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Do You Want Fries with That Lipitor?

My Care2 blog on Wednesday, Statin Cholesterol Drug Muscle Toxicity, discussed the new FDA warnings attached to statins, the world’s best-selling drugs. Side-effects include—the new safety labels caution—memory loss, confusion, and elevations in blood sugar levels. One prominent cardiologist described the Faustian bargain to the Wall Street Journal: “1 to 2 out of 100 patients at risk for a heart attack will avoid one” by taking statins, but research now suggests “for every 200 people who take a statin, 1 will develop diabetes.”

The conclusion that the benefits of statins outweigh the risks is based on a patronizing presumption that fully informed patients would be unwilling to sufficiently improve their diets to eliminate the problem in the first place. This fatalistic attitude is prominently displayed in the American Journal of Cardiology paper featured in my video pick, in which cardiologists suggest that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs be given out free with fast food meals (see above).

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Image credit: davetron5000 / Flickr

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Read more: Alzheimer's, Cholesterol, Diabetes, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Health, Healthy Aging, Heart & Vascular Disease, Mental Wellness, News & Issues, Videos, Videos, , , , ,

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at


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1:37AM PDT on Jun 1, 2013

Julie I hear you and with you too. My dr deemed I was a candidate for Lipitor which is a Statin. The moment i took it, the pains in my thighs were dreadful. I could hardly walk and breathing was laboured. I quit it and said to the Dr i dont care a fig that I have high cholesterol if this is what is offered to 'fix it'. That pain is in my legs even today and flairs up and goes down and flairs up again. I was off it and felt better. How dare drug companies across the board collectively make drugs that make you with the side effects that are hard to deal with.
I take a statin which is low 2mg but take it around every 3 days. Its flaired my aching thighs yet again and my thighs burn and burn like they are on fire. Does this resonate with some of you and you hadnt a clue it was a Statin?

Julie you can take Psyllium husks to help you but we need Cholesterol to make our body work. Its a natural phenomenon. In a lot of websites and I go to heaps and heaps before I make a decision. So have Oats and Psyllium husk which the later comes in a ground down power form in its natural state and add an chopped up apple. All will help with your cholesterol however, Im really interested in Natural meds.

1:20PM PDT on May 11, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

1:29PM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

thanks :)

6:25PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012


12:21PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

of course noit

8:42AM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

This is a dilemma, the diets are unhealthy, the drugs are unhealthy, Julie D. just can't seem to win. It is true that many people in poor neighborhoods cannot afford healthy foods, but we need to keep pushing for healthy choices by the fast food industry. The greatest aversion to these options seems to be that they are so unpalatable that consumers do not purchase enough to make it economically feasible to offer them. Work on more choices. Why does everything need to be devised and approved by a panel of experts? There are lots of great tasting and good for you recipes out there in the private sector and I know that most people are only too happy to share their favorites.Drugs may be a necessary evil in some cases, but let's exhaust all other options first.

8:23AM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

Thanks for this post, Dr. Greger.

I'm truly sorry that there's someone here who feels that you've been "shoving vegan philosophy down [people's] throats." I've remarked on this before, but it bears repeating: just because the author of an article is vegan, some folks would dismiss the science he's presenting, and with such hostility? What an unfortunate prejudice to have.

It turns out there are a lot of smart people who give careful consideration to the reasons to go vegan (personal health, planetary health, compassion for animals, compassion for other humans)--and then decide to do so.

Here's a marvelous example: the author of the following paper actually disclosed that "[d]uring the course of researching and writing this article, my findings impelled me to become a vegan.”

Reality is that carnism gets promoted all the time. Carnism, not veganism, is currently the dominant belief system. The same people who will object so strenuously to promotion of vegan choices/values either don't notice, or aren't interested in objecting to, the promotion of the carnist choices or values that are congruent with their own.

5:45AM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

I have a wonderful holistic MD who checked ALL my cholesterol levels. I had everything dietary under control, but genetic cholesterol was high. He put me on very high levels of Niacin (4 pills, not no-flush!) Build up levels gradually, take with lots of water, and just before dropping off to sleep.

4:46PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Though I was happy to see a post from Dr. Gergen that wasn't shoving his vegan philosophy down our throats, it would have been helpful to point out that the post and the video are entirely sarcastic. Though anyone familiar with the harmful effects of statins would get this, someone stumbling upon this out of nowhere may not.

3:48PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Julie, how are your LDL and HDL levels? Are they in normal range? Mine are so I decided to go off the statins and try krill oil instead. You might want to think about that.

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