The Vitamin Kid

Avoiding bad medicine and finding non-toxic treatments that actually work

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Location: Ankeny, Iowa, United States

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Cholesterol Myth 2 -- Lipitor failure hailed as success

Yesterday the New York Times online had an article about the latest attempt to justify the highest doses of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. The Times featured a new study, just released by the New England Journal of Medicine. A large population of heart patients was divided into two groups. One was given a low dose of atorvastatin (Lipitor), and the other group was given a large dose -- eight times higher, in fact -- in an attempt to push down LDL cholesterol levels as low as possible. These two groups of patients were monitored for five years.

The study is being hailed as a great success. Patients taking the higher dose of statins had 2% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or stroke. (A relative reduction in risk of about 20%.) Unfortunately, they also had a higher death rate from non-cardiovascular causes. "There was no difference between the two treatment groups in overall mortality." Somehow the New York Times omitted that information.

Two weekends ago, Jean Carper reported in her Sunday newspaper column that a Finnish study showed that daily consumption of 700mg of vitamin C (tablets, not in food) for ten years would cut the relative risk of death from heart attack by 25%. This is actually a greater reduction in the death rate than those taking the higher, more toxic dose of statin drugs in the study above.

So, you can have your choice. Take a non-toxic vitamin and reduce your risk of death by heart attack by 25%. Or take a toxic drug and reduce your risk of heart attack death by 20%, while at the same time increasing your risk of death from other causes. A no-brainer? I'd say so.


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