I just finished reading “The Great Cholesterol Myth, Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease – and The Statin-Free Plan That Will,” by Jonny Bowden, PH.D. and Stephen Sinatra, M.D.

I decided that it was time to read this after the on-going situation with my wife.  Before the Stroke, her Cholesterol was in the borderline range.  There were some discussions about going on meds, but it did not happen.  Post Stroke they put her on every medication that money could buy.  Once I realized that she was experiencing what could be some of the side effects from the Statin drug, I requested and her Doc agreed to a Statin holiday.  There were some immediate improvements in her functioning.  We just got the results of her recent blood work.  Although her HDL is optimal and her Triglycerides are just a bit high, her Total Cholesterol and LDL were higher than they like.   We do not want her back on the Statin meds.

The question that causes me concern:  Is my insistence upon her not taking this medication putting her at risk?  This question must be viewed within the following context: I only have “untested and unmeasured” observed side effects.  Given the underlying stroke and it’s impact on her, it is difficult to determine what is the cause.

Now the book.  On the whole – it is a good read and makes a cogent argument against Statin meds for the sole purpose of lowering Cholesterol.   In fact it makes an excellent argument against paying too much attention to your Cholesterol numbers unless you get one of the more sophisticated blood tests that determine the size of the various types of particles.

Throughout the book there are Summary Lists which are titled “What You Need to Know.”  The one concerning Statin drugs, in part states”

  • The benefits of statin drugs are widely exaggerated and their benefit comes from their anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Statin depletes CQ10 resulting in muscle pain, weakness an fatigue.
  • The brain depends upon Cholesterol to function optimally, lowering Cholesterol impacts brain functioning, memory and Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Statins lowering of Cholesterol negatively impacts your sex hormones and functioning.
  • Statins interfere with serotonin receptors.
  • They may be associated with a higher risk of cancer and diabetes.
  • Adverse effects are under-reported.  (We know that from the way the Doctors at the Re-hab facility failed to acknowledge our concerns.)
  • Statins should not be prescribed for the elderly or the vast majority of women.  (Yep – my 68 year old wife – damnation.)
  • Any benefit from taking Statins is seen in middle-aged men with documented coronary artery disease and/or prior heart attack.

The authors then back these statements up with a short course in human biology and a multitude of studies.   A great deal of this information was beyond me, even though they attempted to put it in simple terms.

They also illustrate the many ways in which Big Pharmaceutical Companies and Politics influence our available knowledge.

The other side of the coin – They go into a lengthy discussion on how to control heart disease without Statins.  What to Eat – What Supplements to take and – How to deal with Psycho/Emotional issues such as Stress.  This is their three-cornered stool upon which their non-statin treatment is based.

Some thoughts and observations:

  • I am about 95% persuaded – maybe more.
  • They lay a great deal on inflammation but never discuss the Paleo World’s claim that post agricultural revolution foods are inflammatory.  They recommend Legumes and Beans.
  • They support the elimination of most foods that are not part of a Low Carb lifestyle but recommend legumes, beans, and various other foods for their “health” impact.
  • They slam Canola oil. (Ouch – I have previously been advised to use it.)
  • Eat grass fed meat and milk from grass fed cows.  (Not always so easy to get.) 
  • Don’t eat processed deli meats.

The goals of this book are clearly stated in the title:  Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease – and The Statin-Free Plan That WillThey do a good job of laying it out in a persuasive manner.

BUT – you are the one that has to read it and make your own determination.  I know this – my wife is never going back on Statins – and – she started taking CQ10/100 today.