View Full Version : Why Lowering Cholesterol May Not Lower the Risk of Death

11th July 2012, 12:53 AM
Unfortunately, these scientists seemed to have short-term memory loss. Just three short years ago in 2007, another new “wonder” drug from Pfizer (torcetrapib) which worked on the same mechanism that anacetrapib does, was found to dramatically lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol, just like this new drug from Merck. There was only one small problem—in those taking the drug, deaths from heart attacks increased 25 percent, deaths from heart disease increased 40 percent and overall deaths increased 200 percent.(ii) After spending $800 million in development Pfizer had to walk away from the drug. Oops. How can a drug that does all the right things (dramatically lowering bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol) actually cause MORE heart disease and deaths?

The answer is simple. Drugs don’t treat the underlying causes of chronic illness. It is not our genes which haven’t changed much in 20,000 years, although they may predispose us to environmental and lifestyle triggers of illness. The causes of chronic disease are rooted in what we eat, how much we move, how we face stress, how connected we are to our communities and toxic chemicals and metals in our environment.

A wry editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine many years ago remarked that doctors should use new drugs as soon as they come on the market before side effects develop. Perhaps that’s what the authors of this study are proposing we do with anacetrapib.

At best this new “super cholesterol” drug by will lower cholesterol numbers without killing too many people while increasing health care costs by billions of dollars as millions of new prescriptions are written for this new “super cholesterol drug.” Worse it may end up in the same garbage dump Pfizer’s drug from 3 years ago did. Even worse scenarios exist … and the reason is startling simple …

These drugs do not address the fundamental underlying cause of heart disease. Heart disease is not a Lipitor or Crestor or even an “anacetrapib” deficiency. It is a complex end result of multiple factors driven by our diet, fitness level, stress and other lifestyle factors such as smoking, social connections, and, increasingly, environmental toxins. Taking a pill won’t fix these problems that push our biology steadily along the trajectory of disease. The idea of putting statins at the check out counter of MacDonald’s is the epitome of reductionist thinking. The problem isn’t cholesterol–it’s all the stuff we are putting our mouths!

Jim, my patient is a perfect example of how doctors treat the symptoms, not the cause of disease. As I have written about in a previous blog, most doctors focus on the wrong target for preventing and treating heart disease. Abnormal cholesterol levels are just a downstream problem that is mostly a result of “diabesity” or the continuum of blood sugar and insulin imbalances that range from pre-diabetes to full-blown end stage diabetes. Taking a statin or a CETP inhibitor cannot reverse this change in our biology. We cannot use a drug to correct what happens to our biology because of a high sugar and refined flour, low fiber, processed diet, a sedentary lifestyle, excessive stress, lack of sleep or the harmful effects of pollution.

Let’s take a closer look at Jim. On 10 mg of Crestor, the most powerful statin on the market, his total cholesterol was a beautiful 173, and his LDL was a respectable 101. But the good news ended there. His triglycerides were 176 (normal is less than 100), and his HDL was 37 (normal is greater than 50).

Jim’s number belie a deeper truth about cholesterol that most conventional doctors are ignoring today: Given the current state of scientific understanding, the cholesterol numbers doctors measure today are increasingly irrelevant.

source - Mark Hyman, MD