In January 2014, a population study published in the Journal of Negative Results in Medicine shook the statin industry to its core and forced tens of thousands of doctors the world over to reconsider the utility of statin therapy.
Actually, it did no such thing. But perhaps it should have.
The study examined statin use in the country of Sweden between the years 1998 and 2002. Researchers surveyed almost the whole population of Sweden (ages 40 to 79) — more than 3.9 million people. During this period of time, the number of statin takers in Sweden tripled. Heart disease rates in Scandinavia should have come crashing down. But guess what? There was zero reduction in heart attacks in this population.
The authors minced no words in their conclusion: “despite a widespread and increasing utilization of statins, no correlation to the incidence of mortality or AMI (Acute Myocardial Infarction) could be detected. Other factors than increased statin treatment should be analyzed, especially when discussing the allocation of public resources.”
Here is a graph from that paper — “No connection between the level of exposition to statins in the population and the incidence/mortality of acute myocardial infarction: An ecological study based on Sweden’s municipalities” — it offers a compelling (if viscerally disturbing) picture.
Was this Swedish study an anomaly? After all, physicians in the United States — and major marketing machines run by pharmaceutical companies the world over — have told us for years that taking statins, like Lipitor, will lower bad cholesterol and thus reduce heart disease and heart attacks.
Yet this single population study — of nearly 4 million people! — shows that tripling a population’s consumption of statin drugs does not even budge the heart attack rate.
So what is going on? Was this study an aberration somehow? Was it poorly done? These are important questions to asked. Put a pin in them for now. This book will examine the purported benefits of Lipitor and other statins in much greater detail later.
For now, just let the study’s authors’ words percolate in your mind: “despite a widespread and increasing utilization of statins, no correlation to the incidence of mortality or AMI (Acute Myocardial Infarction) could be detected.”
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