by Aidan Goggins
For years official advice on how best to protect yourself from heart disease has been wonderfully simplistic: high levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol are the major cause, so cut your risk by lowering LDL cholesterol production as much as possible with statin drugs.
Now it turns out that this advice was wrong. Not just according to long-term statin critics but it’s admitted by drug companies themselves. (See: “Cholesterol: I’ve never been wrong so fast or so right” by Dr Malcolm Kendrick.) The impetus for the change is that patents on statins have nearly all expired, drastically lowering drug company income, so a new range of expensive drugs to protect us from heart disease is lining up on the launch pad.
But the reasons given for why you should take them are rather different from the story about heart disease we were spun to explain why we should use statins first time around. And that should make you very suspicious.
Driving down cholesterol is out and instead we have to be worried about quite different factors – the combination of high levels of fats in the blood and low levels of the “good” cholesterol HDL. The challenge for the drug companies is that statins have little effect on either.
As low as you can go
To get them out of this bind they have had to turn to that old favourite of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) – omega 3 fish oil. Hardly considered a proper medicine until suddenly it is combined with a drug.
This is how it happened
The old view went something like this. Statins, depending on the type and dose, reduce LDL cholesterol 20-50%  and for every 1.0 mmol/L (38.6 mg/dL) reduction in LDL cholesterol, there is approximately a one fifth reduction in coronary heart disease . These apparently impressive stats have encouraged medical practitioners to embrace an “as low as you can go” approach; to put an increasing number of people on these drugs. If the official formula for calculating your risk defined yours as high then the advice was to aim for an LDL cholesterol of 1.8 mmol/L  and if you couldn’t reach that on a low dose statin then you should switch to a high dose one.
This result of this protocol was disastrous. Since only 8% of the population hit that target naturally that means 92% of the population were potentially eligible  and once you got over fifty, everyone was automatically in line for a prescription  because simply getting older raised your risk rating. Currently 1 in 4 American over the age 45 take a statin, that’s a tenfold increase over 14 years. At this point the boundaries between preventative medicine and medicating society have virtually disappeared and mass drugging has become official policy.