Occasionally at the surgery I get the chance to read through old newspaper articles. I just came across this one by Dr Haroun Gajraj a vascular consultant based in Dorset who had recently been prescribed statins for high cholesterol.
For eight years he faithfully popped his pills without side effects until one day last year he stopped. Not because of side effects but because he had a good look at the research. He concluded that statins would not save him from a heart attack and that his cholesterol levels were pretty irrelevant anyway.
Why this bolt from the blue? Gajraj had discovered the amazing Norwegian Hunt 2 Study which I wrote about last year. The study came out in 2011 and followed 52,000 men and women aged between 20 ad 74 for 10 years. It showed that contrary to all the hype, the lower a woman’s total cholesterol, the greater her risk of dying, either of heart disease or anything else including cancer. The study backed up others which have linked high cholesterol levels with increased longevity in older people.
He, like many other experts such as Dr Aseem Malhotra, are not convinced by the idea that cholesterol is the baddie in the heart disease story but believe it might simply be an innocent bystander. In fact, these experts are beginning to believe that sugar is emerging as the true villain and after years of demonisation, saturated fat is fast being acquitted of causing heart disease.
In a recent survey by Pulse, six in 10 GPs opposed the recent draft proposal to lower the risk level at which patients are prescribed statins. And 55 per cent said they would not take statins themselves or recommend them to a relative based on the proposed new guidelines. Surely this must say something about these horrendous drugs?