Many people who take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol levels in order to avoid heart disease and stroke, have fallen for a great con.
This is a book review of “The Cholesterol Conspiracy,” an important work by my friend Ladd McNamara, M.D. I also include a review by Dr. Myron Wentz, founder of USANA Health Sciences. I read this book back in the 90’s, and although my doctor says I have “beautiful cholesterol,” I wanted my own copy to share with family and friends. My copy of this book is often on loan, as it is now. I encourage you to share this critical information about the myths surrounding cholesterol and the dangers of statin drugs with the people you care about.
The Cholesterol Conspiracy, 2nd Edition by Ladd McNamara, M.D. provides well over 200 medical references documenting a major underlying factor in the development of heart disease and atherosclerosis, …oxidation and inflammation. Many people are prescribed statin drugs to lower their cholesterol, and these drugs certainly lower LDL cholesterol, but at what cost, and to what benefit? It has been shown time and time again that the benefits of statin drugs are dubious, and are beneficial in only a select population of heart disease patients, not just people with high LDL cholesterol levels. Yet, doctors prescribe patients statin drugs with high LDL cholesterol as if there were no downside to these drugs at all. This book will show you otherwise.
This book is not meant to self-diagnose, self-treat, or to cause you to discontinue or change your medications. This book is for informational purposes only. It is to help you have an informed discussion with your doctor (hopefully your doctor will read the book as well, and see the medical references), so that you can come up with a plan that is best for your circumstances.
Medical studies have shown that statin drugs have a modest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect; and it is due to THIS effect they may help reduce the risk of death and stroke in a select population of patients, NOT by the lowering of LDL cholesterol. In fact, the majority of people who die from heart disease have normal levels of LDL cholesterol! That should tell you right there that lowering LDL cholesterol to normal levels is not the answer.
One major factor in maintaining heart, cholesterol, and arterial health, is to prevent oxidation. Antioxidants provide a better antioxidant effect than statin drugs, and without side-effects. Although, treatment with antioxidants are not the standard of care for the treatment of high cholesterol or heart disase, we need to be thinking about maintaining heart health and maintaining cholesterol health.
In addition, statin drugs lower the body’s co-enzyme Q10. Co-enzyme Q10 is a very important antioxdant vitamin and co-factor in the body. It is important in the production of energy for the muscles, energy for thinking, for the heart muscles, for liver functioning, etc. Statin drugs are known to cause problems. Antioxidants do not cause these problems.
In his book, Dr. Ladd McNamara makes an undeniable case, backed by medical research that the use of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids are not only safe, but effective in promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. Of even greater concern, statin drugs lower the body’s levels of co-enzyme Q10, and one cannot simply take CoQ10 to counter the effects of a statin drug, no more than a smoker can smoke two packs of cigarettes per day and undo the damage by taking vitamins.
The major concern is, why are pharmaceutical companies campaigning so hard to push the statin drugs on the population and their doctors, to lower LDL cholesterol in people with no other risk factors for heart disease, when that has not been shown to lower the risk of death from heart disease? It lowers our cholesterol levels, but it does not lower the death rate? So, what is the true goal? To feel better about our cholesterol levels and to make the pharmaceutical companies rich? That would not be so bad if we left it at that, but when it is costing people their health, and some their lives, that is when it becomes alarming!
The following is the foreword written by Dr. Myron Wentz to the Revised Second Edition of The Cholesterol Conspiracy by Ladd McNamara, M.D
When I obtained a copy of the first edition of this book I couldn’t put it down until I had finished it. With this expanded and updated edition, I feel even more strongly that the facts that Dr. Ladd McNamara has marshaled to support his argument against the use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels need to be heard by a wide audience. I am grateful that Dr. McNamara has allowed me to throw my support behind his work.
The importance of this information applies to everyone, not only people suffering from the side effects of statin drugs. Cholesterol is absolutely essential for healthy human life. In addition to being the precursor of vitamin D and all our steroid and sex hormones, cholesterol acts as a component of the immune system, and as a protective antioxidant in its own right (the subject of another book).
There is no part of the body where cholesterol does not play important roles in physiology and metabolism. Just because it is found in arterial plaques does not mean it is the cause of heart disease. Rather, cholesterol is there as a repair molecule, called on to mend damage caused by inflammation. Because you usually find firemen at the location of a fire does not mean that they started the fire. Indeed, there is mounting evidence that cholesterol is involved in preventing cardiovascular disease rather than in its development.
As Dr. Ladd McNamara points out, one of the most discouraging aspects of today’s controversy over the use of statin drugs to lower blood cholesterol is that it is virtually a replay of the tobacco “controversy” of the 1960s. Once the facts on the dangers of smoking were revealed, there was no controversy at all, nothing but a history of obfuscation and deceit on the part of industry and the medical establishment. The people who were willing to stand up to the authority figures—as Dr. Ladd McNamara is doing today—turned out to be oh so right. And yet we find ourselves being led down a similar path again. Once again financial interests—this time pharmaceutical giants rather than tobacco companies—are being allowed to trump scientific evidence. And innocent people are being damaged and subjected to premature degenerative disease and death as a result.
If anyone tries to tell you that statin drugs are not a health problem, tell them to use the search terms, “statins” and “side effects” in PubMed, the National Library of Medicine database of the medical literature. What they will get is 160 pages of listings of medical papers—over 3,200 publications—describing various aspects of that topic. For a less professional but perhaps even more accurate response, type the search term “statin side effects” into Google. You instantly get 674,000 hits. Most of them are from patients who are turning to the Internet to make their voices heard because their physicians don’t want to hear what they have to say. Big Pharma has employed a full-court press to preserve its ‘financial miracle drug’, now approximating $30 billion in annual revenues.
In 2005 Health Canada, the Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, issued guidance on patients who should consider avoiding statins. They included those who are pregnant, those who are taking other medications, those who have kidney or liver problems, and those who have diabetes. Taken together, that is a significant percentage of the population, and yet the pharmaceutical industry is doing everything it can to get most Americans on these drugs—whether they need them or not.
Dr. Ladd McNamara offers more than convincing evidence that while statins can lower blood cholesterol, there is no improvement in the risk of heart disease or heart attack, there is no reduced risk of death compared to controls. Which suggests that the cholesterol levels that statin drugs are purported to “cure,” have little or nothing to do with heart disease in the first place.
Statin drugs block not only cholesterol production—a normal, healthy substance in the body—they also block the synthesis of other critical biochemicals such as CoQ10, dilochol and squalene, which are important for cellular functions. When the levels of these substances are low, it is a new health problem, not a ‘cure.’
The problem of cholesterol levels that are too low is something that the medical establishment seems to be avoiding, however they can. The evidence is mounting steadily that some of the violent tendencies that have become characteristic of our society are due—at least in part—to insufficient levels of cholesterol. From heightened risk of suicide to greater frequency of incarceration, low cholesterol is being shown to exhibit a wide range of negative mental effects. Among many other behavioral problems, low serum cholesterol is associated with violence, school suspensions, and out-of-control disinhibitions.
Basic cell anatomy and physiology tell you that all of the membranes in the healthy cell consist of 60 percent or more of lipids, including cholesterol. So it’s easy to see that low levels of blood cholesterol are going to result in dysfunctional cells throughout the body. More directly, the cholesterol-serotonin hypothesis provides a possible mechanism for how cholesterol depletion could contribute to increased depression, alcoholism, aggression, appetite and sleeping disorders, migraine headaches and many other problems affecting Americans both personally and in social relations. I suspect that what may be happening is that cholesterol-depleting drugs are disrupting another biosynthetic pathway—in the central nervous system in this case—just as it poisons the synthesis of coenzyme Q10—one of the body’s most critical substances. You’ll read of the serious consequences of this inhibition of CoQ10 production. The more we learn the better we understand that we simply don’t have an adequate grasp of the full effects of either statin drugs or cholesterol depletion on the cells of the body.
Dr. McNamara also provides a major public service by providing a review of natural, non-toxic alternatives that can help to maintain heart health. Far better than risking side effects from statin drugs is a regimen of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. That’s what can effectively neutralize oxidative damage, which we know is the true base cause of heart disease and stroke.
I encourage Ladd to continue to update and expand this book as the full dark side of the dangers of statin drugs unfolds and the essential nature of cholesterol comes to light. The clinical evidence is growing steadily, but the medical establishment, especially Big Pharma, continues to obfuscate and distort. Patients desperately need the information that Dr. McNamara presents, so they can protect themselves and demand healthy alternatives. I commend him for standing up to one of the world’s most powerful industries on such a controversial subject—for which he is likely to pay a price, personally and professionally. Thank you, Ladd—you deserve all our support.
Dr. Myron Wentz
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