Drugs used to treat preventable diseases carry serious risks (Part 1 - statins)

Never forget, you don’t get something for nothing when it comes to medications. All medications have side effects, most of them potentially serious.Typically a drug has to be on the market for many years to discern all the long-term risks. News has exposed serious adverse effects of two types of drugs that are used to treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure – statins and angiotensin receptor blockers.  The pharmaceutical industry performing their own “research” has a long and consistent record of covering up discovered dangers of their products and embellishing the advantages. Of course, physicians also give the impression that drugs are necessary, when in fact they are not. 

Pill bottle

 

1. Statins – cholesterol-lowering drugs

Researchers examined medical records of over 2 million statin users in England and Wales in order to quantify side effects during the first 5 years of statin use.

The conditions that were found to be associated with statin use were:

  • Moderate to serious liver dysfunction
  • Acute renal failure
  • Moderate to serious myopathy (impaired muscle function)
  • Cataracts1

Statins have also been linked to increased diabetes risk in another recent study.

Statins, which block a key enzyme in the body’s production of cholesterol, are the most widely prescribed class of drugs in the U.S. Statin use is growing, and will expand even to those who do not have elevated LDL levels, based on the drug-company funded JUPITER study.2 More widespread statin use will continue to give Americans a false sense of security, that they are protected from cardiovascular disease when they are only treating a single symptom. Only excellent nutrition, not drugs, can provide complete protection against heart disease. With widespread use of statins, the nutritional causes of heart disease are not addressed, and a significant number of liver dysfunction, renal failure, myopathy, and cataract cases will be produced. The authors of the statin adverse effect study stressed that physicians should weigh the possible risks and benefits before placing someone on a statin. But since it is rare that a person (on a nutritarian diet) would actually require a statin, realistically the benefits do not weigh heavily. These adverse effects are simply unacceptable when the alternative to these drugs is a nutrient-dense diet and exercise, treatments with only positive side effects.

 

References:

1. Hippisley-Cox J, Coupland C. Unintended effects of statins in men and women in England and Wales: population based cohort study using the QResearch database. BMJ 2010 May 20;340:c2197.

2. Spatz ES et al. From here to JUPITER: identifying new patients for statin therapy using data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2009 Jan;2(1):41-8.

Interview with a Nutritarian: Mike

Recently Mike posted a thread titled, “Down 10 pant sizes!” on the member center of DrFuhrman.com.  I asked him if he’d be willing to be interviewed on Onlyourhealth to inspire others to get their health back also, and he graciously obliged to share his story.  Not only did he drop pants sizes, but also his bottles of medications.  Welcome to Onlyourhealth, Mike!   

before after pics of male nutritarian

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?

Due to unhealthy eating habits, including eating out too much, I had been getting heavier and slowing down with each passing birthday. At age forty I weighed 165 lbs; at fifty I weighed 195 lbs; and at sixty I weighed 215 lbs.  I’d always been active at playing golf, surf fishing and cycling.  However, the extra weight made a walk around the golf course an adventure, surf fish very tiring, and small hills on bike rides seemed like pedaling the Alps.  I was also getting tired at work and needed stimulants to make it through the second part of each day. I was a fixture at the local chocolate shop as I needed a shot of chocolate to get me through the afternoons.
 
I was scared because I started having chest pains while climbing stairs, hiking hills on the golf course, and in stressful situations. One day I encountered difficulty swallowing, followed by chest pains which landed me in the hospital. I ducked a heart attack, but tests revealed that my left descending lower artery was 50% blocked so they started me on aspirin, blood pressure meds and statins.


How did you find out about ETL?

I’d given up smoking in the mid 80’s and tried Pritkin, McDougall, and a few others to get healthy, but they required a lot of food preparation so I eventually quit following them.  When I got home from the hospital, I wanted to see if there was anything “new” on the market for healthy eating so I scoured the book section of the local health food store and discovered The China Study and Eat to LiveEat to Live was just what I was looking for: simple to shop for and prepare, with very little clean up.  This was perfect for me as I worked and wanted to be able to do most of the shopping, prep and cleaning myself. 

I visited Dr. Fuhrman for the first time in January 2009.  After I was weighed and measured (including my waist size and level of nutrients in my body), he clearly explained to me that I needed to follow the “straight and narrow” and lose a lot of weight pronto, or else suffer the consequences.  He told me that the extra fat on my mid section was probably as much responsible for my artery blockage as my cholesterol, because that fat produces plaque; an important reason not to be overweight!  I decided to listen to Dr. Fuhrman as he made a lot more sense to me than the cardiologist who was only interested in my cholesterol and blood pressure. 

 

How do you feel now?

ETL has given me 10 to 15 years of my life back!  I’m now off of all meds (statins and blood pressure lowering meds), and I feel better, look better, and think better than ever before; plus, I have the additional confidence that I’ll live a long and healthy life devoid of needing to see a cardiologist again!  I also don’t have to worry about developing diabetes (it runs in my family) or having a stroke, and eating lots of cruciferous vegetables, fruits and beans greatly reduces my risk of getting cancer. From a mental perspective this is huge as I’m a big believer that actively doing something is akin to moving forward under fire, and increases confidence and outlook on life. 

[At age 63, Mike recently finished a 102 mile bike ride in 6:10; and over Memorial Day weekend he completed a sixty mile ride with an “A” team of cyclists, and was able to hang with the group for the entire time.  He finds this to be unbelievable, because two years ago he was afraid to ride to with “C” cyclists, because he didn’t think that he could keep up with them.  Now he’s approached by some of the top riders and asked, “What’s the name of that book you told me about?”!]

 

 

before

now

Weight

216 lbs

158 lbs

Waist measurement

  43”

  33”

Blood pressure

145/90 (with meds)

115/70 (no meds)

Cholesterol

165 (105/35 ratio)

125 (60/45 ratio)

 

Do you have any success tip(s) to share with others?

Nutritarian eating is a simple and healthful way to eat that combats all major and chronic diseases killing modern man . . . so go for it!  You won’t be sorry!
 
Also, when I first read Dr. Fuhrman’s claims, and even after I’d met him, I wasn’t so sure if I was being taken as it seemed too simple: Greens to the rescue? No meds? No fancy formulas?  All these things sounded too good to be true, but I found everything to be true! 

Don’t wait for fear of a heart attack to be motivated to change!

 

Congratulations Mike ~ we applaud you for getting your health back!

Nuts and cholesterol

Nuts have been consistently associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease in epidemiological studies.1 Evidence of nuts’ cardioprotective effects were originally recognized in the early 1990s2, and since then, several human trials have documented improvements in lipid levels in response to including nuts in the diet.3 Beneficial cardiovascular effects beyond cholesterol lowering have also been identified, particularly for walnuts and almonds.

A review published in Archives of Internal Medicine pooled the data from 25 different clinical studies that ran for a minimum of three weeks, comparing a nut eating group to a control group. Most of the studies were done on walnuts or almonds, but studies on macadamias, pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, and peanuts were also included in the analysis.4,5

This review confirmed that nut consumption has beneficial effects on lipid levels,  and it also reached two interesting new conclusions: 

1. Dose dependent effect

First, the different studies were on different quantities of nuts, and the review concluded that the cholesterol-lowering effects of nuts are dose-dependent – this means that more nuts consumed translated into greater decreases in LDL and total cholesterol:

Quantity of nuts consumed

Decrease in total cholesterol

Decrease in LDL

1 oz.

2.8%

4.2%

1.5 oz.

3.2%

4.9%

2.4 oz.

5.1%

7.4%

For healthy weight individuals, these results suggest that 2.4 ounces may be better than 1 ounce for cardiovascular health.4,5

2. Effects were greater in individuals with lower BMI

The researchers found that body mass index (BMI) modified the association between nut consumption and cholesterol lowering. The effects of nuts were greater in individuals with lower BMI, meaning that those who were overweight or obese saw less cholesterol-lowering benefit than healthy weight individuals.4,5

Nuts and seeds are critical components of a disease-preventing diet, and I recommend eating them daily. However, I also recommend a limit of 1 ounce of nuts and seeds per day for individuals who are overweight. The results of this study support my recommendations. For those that are overweight, nuts are beneficial, but weight loss is even more important. The primary means of decreasing cardiovascular risk in overweight individuals should be eating lots of high micronutrient, low calorie foods. For people significantly overweight, nuts should still be included, but their caloric density suggests a limit such as 1 ounce per day for women and 1.5 ounces a day for men.

Wondering how many nuts are in a 1 ounce serving? The International Tree Nut Council’s website provides a guide to 1 ounce serving sizes of several different nuts.


References:

1. Sabaté J, Ang Y. Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1643S-1648S.

2. Fraser GE, Sabate J, BeesonWL, Strahan TM. A Possible Protective Effect of Nut Consumption on Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Adventist Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 1992;152(7):1416-1424.

3. Griel AE, Kris-Etherton PM. Tree nuts and the lipid profile: a review of clinical studies. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S68-78.

4. Sabaté J, Oda K, Ros E. Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med. 2010 May 10;170(9):821-7.

Eurekalert! Eating nuts associated with improvements in cholesterol levels: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-05/jaaj-ena050610.php