Doctor says benefits of statins is grossly misleading

One of Britain’s leading doctors has hit out at researchers and major pharmaceutical companies, which he says are working together

One of Britain’s leading doctors has hit out at researchers and major pharmaceutical companies, which he says are working together to mislead patients about the side effects of statins.

Over the past few years a number of studies have found troubling results about the potentially dangerous side effects of statins, yet the drug still continues to be hailed as a ‘wonder drug’ and treatment.

Now, cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra says more needs to be done to make people aware of the possible dangers.

In an essay for The Hippocratic Post, Dr Malhotra says there is emerging evidence that suggests the benefits of statins are grossly exaggerated.

A recent paper published in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded nearly 43 per cent of people taking atorvastatin over 10 weeks suffered side-effects compared to 26 per cent of those on dummy pills, a 61 per cent increased risk.

Studies have also found that even for high risk patients, the benefits appear to be minimal.

The median increase in life expectancy in those at high risk who have suffered a heart attack if they take this pill on a daily basis for five years is a mere four days.

A lot of the positive information about statins comes from clinical trial labs – many of which are funded by the major pharmaceutical companies whose drugs they are testing.

“I have deep misgivings about the fact the Clinical Trials Service Unit (CTSU) at Oxford University, which has allegedly received millions in research funding from pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drug, refusing to call for the release of raw data on statins for independent scrutiny,” Dr Malhotra wrote in his essay.

“It is these industry sponsored studies that have resulted in the prescription of statins to tens of millions of healthy people worldwide driving a multi-billion dollar industry.

“And wider debate now seems to have been stifled.”

Dr Malhotra’s words have been backed up by the former the president of the Royal College of Physicians and former Queen’s doctor for 21 years, Sir Richard Thompson, who said it is time for doctors to rethink how they prescribe statins to patients.

He says research on the misgivings about statins “rightly questions the lack of transparency of patient based data in commercial trials, and the impartiality of medical experts funded by the pharmaceutical industry.”

He said: “my conclusion is that a truly independent review of the scientific basis for the use of statins is now needed.”

Do you take statins? Do you worry about potential side effects?

  1. I did take statins to reduce cholesterol however after several years taking it daily, I began to get weakness in my legs. Eventually I could not walk. My doctor sent me to hospital where it was discovered that my kidneys had failed. After time spent on dialysis, I improved and everything is working properly again.
    Since this happened to me, I tell anyone and everyone about my experience taking statins, especially if they also take it.
    It nearly killed me, and it shouldn’t be used so commonly.

    • Carol  

      This happened to my husband. After taking Statins for 4 years he went into renal failure so came off the medication immediately, his kidneys approved instantly and he now has large doses of fish oil and Hawthorn herb tablets to reduce his blood pressure and all his blood tests and pressure are PERFECT! He was only 48 when the Doctor prescribed this poison!

  2. J Longson  

    Took statins for two months, was lethargic, bodily aches and pains, mood swings. Havnt had a heart attack, but cholesterol in the 6 range, which in the old days would have been ok. Stopped taking statins and all the above symptoms disappeared. Have many friends who have had the same experience.

    • Janet Haase  

      I also took statins for a number of years and the pain in my legs and hips was preventing me from enjoying life. I couldn’t walk far without having to sit and rest my painful muscles. I would get out of bed in the mornings and be unable to move due to the pain in my hips. Eventually I decided to stop taking them. I am now happy and can enjoy walking freely no pain at all. My cholesterol is a little high but with care and a good diet it has come down a bit without drugs. I have found Metamucil and Pro Active spread very helpful too. They do work in helping to reduce cholesterol and they are drug free.

    • Carol  

      I’m currently persevering on a very low dose of a statin, but your experience sounds like mine exactly. I’ve just taken a week’s break from them (sick of soreness and stiffness) and have felt so much happier this week due to not having the changes in mood that they cause. I’m so glad you mentioned the mood swings as I thought the statins were most likely the cause, and this is confirmation for me to know that others have found the same.

  3. I take statins following an intracerebral haemorrhage and stroke 4 years ago (my blood pressure was ‘spiking’ when I became anxious – and an artery burst. This took some time to determine.
    I knew that I had been experiencing anxiety, but I believed that it was reactive & therefore reasonable, and I hid it well. Anxiety was actually rife in our community due to ongoing earthquakes & their effect on daily life [house damage, insurance, EQC issues, travel difficulties etc]. I was also experiencing ‘teenage trials’ with my youngest child at the time, plus workload issues). A big pile of ****; it happens!
    The stroke was a strange experience & actually you don’t really question your medications when recovering from such an experience and you are going through rehabilitation.
    But I’ve since read about side-effects and believe that I suffer ‘brain fog’ and excess neurofatigue from taking Atorvastatin. I have lost some brain capacity from the incident 4 years ago, so obviously I want to maintain the best performance possible.
    So I asked my GP to reduce my statin dose, but she’s actually increased it from 20mg to 40 mg daily because my cholesterol levels have risen (from previously normal) over recent years. My cholesterol levels were not raised when i was started on statins, though.
    I think my cholesterol levels increased (at least partially) because I can’t exercise as much now, due to left-sided sensation & proprioception loss post-stroke. That affects my fluidity of movement & increases the risk of falling.
    I AM overweight, I’ve gained 12 kg in 4 years and I find managing that impossible. I go at least twice-weekly to regular activities such as line dancing, and I walk quite a lot.
    My GP believes that statins have a protective effect of ‘strengthening blood vessel walls’ as well as cholesterol reduction, so she thinks that I will “always” need to take them, which is truly disappointing.

    • Sorry I meant that the CAUSE of the haemorrhage took some time to determine, not time determining that the artery had ‘split’. Firstly medics thought ‘brain tumour’ then they thought ‘metastasis from cancer’, and various other things, Only when these were all ruled out was arterial bleed alone entertained as the cause.

    • Geoff  

      I was put on statins after a triple bipass.Luckily I didnt have a heart attack before it just tight in the chest & no pain.

      I have proved that with diet I can lower my cholesterol to 4 and below by diet-limiting all fats and eating a lot of fruit & vegetables plus exercise.

      • Geoff  

        I meant total cholesterol 4 and LDL 2

  4. stella  

    I too took statins for years after it was discovered that I had a high cholesterol which is genetic. My argument was that if it is genetic – and my family live well into their 90’s – just maybe for me that is normal! I started to get bad muscle pains and weakness and told my doctor that I wanted off statins so stopped taking them. Since then I have felt so much better, from hardly being able to get out of bed in the morning to a lot better mobility. After seeing a cardiac surgeon and having a calcium score done he agreed that my risk was slight as I am a non smoker and there is no history of heart problems in my family. As I have lived to be 83 surely any trouble would have shown up by now. So I think it is sometimes worth taking a little more responsibility for your own health. I agree that the pharmaceutical companies do push statins as they get a huge income from them.

  5. Sue McEvoy  

    Tried 2 different statins 1st one caused half my face to feel frozen so changed to 2nd one which caused bad muscle pains at night. I had open heart surgery aged 12 so was concerned when I stopped them. My wonderful Cardiologist told me to take 4000mgs fish oil each day instead. I feel so much better for it. Worth a chat with your doctor about if you have side effects.

  6. Talei  

    I stopped statins after a nasty eye haemorrhage and it was one of many. None since. Now have grapefruit daily as available and have improved eating in general. I also follow Tyler Tolman on Facebook.

  7. Ruth  

    I stopped taking Statins after side-effects. Now I find eating apples keeps my cholesterol manageable.

  8. Joan Marshall  

    God Bless Doctor Malhotra. Every now and then we come across an honest person and it gives hope to humanity !!!
    I used to take Lipitor for years which had terrible side effects like cramps particularly at night, insomnia, confusion, tiredness. I went to a Naturopath who told me to eliminate all animal products. I was told to eat fish, chicken, lots of vegetables all the Berry family in fruits, apples, oats for breakfast. Take a natural tablet of Sterols NOT STEROIDS. Cholesterol Health made by Blackmoores at $30.00 for 60 tablets which is two months supply. I have success in managing to keep the cholesterol at 5 which is acceptable.
    The Pharmaceutical companies are a menace to Society for making money with out taking in to consideration the respect & empathy for People

  9. I too took statins and was fine for a couple of years but then nearly had liver failure along with pains and exhaustion and metal fog. After blood tests my doctor was fairly panicked and rang me on a weekend to get me to stop taking them. I did recover but it took a while, I would advise against them or at least have regular check ups for kidneys and liver.

  10. Jude Power  

    I was prescribed statins after a heart attack 5 1/2 years ago and almost immediately experienced side effects of exhaustion, muscle and nerve pain, depression, exhaustion and loss of libido. Over the following year lower and lower doses and different brands were tried, all with the same negative effects. I even tried a non-statin cholesterol lowering medication – same negative effects.

    I now take 4 tsp of psyllium husks most mornings in my porridge (DON’T TAKE DRY as it swells on contact with liquid and could choke you), even more vegies than I previously ate and walk most days.

    I would never take statins again: I made a conscious decision that I prefer to risk another heart attack than live with the pain and depression and other negative effects. My cholesterol levels would’ve been considered normal decades ago before a committee in the US changed the criteria back in the 70’s: the majority of the committee were pharmaceutical companies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *