The Effects Of Lowering LDL Cholesterol With Statin Therapy In People At Low Risk Of Vascular Disease: Meta-analysis Of Individual Data From 27 Randomised Trials, The Lancet, 17 May 2012
"In individuals with 5-year risk of major vascular events lower than 10%, each 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol produced an absolute reduction in major vascular events of about 11 per 1000 over 5 years. This benefit greatly exceeds any known hazards of statin therapy. Under present guidelines, such individuals would not typically be regarded as suitable for LDL-lowering statin therapy. The present report suggests, therefore, that these guidelines might need to be reconsidered."This would be a coup for drug makers.
Do statins really provide benefit for someone at low risk of heart disease? One of the study's coauthors, Colin Baigent, admits:1
"Once you get down to very low levels of risk, the benefits are very small."If you're thinking of giving statins to healthy people, why study diseased people? (60% of these participants had vascular disease.)
"Why combine people who have heart disease with people who don't? It's really misleading," says Kausik Ray, a cardiologist at Saint George's University of London. In 2010 Ray and his colleagues published a meta-analysis of 11 statin clinical trials involving 65,229 subjects without cardiovascular disease and concluded that statins do not reduce the risk of death in healthy people. (By including people who had vascular disease, the Lancet meta-analysis overestimated statins' benefits.)"Documented side effects include strokes, muscle damage, diabetes, liver problems, kidney failure, and cognitive impairment. How well did this study account for side effects?
"According to Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and chief editor of the Archives of Internal Medicine, prior to the start of one of the trials included in the analysis, potential subjects were given statins for several weeks to see how well they tolerated them. If any individuals experienced side effects, they weren't invited into the trial. This type of prescreening is "not clean science," says Vinay Prasad, an internist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, because it makes drugs look safer than they really are."Any corruption in the research?
"Almost all of the trials included in the meta-analysis were funded in part by pharmaceutical companies. ... A 2003 study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that trials funded by drug companies are more likely to report favorable results about their products than are trials funded by independent organizations."Rita Redberg, chief editor of the Archives of Internal Medicine, said:
"There are a lot of people taking statins who are not getting any benefits from them, and they're subject to a lot of adverse events."They're going to be putting statins in the water soon.