Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Warnings Overdue
Controversy about whether the aggressively marketed cholesterol-lowering statins are being overprescribed has raged since their introduction, and there has been increasing evidence of the drugs’ potential harm. On February 28, 2012, an important FDA Drug Safety Communication announced that drug companies must now warn patients of the risks of diabetes and memory loss. Both of these problems have long been suspected by qualified and reputable scientists for years, and have been reported in the writings of integrative medicine practitioners. There have also been warnings regarding the underreported side effects of these medications, one of the problems being the resemblance of the statin side effects to what appear to be signs of normal aging, such as a subtle decline in walking capability and muscle strength as well as gradual memory and general cognitive decline.
Ironically, at the same time as the FDA is demanding warnings on the medication labels, it is now removing the recommendation of repeated blood tests to monitor for liver-related problems, long known to occur with statins. The recommended blood tests will now be restricted to severe liver problems, leaving patients with other liver inflammatory responses vulnerable.
Medical consumers with high cholesterol are now in the uncomfortable position of having to weigh the evidence and decide for themselves whether the possible benefit of taking the statin medications prescribed by their doctor outweighs their potential risks. To aid in making these important decisions, I suggest the writings of Jay Cohen, M.D. of MedicationSense.com, a source of clearly documented scientific information regarding the use of medications versus natural alternatives.
Henry C. Sobo, M.D. practices Integrative Medicine in Stanford. For more information, see his website at DrSobo.com, or call the office at 203.348.8805.