For the “gold standard” in published research, scientists and journalists “in the know” turn to The Cochrane Collaboration. Here is the group’s mission:
“The Cochrane Collaboration is an international not-for-profit and independent organization, dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare readily available worldwide. It produces and disseminates systematic reviews of healthcare interventions and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions.”
On January 14, 2011, The Cochrane Collaboration published the following editorial: “Considerable uncertainty remains in the evidence for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.”
Ebrahim and colleagues noted in their editorial that: “Disappointingly, the current evidence concluded that counseling and education to change behavior do not reduce total or coronary heart disease mortality or clinical events in general populations. Despite this finding, numerous guidelines continue to promote such interventions. Yet, as the review notes, no large-scale randomized controlled trials have recently been undertaken to improve the evidence-base in this area. In addition, there were substantial shortcomings in the methods of the included trials, limiting the overall findings. For instance, in only 13 out of 55 trials the methods for random allocation were considered adequate; in nine they were found to be inadequate.”
These words are not coming from some random internet quack or even from an editorial board of an established newspaper. The Cochrane Collaboration is considered by many to be the closest organ the science community has to a “Supreme Court.”
A second Cochrane review looked at 14 randomized controlled trials to assess the use of statins for “primary prevention of CVD [cardiovascular disease].” The review did find “Overall all-cause mortality was reduced by statins, as well as combined fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular endpoints, while no evidence of significant harm was observed. However, there was only limited evidence that primary prevention with statins may be cost-effective.”
That passage seems pretty optimistic, from a “pro-statin” point of view. It certainly does not suggest that everyone and his dog should take statins, as the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommended in 2013. However, it suggests that the drugs can help and probably do little harm.
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