So, how do we know whether this criticism of a Lancet study is good or bad?

A major Lancet study which backed the safety of statins was “fundamentally flawed” and underestimated the side-effects of the heart drugs, a group of medics have said.

The research published in September concluded that the drugs help prevent around 80,000 major cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or strokes, every year.

Scientists said the drugs did far more harm than good, with too many patients had been put off taking them because of needless fears about side-effects.

It followed a long debate over the merits of the cholesterol-busting drugs, which are taken by 8 million Britons.

But today a group of doctors attacked the Lancet study.

Writing in The Prescriber, a group of medics led by cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra

That’s as far as we need to go. Malhotra – this criticism is bollocks.

13 thoughts on “So, how do we know whether this criticism of a Lancet study is good or bad?”

  1. I was “persuaded” onto statins some years ago, after a very few days I could “feel” myself getting “stoopid”, and some years later, at 75, bright and alert, I am doing fine.

    I’d rather have an alert life than a longer vegetable one.

  2. They gave some to my late Mam a few years ago. Within hours of taking them she started talking weird nonsense. We thought she had had a stroke but stopped the tablets as that was the only change in her life that might have been a cause. She started getting better right away tho’ it took 2 days to get back to her normal self.

    I wouldn’t piss on statins never mind take one.

  3. “Scientists said the drugs did far more harm than good, with too many patients had been put off taking them because of needless fears about side-effects.”

    This sentence doesn’t make any sense. If “scientists” think the drugs do more harm than good then you _should_ put patients off taking them.

    The solution, as ever, is individual. You know you have a roughly 1% higher chance of finishing the year with a coronary or stroke if you don’t take them. So take them, and if you can’t tolerate the side effects for that benefit, stop taking them.

  4. “a roughly 1% higher chance of finishing the year with a coronary”
    that’s the right way to look at things but usually pharmaceutical companies talk about relative rather than absolute risk so they will compare 1% to say 3%and say that you can reduce your risk of dying by 33%. I may not have the ratios right that this is the way it’s done to convince people to take statins focus on the relative rather than absolute risk -if much scarier.

  5. A GP I was talking to recently said that in his practice they reckon that about 10% of statin-takers suffer unpleasant side-effects. (He’s a GP so I’d take that 10% as very rough-and-ready; I wouldn’t be too surprised if the figure were about 20%, especially since some patients will probably stay shtum and just flush the pills down the loo.) Yet it wasn’t a million years ago that the statin-pushers were talking of 0.1%. Now they seem to mention 1% more often.

    Maybe things have changed since I looked into it, but at that time the results seemed to be:

    (i) Statins showed modest benefits for middle-aged men who’d already had a heart attack.

    (ii) But no benefit for women,

    (iii) And no benefit for codgers.

    (iv) The unpleasant side-effects were so much commoner than statinators admitted that the only sensible conclusion was that the statinators were not innocently mistaken but were outright liars.

    On top of this is the possibility that the lipid hypothesis is simply wrong, and that the beneficial mode of action of statins (see (i)) is not to do with lowering cholesterol at all.

  6. So are the experts right or wrong? I keep hearing we must listen to them because they are infallible but I can’t figure which ones are the experts here.

  7. @DJ: metabolisms are such intricate things, and careerism among doctors and medical scientists such an awesomely powerful force, that my advice can only be “First catch your expert”.

    My chum the Retired Epidemiologist won’t touch the bloody things and neither will I.

  8. Mr. Ecks – hear hear!

    Mate of mine took them for a couple of weeks, now he can’t walk. Two sticks all the time, maximum range about 50 yards, takes him half an hour to get down the stairs every morning.

    1% increase in the chance of coronary event? I’ll take it.

  9. Bloke in North Dorset

    “He said the guidelines did not impose statins on those at risk, but recognised the importance of personal choice.”

    How magnanimous. Are they sure we are allowed to make up out own mind without the help of Fact Sherpas?

  10. A few months ago I’d just started a third type of statin due to side effects of the others, found them even worse, so stopped. And then found that things I’d hadn’t attributed to statins also disappeared. And felt much better, fitter, and more human (“my old self”, rather than “so this is what it’s like being old”) generally. I was feeling so good that I kept forgetting to go back to the doctor to update him. When I eventually did, and happened to mention what I’d read about CoQ10 inhibition, he alluded to another component that’s interfered with by statins, and said “just throw them in the bin, then” . . . So that’s now two prescribed medications I no longer have to take

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