cholesterol in neuron synapse activity in a series of reports (Science. 1997 Sep 12;277(5332):1684-7; Science. 2001 Nov 9;294(5545):1354-7.; Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2002 Oct;12(5):486-90) while Muldoon and colleagues have drawn attention to reduced memory effects (Am J Med.. 2000 May. 108(7):538-46; Am J Med. 2004 Dec. 117(11):823-9).

    In particular the association between low cholesterol, Alzheimer’s (AD) and statin use concerns me. Lorin’s review published in his book “Alzheimer’s Solved” (an extensive review of some 3000+ references) associates low cholesterol with AD and statin use. The AD/PD 2009 conference raised the query – Are We Experiencing an Alzheimer’s Epidemic? Incidence Has Soared Enormously in the 85+ yr-old group from 2% in the 1960s to and expected 50% in the near future!
    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/590106

    The particular paper that raised queries was the report by Solomon and colleagues (Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2009;28:75–80). This study attempted to prove that high mid-life blood cholesterol levels were associated and causal for AD. It used data from a Kaiser Permanente cohort with updated follow-up information. The authors examined the full range of cholesterol values (not just high cholesterol, 240 mg/dl, ~6.0 mmol/L), to determine whether even moderate elevations may be associated with increased dementia risk. The data provided was extensive but excluded all data on treatment and subsequent cholesterol levels.

    Patient records without treatment data? I find that very odd; ask yourself why such data was not presented or was it simply redacted to obtain acceptance for publication?

    Tables 2-4 provide the data on which the study concludes that high mid-life cholesterol is associated with AD. However, if the row titles are replaced with guideline recommended treatment (which was not available), neither the numbers nor the statistics change but a very different interpretation can be made.

    Returning to the original Table 2 cited above, the following analysis can be performed:

    Table Showing 2 x 2 analysis (CSS) for combined AD and VaD and assuming TC values above 239 mg/dl as treated with statins. Given the official guidelines and the American paranoia regarding cholesterol this is almost certain. Added after submission to BMJ but covered in appended *pdf files in email correspondence

    Cholesterol categories No dementia %age AD + VaD %age TOTAL %age

    NO TREAT (239 mg/dl) 2932 50.31 215 3.69 3147 54.00

    Totals 5477 93.98 351 6.02 5828 100
    χ2= 7.92 p= 0.0049 i.e those patients with cholesterol level >239 mg/dl (>6 mmol/L), (and that would be treated with cholesterol lowering drugs, possibly for decades) are more likely to become demented (Alzheimer plus vascular dementia)!
    V2 = 7.91 p= 0.0049
    Phi2 = p = 0.0014

    After all the vast majority of statin takers (80-90% or 99% according to some) do not suffer adverse reactions so would continue to take them for 2-3 decades.

    This raises questions regarding the absence of subsequent cholesterol levels and therapeutic treatment during that 2-3 decades. Why was this data left out? Was it because Kaiser Permanente has to negotiate with Big Pharma on drug prices? Was it because Big Pharma would not be pleased at any association of statins with AD? The current controversy suggest that they would not.

    The most interesting aspect of Solomon’s report is that many major UK NHS Trusts probably have sufficient data over the last couple of decades to repeat Solomon’s study.

    Will it be done? I suspect not – too much money and statuses at stake!

    • avatar Zoë Harcombe says:

      Hi Mike – many thanks for sharing this here. You’re probably right on the rationale for non publication. You clearly know lots about this area. Maybe the statinators are even less prepared to admit mind problems than they are body problems. The idea that statins (the taking of which has increased dramatically) could be related to dementia/Alzheimer’s (the incidence of which has increased dramatically) must surely not be made!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  2. avatar Gill P says:

    I have downloaded the articles too.

  3. avatar Peter Lawton says:

    I’m wondering about Jane’s reported drop in cholesterol level from 6 to 3.4: is that good news, or a signal to really find out a bit more?

    • avatar Zoë Harcombe says:

      Hi Peter – cholesterol is always only ever a marker – or your word – a signal. I wouldn’t worry much
      1) because the test is so inaccurate
      2) because we don’t even know what we’re measuring 1 equation, 4 unknowns, 2 can be measured (inaccurately) = a whole lot of not much
      3) because the higher reading could have been at the end of the winter and the lower reading after sunshine? Would just reflect vit D had been made
      4) because the body makes what it needs so was the 6 at a time of injury/stress/illness – is the 3.4 not?
      5) because one could have been a fasting reading and the other not?
      There are so many factors – it can be of interest but there are many things that get in the way. I would so much rather docs ditched testing for this and spend 30 secs asking people what they eat! Can tell a lot more about how healthy they are likely to be :-)
      Best wishes – Zoe

  4. avatar Jane Serafy-nafis says:

    Had a health check today. They wanted to test my cholesterol levels and I told them that even if it was high I wouldn’t take a statin. When I last had my cholesterol tested several years ago it was around 6. Today my level was 3.4. The only thing I do differently now is eat The Harcombe diet way and have lost 18lbs and kept it off. I can therefore only conclude that eating a higher fat lower carb diet has reduced my cholesterol.

  5. avatar Jonathan Bagley says:

    Hi, I watched them both from here. I thought the presenter was outstanding – a model of clarity. The programmes were excellent compared to what we now get. Sugar v fat, for example.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdQaWWlTEnY#t=49
    It’s possible to stop the way back machine form recording web pages, but once it has them, they are there for eternity, or perhaps not. It will be useful to know.

  6. avatar Clinical Trial Data says:

    Hi Zoe,

    Thanks for your article. You might remember in the Catalyst Part 2 episode on statins that Maryanne concluded her presentation with these words…

    “Until the science of clinical trials can break free from commercial interest, then decisions about our health rest in the hands of big business.”

    You might be interested in a report that was recently presented to the U.K ‘House of Commons-Committee of Public Accounts’ regarding access to clinical trial information. It’s informative reading & a link to the report is below.

    Report – Access to Clinical Trial Information;
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubacc/295/295.pdf

    Thanks again for your article.

  7. avatar George Henderson says:

    This is excellent Zoe. I don’t think this clumsy censorship will help sell statins in the long run. Imagine how useful drugs could be if they weren’t overprescribed to take in as much money as possible. Is there any drug, other than vaccines, that really works for primary prevention?
    I have linked to this post, Dr Malhotra’s Independent interview, and Uffe Ravnskov’s analysis of the Catalyst complaints here: http://hopefulgeranium.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/uffe-ravnskoff-zoe-harcombe-and-aseem.html

    Uffe quotes this draw-dropping statement from one of the complaints – “It was mentioned that those molecules which contain long chains of single carbon bonds are more stable than those containing numerous double bonded carbon groups. Students doing high-school chemistry will be able to tell you the fault in this statement.”
    ‘Nuff said.

  8. avatar Kate Holland says:

    I love you! Keep the information highway clear of misconceptions!

  9. avatar Ash Simmonds says:

    The Catalyst videos are still available on Dr Eades’s Vimeo channel:

    –> http://vimeo.com/user22097885

    I also downloaded them back then in case they were pulled, but not willing to put them on a public youtube as I don’t want my account suspended for copyright or whatever.

    Plus, I kept a copy of the transcript here:

    –> http://highsteaks.com/forum/health-nutrition-and-science/health-and-nutrition-sanity-media-237.msg1077.html#msg1077

    • avatar Zoë Harcombe says:

      Many thanks for this Ash – hopefully it will be difficult to censor the internet! It’s just pretty evil to try…

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