Category Archives: Drugs

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs are Worthless in Most Cases – Part Three

Before I get into today’s discussion on inflammation, please go to this link put up by Chance News, a group dedicated to reviewing information about the use of statistics in the news. They review the cholesterol news and and the statistics behind it. Go down halfway down the page to see the report.

Inflammation. That is the key driver of many disease progressions. From arthritis to coronary heart disease and from cancer to many neurological disorders, if you control inflammation, you control the disease. Two things are important in determining what to do when it comes to your, or your patient’s inflammatory issues. First is proper laboratory testing is lifestyle changes.

The tenet of biochemical individuality is that each person must be dealt with as a unique being. By suggesting that everyone who has a risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) should take one drug or one supplement is an insult to Dr. Roger Williams concept. The only way to determine what is going on is to do the appropriate lab tests.

When looking for markers of inflammation as they relate to coronary heart disease, one jumps out as being a primary marker and that is C-Reactive Protein. CRP is a protein produced by the liver and is increased during inflammatory processes. People with elevated levels are more likely to have a coronary event than people with low levels. It is important to note that a single high reading is not a good marker for CHD, a number of elevations (>3.0 mg/L) would signify a problem. ZRT Laboratories is a place to get a simple, in-home test (Cardio/Hormone Risk Test) that uses blood spot and saliva to test not only for CRP, but a number of other coronary risk factors as well as hormone levels.

What would cause an elevation in inflammatory markers? Toxicity is one so testing for urinary markers of petrochemicals which is done only by US Biotek, is a good place to start. By seeing if you are excreting chemicals like benzene, styrene, xylene, toluene, phthalates or parabens, you can find out where your exposures might be coming from. Another good test to run is a Hair Elements test from Doctor’s Data to determine possible heavy metal exposure. To help you better understand the report, I suggest Dr. Andrew Cutler’s book – Hair Test Interpretation: Finding Hidden Toxicities.

Another source of inflammatory triggers is food and the best test I have ever found in determining which foods can cause inflammation is the LEAP MRT. Developed by Signet Diagnostics, it can pinpoint the foods that cause the body to release pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, leukotrienes and cytokines that drive the inflammation process. It was the one test that helped my daughter control her seizure activity as well as behavioral issues. It has a great track record in relieving irritable bowel syndrome as well as migraines, both driven by inflammatory triggers.

If you want to become heart healthy, you need to find out whether your body is inflammed and if so, what is causing it. Once you do that, you reduce your risk of developing not just heart disease, but a number of other health conditions.

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs are Worthless in Most Cases – Part Two

This past Friday, I talked about the issues with Lipitor® and the lack of the association between high cholesterol and coronary heart disease. Now let’s talk about real problems that comes up by taking this drug.

Say the side-effect rate is 3-5% (which is the pharmaceutical industry line) which means that given one-percent of people get a benefit, five-percent get side-effects that can be rather serious. Guess what? That estimate is way under what practitioners in the field are seeing. Reports indicate that in the real world the side-effect rate is closer to 15%.

Obviously, this would mean that we need to move away from pharmaceutical intervention to lower cholesterol to alternative, “natural” ones right? Wrong. Turns out cholesterol levels in people with heart disease are not really much higher than people without heart disease. Also, low cholesterol (under 160mg/dl) may increase the risk of a number of health disorders like stroke, cancer, depression, and suicide. Lowering cholesterol is not the issue, in spite of what the nutraceutical industry would like you to believe. They are being no different in their claims than the pharmaceutical industry.

The real culprit in heart disease is inflammation. Lower inflammation and not only do you lower the real risk for heart disease , you lower the risks for a myriad of other diseases from diabetes to arthritis, from cancer to migraines, seizures and irritable bowel syndrome to name a few.

In tomorrow’s blog, I will discuss tools that will help you determine your level of inflammation along with things you can do to alleviate it.

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs are Worthless in Most Cases – Part One

Some of you may have noticed a lack of posts from me this week well I have a pretty good reason. My 86-year old father underwent triple-bypass surgery due to three 90%+ clogged arteries. Since this makes two parents out of two having this dangerous procedure, I wanted to research heart disease a bit. Then I saw an article in Business Week magazine while walking through the SeaTac Airport that made me smile as it was saying what I have been saying for years, which is, statin drugs really don’t prevent heart disease.  

Aside from the Vytorin®/Zetia® debacle, the whole idea of lowering cholesterol (LDL especially) to prevent heart disease is nothing less than a scam. In my upcoming book, Achieving Victory Over a Toxic World, I devote a few pages on the medical communities fascination with LDL and heart disease and how bogus the idea is. Well, the evidence is coming in that I was indeed right, as were a number of researchers I mentioned like Dr. Ufe Ravnskov and Dr. John Abramson.

When I make my comments at lectures around the world about the lack of a real link between LDL cholesterol and heart disease I get mixed reactions. Knowledgeable health care practitioners nod in agreement with big smiles; others grimace with a backdrop of anger and disbelief. Individuals look mystified, bewildered and highly skeptical. How can a guy with a doctorate in business be right when so many physicians who have studied heart disease be wrong? If you stay on the side that thinks statin drugs and lowering cholesterol are proven preventive treatments for coronary heart disease after reading this three-part blog, either you are in a major state of denial or you are on the payroll of a pharmaceutical company that is benefiting from the sale of these ill-conceived toxins.

An important concept to understand is a number called the NNT (Number Needed to Treat). This number tells us the number of people that must take a drug for one person to benefit. If a drug is perfect, than that number should be one, which means for every one person who takes the drug, one person will benefit from it and prevent or successfully treat the disease or syndrome.

For people taking an antibiotic cocktail to kill off the bacterium (H pylorii) that causes ulcers, the NNT is 1.1, which is pretty darn good.  For Lipitor®, whose sales last year for Pfizer was about 13 billion dollars, the NNT is between 16-23 for people who have had a heart attack or have definitive signs of heart disease. Not horrible, but an ok number.

So what does that number mean? To prevent one person having a heart event 16-23 people need to be taking the drug. To prevent a death, 48 people would have to take the drug for 5 years to save one life. But we are saving lives would (and is) the industry answer. Guess what? Change your lifestyle just a little bit (eat better, exercise more, stop smoking, etc) and you’ll do much better than that and you won’t have any nasty side effects.

For those of you with a risk factor like high blood pressure and no existing heart disease or heart attack history, the NNT goes to 75-200. If you have no risk factor except what the medical community would deem “high” cholesterol (over 220 mg/dl) the NNT is a ridiculous 500+ as there is no measurable reduction in deaths or serious events. Very little potential benefit, lots of profits for the pharmaceutical industry.

What about Zetia®? The NNT is an astounding 1000+. It is basically worthless. No benefits seen at all. The same can be said for the diabetes drug Avandia® which does lower blood glucose, but does not prevent any disease caused by diabetes.

“Lipitor® reduces the risk of heart attack by 36%… in patients with multiple risk factors for heart disease.” This is what Dr. Jarvik claims (as does Pfizer) in that insipid ad he appears on TV. Now let’s talk about the real numbers. In the clinical trial he mentions, three percent (3%) of the people taking placebo had a heart attack while two percent (2%) of the people taking Lipitor® had a heart attack. So, 99 people had to take Lipitor® for five years with no benefit for one person to gain a benefit over placebo to prevent a heart attack. I don’t know about you, but that isn’t a 36% improvement. Statistics lie when put into the hands of people with an agenda, especially a multi-billion dollar one.

Come back on Monday to find out how this is only the tip of the iceberg. On Tuesday I’ll be discussing the laboratory tests necessary to help prevent heart disease and help improve your overall cardiac health.

The Vytorin Scandal – Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Now with the scandal involving Scheering-Plough and Merck, two pharmaceutical giants becoming the biggest news story of the day I have to comment. Do you really think that the study that Vytorin is not beneficial is an isolated incident? If you do, you are sadly mistaken. When I worked for a company that sold clinical trial software to the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, I was involved in talking to a number of researchers employed by these companies and some of the things I heard made me realize that the focus of these companies was not your health but their profits.

Here are some of the details of the Vytorin story you may not know about.

  • The data that showed that Vytorin was not beneficial in the lowering of the risk of heart disease was known almost 2 years ago by people at Merck and Scheering-Plough.
  • The CEO of Merck ??? sold $29 million dollars worth of stock in her company last year, after she had to have known the results of the drug trial. 800,000 prescriptions a week are written for Vytorin which provides billions of dollars of profit to these two companies.
  • Worst of all, and something that Congress will be looking into is the fact that after the drug companies found out that Vytorin wasn’t showing up as well as expected they tried to manipulate the data to change the end points which would hopefully show the drug actually worked.

It is this last issue I have my greatest concerns about. When I taught a class to a medical device company in Cleveland, Ohio, I was asked by one of the primary investigators whether they could change the data once it was entered into the program. I made sure they understood that this would be illegal and immoral as well. Often times, I found out that many researchers (not all) in the pharmaceutical industry manipulate data end points and use other statistical machinations to create findings that are positive instead of properly studying results and reporting good and bad regardless of the financial ramifications.

With the recent research saying that there is no link between autism and thimerasol in mercury it was apparent that the researchers manipulated the end points to come up with a result they wanted to come up with. They claim that there was no relationship because there is no change in autism rates recently since thimerasol was removed from vaccines. Problem is that the number of years since the mercury laden vaccines have been removed are not sufficient to see a change in autism rates. Most autism is diagnosed at 4-5 but the removal of thimerasol was only done 2-3 years ago so how could they see a difference. This is known as changing the end point to create a result you want. It is immoral and dangerous.

It is time the FDA and our government do what they are charged with doing, protecting the citizens from dangerous drugs. The pharmaceutical industries money first attitude needs control and must be stopped. It is time for a major overhaul of the drug research and approval system.

Antipsychotic Drugs – No Better Than Placebo for Some

In the January 5th, 2008 issue of the British medical journal The Lancet, researchers in the UK did a study to determine if the antipsychotic drugs haloperidol or risperidone were helpful in controlling the behavior of intellectually disabled people exhibiting aggressive behavior. After looking at the results the authors came up with a surprising finding, there were no benefits over placebo from either drug. In actuality, the placebo was more effective than the drugs at reducing aggressive behavior. The placebo showed no negative reactions or lowering of effect at any time during the trial which is quite significant.

So who would physicians prescribe this drug to that the study found no benefits for? Typically autistics and epileptic children who have had a significant number of seizures. Others might include those with Down’s syndrome as well.

The authors interpretation of the data was as follows: ” Antisychotic drugs should no longer be regarded as an acceptable routine treatment for aggressive challenging behavior in people with intellectual disability” Considering the significant side-effects these drugs pose, I would avoid using these drugs at all costs and would recommend anyone with intellectual disabilities be taken off the drug (carefully and with full physicians care).

Another Bad Decision by the FDA

A recent decision to allow pharmaceutical companies to circulate pee-reviewd papers about off-label uses of a company’s products is a bad idea that makes one wonder who’s payroll is the FDA on. Ours or the pharmaceutical industries?

The problem with this idea is that the companies can now go after getting FDA approval for very narrow uses and then promote the drugs for more profitable uses without having to go through stringent testing and scrutiny. My understanding is that the FDA is supposed to protect the public, not the interests of the drug industry. This ruling does the exact opposite and Congress needs to step in which it is now in the process of doing, I hope.

Top Science Stories of 2007

Every year Discover Magazine puts out a list of the top 100 science stories of the year. As I did last year, I want to relate those which relate to issues I deal with on my blog. Please pick up a copy of the January 2008 issue to read the full article.

#1 – China’s Syndrome – From tainted products to their terrible pollution problem, this story ranked first is one that will be with us for many years.

#4 – Artic Thaw – Climatologists are deeply concerned about the melting ice caps in the Arctic and its effects on global warming.

#5 – Rx for the FDA – If there was a governmental agency that needed fixing, it is this one. It needs to be overhauled with no industry say or influence.

#6 – Conservation Gets A Green Light – Switching from incandescent bulbs to the newer generation fluorescents would be a big boost in protecting our environment. Yes, they have a little bit of mercury in them but the reduction of pollution, and the release of mercury from coal-burning power plants makes up for that in buckets.

#8 – Can Vitamin D Save Your Life – You know how I feel about this nutrient, now the world is finding out how much we need it. Get your 2,000 IUs a day and your body will be happier and healthier.

#11 – Hormone Replacement Therapy Linked to Breast Cancer – We’ve known this for years but the drug companies were reticent to let this one out. HRT’s are bad for you, period.

#17 – Is Pollution Weeding Out Male Babies? – Worldwide we are seeing a serious threat to human survival from our insistence on polluting without regard. If we don’t do something soon, this topic will unfortunately become #1.

#21 – Quantifying Global Warming – Denialists need not go any further, we don’t want to hear the nonsense. Global warming is a reality and humans are a major part of the problem.

#22 – Pesticide Effects on Sex Last Generations in Rats – Yes, the epigenetic effect is upon us. Toxins don’t just cause health disruptions now, they seem to follow us for generations to follow. This is one of the scariest stories of the year.

Tomorrow I will go through #s 26-50

Vaccines and Money, It’s All About The Profit

There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding vaccines and autism as well as whether flu shots really benefit anyone. For years, the pharmaceutical industry has bemoaned how vaccines didn’t make them any money so they were really for the benefit of the people. Oh really?  Click on this link to an industry newsletter and find out why this isn’t really the case (you don’t need to buy the report for $1600, just read the abstract).

The “global market” is poised to reach $21 billion dollars by 2010 and they are going from just targeting children to going after adults and the elderly. The U.S. is their biggest market – yeah for us 🙁  – followed by Europe. I guess since they are failing miserably at bringing new, safe and effective drugs to market to deal with real health issues, they need to create a new market to supposedly prevent diseases (cancer being their #1 target). Unfortunately, we won’t know whether these vaccines won’t create other diseases or other problems that will only crop up years from now.

Do you even know what is in the vaccines?  Supplements and foods have to list all their ingredients on the label but for some reason, vaccines don’t. While this video is quite humorous, it is a very serious issues. Would you really want to be injected with formaldehyde, mercury and ether?  I know I don’t.

Drug Reactions Up….. Way Up

In 1998, 5519 people died from side effects due to prescription and non-prescription drugs. In 2005 the number sky rocketed to 15,107. And these numbers may be underestimating the effect. So why the rise?  Here are a few reasons.

First off, the number of prescriptions given by doctors has gone up quite a bit but not by as much as the number of adverse reactions have. There have been a number of drugs pulled from the market recently because of adverse effects but they only account for less than 1 percent of total reports of side effects. The real reason is that so many people are on an unconscionable number of drugs and the interaction possibilities have not been throughly looked into.

In my consults with physicians, I have heard list of drugs people are taking that just makes me shudder. One person was on two antidepressants, thyroid medication, NexiumTM, blood pressure meds, a statin drug and Depakote (an antiepileptic drug). Their complaint to their doctor?  They felt like hell. Well no kidding. How can any physician stand by and put their patient on this array of meds without wincing and feeling guilty about turning their back on the Hippocratic oath they took when they graduated from medical school.

More work needs to be done to educate physicians how not to prescribe drugs instead of being sent on trips and being bribed by the pharmaceutical industry to prescribe more drugs. This is a cover-up mentality that does nothing to address causes of disease. More research dollars should be spent on prevention of disease not on covering it up.

A recent study showed that people with type 2 diabetes had improved blood sugar control just by simply exercising three times a week. How many other such suggestions should find their way into a physicians discussion with their patients?  A whole lot of them but instead of doing that, it’s easier to throw a pill or two at the patient even if it eventually may harm them.

Heart Attacks and Cholesterol – Public Policy That Makes No Sense

I have touted the book Overdosed America by Dr. John Abramson over and over. It is shocking to me that so few people, especially doctors, know that high cholesterol and heart attacks are only correlated through the age of 40. Lowering weight, eating right, not smoking and exercising have more benefits and reduce heart attack risk more than statin drugs by far. Too low cholesterol increases the risk of other fatal diseases and over use of statin drugs does little but enrich the pharmaceutical industry.

On his blog site, Dr. Abramson has reviews of his book listed which are well worth reading. Here is one such review from the San Diego Union Tribune:

“Abramson, who has a background in statistics and health policy, took the time to read the full 284-page version of the panel’s 2001 report, rather than the 11-page summary that most doctors saw. The results of his careful analysis are enough to shock a healthy heart into failure. He notes that data from the venerable Framingham study – a large, long-term study of risk factors for heart disease – show that elevated total cholesterol levels correlate with an increased risk of death only through the age of 40. Even more astounding is the finding that the risk of death from causes other than coronary heart disease increases significantly with lower total cholesterol levels for both men and women after the age of 50. And that doesn’t even touch on the question of the long-term side effects – both known and unknown – of the statins themselves.”

Buy two copies of the book which is in paperback and give one to your doctor. Physicians need to know that prescribing statin drugs to all but a small percentage of individuals is bad medicine, morally wrong and just plain harmful. Statin drug prescriptions is an industry not true medicine.