Women and Statins

This post is dedicated to my mom and she is the reason I’m blogging about this subject today.

Statins make money. Lipitor is the biggest one. Just go to the following site and see;

http://www.drugs.com/top200.html

You can look back to 2003. Lipitor was on top every single year until 2010 when Nexium, a drug used for acid reflux, finally dominated. I write this post because Lipitor is going generic very soon. Nov 30 2011 and the patent expires, meaning other companies can finally start bringing atorvastatin (the generic name of the drug) to market. I’m not a fan of statins and because of this new development I felt it was time to say something about it.

Here’s a quick note about cholesterol. Cholesterol isn’t bad. it is vitally important for everything to function properly in your body. Period. Hormones, nerve conduction, cell membranes (the things that are essentially the wall of every cell) etc. cannot function properly without cholesterol. If you disagree with this you know nothing about anatomy and physiology or are paid way too much by the drug companies. Cholesterol is carried around in the blood by small particles called lipoproteins. Since cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in water, which is a good percentage of what the blood is made of, the body needs another mode of transport. Lipoproteins and proteins that also contain things like fatty acids and antioxidants and carry cholesterol around inside of them. It is the measurement of these particles that typically are referred to when someone says they have and LDL of 150.

Atorvastatin is a potent statin. It lowers LDL in the body about the same as simvastatin but at half the dose and 10x the price. The NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program) recommends an LDL level of ≤160mg/dL. Total cholesterol levels should be less than 200. Meh.

Ladies, cholesterol is good for you! That’s right cholesterol is good for you. Anthony Colpo, an independent researcher and trainer, discusses the results of a trial at his website here. The link to the study can be found at his website or here. I also highly recommend Anthony’s book The Great Cholesterol Con for additional information about cholesterol and you. It is an incredibly well researched book.

This study showed that as women age they tend have decreased all cause death risk from increased cholesterol and trended the same way for CHD mortality risk. For men it seemed to follow a U-shape curve meaning that you don’t want you cholesterol too high or too low.

This backs what some other studies have showed, that LDL is not the boogy man that everyone makes it out to be, especially in you ladies. A meta-analysis (a study looking at a bunch of studies to get a better picture of what they all mean) was done looking at women and cholesterol reduction. The study reported the following, “For the trials reporting total mortality, lipid lowering did not appear to have a beneficial effect for women with or without previous cardiovascular disease over the 2.8- to 6-year study period in the available trials”.¹ They of course said that they probably needed more time and older women to show any benefit for overall mortality. So if you are a women and do have or do not have cardiovascular disease, your going to die either way. Surprise! Now they did show reductions for women who have history of cardiovascular disease for non-fatal MI’s, CHD events, and revascularization, but your still going to die, just probably not of a heart attack.

How does atorvastatin tie in to all of this. Soon insurance companies are going to be more likely to cover the drug once the price comes down. Some times docs will choose atorvastatin over simvastatin or pravastatin because of its ability to lower LDL so much. With the price reduction some doctors may feel they should just put it on the regimen for a woman whose cholesterol levels are over 200. I don’t think this necessary. I believe there are other ways to manage cardiovascular risk that leaves your cholesterol to do what it’s supposed to do.

Ladies if you have a family history of CHD start looking at you diet and activity levels. Are you filling your mouths full of refined grains and/or vegetable oils? If you are then stop. Do you need to lose some weight? Then do it. For you diabetics out there, find whole foods that help control your blood sugar. With time, diet and the right kind of exercise, you can and should be able to reduce the need for medication. I counsel people daily about the need to get simple things out of their life (corn oil, daily soda drinks and junk food etc.) and get good simple things INTO their lives like rest, good exercise and whole foods. I also recommend Coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinol for many people taking or not taking medication. It is a great supplement with documented heart health benefits. We’ll have to discuss that one in another post.

If yoga grandma can do it, so can you!

So ladies, if your doctor wants to put you on atorvastatin, especially now that it is going to be generic, ask him about these studies and see what happens. I think education is a great tool and knowledge is readily available. Use the internet to access primary articles and learn how to read them. Ask questions constantly. Knowledge ceases when one stops asking and the mind begins to dull.

Ciao

The Brute

1.Walsh JM, Pignone M. Drug Treatment of Hyperlipidemia in Women. JAMA. 2004; 291 (18): 2243-52

Disclaimer: All info on this website is for education purposes only. Any dietary or lifestyle changes that readers want to make should be done with the guidance of a competent medical practitioner. The author assumes no responsibility nor liability  for the use or dissemination of this information. Anyone who chooses to apply this information for their own personal use does so at their own risk.

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