Over-the-Counter Statins?

I guess the news about the “ideal cholesterol” level is fueling this fire. Merck really-really wants the FDA to approve the first-ever over-the-counter statin. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports:
For the third time in seven years, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has been asked to recommend making Merck & Co.'s statin drug Mevacor available over the counter.


But with groups such as the American Medical Association, Public Citizen and Consumers Union lined up against it, experts think Merck's proposal is likely to be rejected once again when the panel meets on Thursday.

"The third time is not the charm," said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "It's time to move on."

Merck's proposal is being presented to a joint meeting of the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and its Endocrinology and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee. The FDA does not have to follow the advice of its advisory panels, but it usually does.
I mentioned it the other day, but it bears repeating. Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of statins, especially their side-effects. He points them out in his book Cholesterol Protection for Life, check it out:
The known side effects for various statins include hepatitis, jaundice, other liver problems, gastrointestinal upsets, muscle problems and a variety of blood complications such as reduced platelet levels and anemia.
In general, Dr. Fuhrman feels doctors should not be too quick to prescribe medications for diseases and conditions that can be treated without. He explains why:
In the first pharmacology lecture that I head in medical school, the physician impressed on us that all drugs are toxic and we should never forget this. We were taught that medications work because of their pharmacologic properties—properties that enable the substance to interfere with, block, or stimulate an activity of the body. Drugs typically modify the way the body expresses the signs and symptoms of disease, but in chronic disease states, they do no undo the damage or remove the disease.
Unfortunately our society suffers from magic pill syndrome. So I doubt this will resonate.

Ideal Cholesterol 199?

Alright, I’m convinced. This nation has gone loony-tunes! First, New Jersey went off the deep end with mandatory flu injections, and now, a new government report insists that a total cholesterol level of 199 is ideal. What! Mike Stobbe of Associated Press reports:
Results from a national blood test survey found the average total cholesterol level was 199. Doctors like patients to have total cholesterol readings of 200 or lower…


…The survey collects data in two-year intervals. The new results are based on a national sample of about 4,500 people 20 and older from 2005-06. The new 199 level compares with 204 in 1999-2000…

…Researchers also found that the percentage of adults with high cholesterol, of 240 or higher, dropped to 16 percent, down from 20 percent in the early 1990s.
The report cites the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs as the main reason for the reduction. Yeah—because that’s a good! In case you forgot, Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of using medicine to lower cholesterol. Take statins for example:
When resorting to medical intervention, rather than dietary modifications, other problems arise, reducing the potential reduction in mortality possible, as these individuals are at risk of serious side effects from the medication. The known side effects for various statins (the most popular and effective medications to lower cholesterol) include hepatitis, jaundice, other liver problems, gastrointestinal upsets, muscle problems and a variety of blood complications such as reduced platelet levels and anemia.
But what about this “ideal” cholesterol level, is a score of 199 really healthy? Okay, you decide. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman discusses the cholesterol levels of populations consuming a plant-based diet. Here’s an excerpt:
A vegetable, fruit, nut, and bean-based diet has been shown to be the most effective cholesterol-lowering dietary approach in medical history. This newsworthy data with the potential to save millions of lives has been ignored by the mass media. With this dietary approach, most patients drop their total cholesterol below 150 and LDL below 100, without the need for medications. In areas of the world where people eat a diet of unrefined plant foods, people have total cholesterol levels below 150, and there is zero incidence of heart disease in the population.1
I guess if you’re consuming the standard American diet 199 is healthy—relatively speaking—it’s probably a miracle you’re surviving at all. Okay, let’s cut to the case. Here are the total cholesterols levels of people following Dr. Fuhrman’s nutrient-dense diet. Look:
These are numbers worth bragging about! Dr. Fuhrman will tell you himself, flirting with a total cholesterol number around 200 is by no means ideal. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman explains the lower your cholesterol, the better! From Can Cholesterol Be Too Low:
Typically, those individuals promoting the myth that low cholesterol levels are dangerous and the topsy-turvey "science" that saturated fat and high cholesterol are not bad, but good, are those individuals and health advisors advocating diets high in animal products, such as the Atkins devotees. Unfortunately, this advice is not merely incorrect; it is dead wrong for hundreds of individuals who heed such dangerous advice and die of heart attacks every day.


When it comes to coronary artery disease, there may be no such thing as lowering total blood cholesterol levels too far. Another recent study, published in the journal Circulation, found that the arteries in male patients with a total cholesterol level as low as 155 mg/dl benefited significantly from cholesterol-lowering medication as well.1 Both regression of atherosclerosis and a dramatic reduction in heart attacks were seen in the group treated.

While some research in the past has raised questions about the safety of very low cholesterol levels, no danger has been proven in larger, more dependable investigations.
So, in the event that someone—so overjoyed by their 199 score—decides to streak gleefully naked down your street. Politely hand them a towel and a copy of Eat to Live.
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Fat Ballin'

“Bulking up is dangerous to one's longevity,” Dr. Fuhrman replied when I asked him about the immense size of football players, “Linebackers often eat in a way that radically shortens their lives.” And it’s starting younger and younger. Check out this New York Times report:

Two studies this year, one published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and another in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that weight problems among high school football players — especially linemen — far outpaced those of other male children and adolescents.


Now coaches and researchers fear that some young athletes may be endangering their health in an effort to reach massive proportions and attract the attention of college recruiters…

…Another study of 650 football players in Michigan youth leagues from ages 9 to 14, published last month in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that 45 percent were overweight or obese, with the problem more prevalent among linemen, who are typically the biggest players on the team.

“That’s staggering,” said Robert M. Malina, a professor emeritus of kinesiology at Texas and the lead author of the Michigan study. “Youngsters are already being rewarded for being big and overweight before playing big-time football.”
It’s sad if you ask me, but, I don’t blame the kids. I blame the league. They must redirect the trend! Encourage teams to stress athleticism and speed and not motionless mountainous size. That’s why my favorite NFL players are guys like this:

Terrell Owens

Dallas Cowboys
Height: 6-3 Weight: 218 Age: 33


Bob Sanders

Indianapolis Colts
Height: 5-8 Weight: 206 Age: 26



Torry Holt
St. Louis Rams
Height: 6-0 Weight: 190 Age: 31


Rodney Harrison
New England Patriots
Height: 6-1 Weight: 220 Age: 34
These dudes are lean, quick, and agile. They’re not massive. They’re functionally or “deceptively strong.” That’s my fitness goal. Not to be Goliath, but rather, a fit and healthy David. Especially since, as Dr. Fuhrman points out, leaner people live longer. From Eat to Live:
In the Nurses Health Study, researchers examined the association between body mass index and overall mortality and mortality from specific causes in more than 100,000 women. After limiting the analysis to nonsmokers, it was very clear that the longest-lived women were the leanest.1 The researchers concluded that the increasingly permissive U.S. weight guidelines are unjustified and potentially harmful…


…Dr. I-Min Lee, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said her twenty-seven-year study of 19,297 men found there was no such thing as being too thin. Among men who never smoked, the lowest mortality occurred in the lightest fifth.2 Those who were in the thinnest 20 percent in the early 1960s were two and a half times less likely to have died of cardiovascular disease by 1988 than those in the heaviest fifth. Overall, the thinnest were two–thirds more likely to be alive in 1988 than the heaviest. Lee stated, “We observed a direct relationship between body weight and mortality. By that I mean that the thinnest fifth of men experienced the lowest mortality, and mortality increased progressively with heavier and heavier weight.”
Hopefully aspiring football players and the NFL awake up and put the health and longevity of athletes ahead of winning championships.