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Jeff Sutherland

Twice the Energy with Half the Stress

Cholesterol Drugs: Look at Alternatives

There are big dollars in cholesterol drugs and your doctor will not tell you that statins disrupt your CoQ10 pathway leading to higher risk of sudden heart failure. He or she also will not tell you that the Life Extension Foundation has a nutritional supplement protocol for lowering cholesterol that works well in combination with exercise. When my primary care physician wanted to put me on statin drugs a few years ago when my cholesterol hit 240, I told him I would be back in a few weeks with my cholesterol in normal range. The LEF protocol along with exercise brought it to 150. My physician was ecstatic and said he never saw anything like it! I thought it was too low (despite what some doctors will tell you) and work at maintaining it at 180.

I’ve replaced some of the LEF protocol with Dr. Sear’s pharmaceutical grade fish oil which my tests indicate lowers my heart rate by 10 beats/minute along with a 5-10 point cholesterol drop within a few minutes of taking it. This is consistent with findings of the Lyon study. In 1994, the Lancet published the Lyon Diet Heart Study which showed that a mediterranean diet reduced mortality by 70%. This is a little better than statin drugs, many of which show only marginal effects. In 1999, one of the leading cardiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital reported in an editorial in Circulation that almost no cardiologists were familiar with the Lyon Heart Study. Circulation. 1999;99:733-735

Maybe cardiologists do read the medical literature but are confused by reading misinformation from guys on drug company payrolls at NIH.

The National Institutes of Health: Public Servant or Private Marketer?

By David Willman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Doctors have long relied on the NIH to set medical standards. But with its researchers accepting fees and stock from drug companies, will that change? A continuing examination by The Times shows an unabashed mingling of science and commerce.

For 15 million Americans, it is a daily ritual: gulping down a pill to reduce cholesterol. They do it because their doctors tell them to. Their doctors, in turn, rely on recommendations from the National Institutes of Health and its scientists, such as Dr. H. Bryan Brewer Jr.

Brewer, as a leader at the NIH, was part of a team that gave the nation new cholesterol guidelines that were expected to prompt millions more people to take the daily pill. He also has written favorably of a specific brand of cholesterol medication, Crestor, which recently proved controversial.

What doctors were not told for years is this: While making recommendations in the name of the NIH, Brewer was working for the companies that sell the drugs. Government and company records show that from 2001 to 2003, he accepted about $114,000 in consulting fees from four companies making or developing cholesterol medications, including $31,000 from the maker of Crestor…

In the Aug. 21, 2003, American Journal of Cardiology, Brewer wrote that Crestor “produced markedly greater reductions” in cholesterol levels than three established competitor drugs tested in clinical trials. That was true. But Brewer also concluded that Crestor’s “benefit-risk profile … appears to be very favorable,” and that proved to be questionable.

Brewer assured doctors there was no basis for worry about a muscle-wasting side effect called rhabdomyolysis, which can cause kidney failure and death. (Another anticholesterol drug, Baycol, was removed from the market in 2001 after at least 31 deaths related to rhabdomyolysis were reported.)

Brewer wrote: “No cases of rhabdomyolysis occurred in patients receiving [Crestor] at 10 to 40” milligrams.

But eight cases of rhabdomyolysis were reported during clinical trials of Crestor. One of the case reports cited a patient who took the drug in 10-milligram doses, according to records filed with the Food and Drug Administration and reviewed by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act. Sales representatives for AstraZeneca have routinely provided copies of Brewer’s journal article about Crestor to doctors nationwide, a company spokeswoman confirmed last week.