Have we been deceived about cholesterol lowering drugs?
A new analysis of studies suggests cholesterol lowering drugs known as statins may not be as effective for preventing heart attack and stroke as we have been lead to believe. According to an expert review, the drugs do lower cholesterol. But claims about how well the drugs prevent heart disease have been exaggerated.
Dr. David M. Diamond, a professor of psychology, molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida, and Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, an independent health researcher and an expert in cholesterol and cardiovascular disease say studies about statins fail to take into account serious side effects.
Claims about the effectiveness of cholesterol lowering drugs have been exaggerated, the study authors contend.
Diamond and Ravnskov say researchers use a type of deception when presenting data to the public that uses "relative risk" to stratify outcomes of statin drug trials.
"In the Jupiter trial, the public and healthcare workers were informed of a 54 percent reduction in heart attacks, when the actual effect in reduction of coronary events was less than 1 percentage point," the health researchers note in a press release.
The study review appears in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology.
They also point out that low cholesterol has been linked to cancer but drug trials usually end in two to five years, before cancer develops.
The analysis of studies carried out by the researchers found the benefits of taking statins is "trivial". Diamond and Ravnskov say advocates of the medications have used deception to make the drugs appear to be effective for improving cardiovascular disease outcomes.
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