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Eating Whole Grains Improve Cholesterol with Statins

Combining statins with whole grains in the diet yields significant benefits.

One in four adults over 40 years old are taking a statin medication to improve their cholesterol levels. Tufts University researchers studied almost 4300 adults over 45 years old and found non-HDL levels significantly lower in statin users, but those who consumed more than 16 grams of whole grains per day were even lower. This held true with adjustments for demographics and lifestyle factors.

PositiveTip: Do not rely only on a statin. Consume a healthy diet with plenty of whole grains to maximize the benefit.

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The Need for Critical Evaluation

Unbalanced and poorly reported health information can impact lives.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired an investigative documentary (later withdrawn) discussing the side-effects of statins. They reported an"increased risk of 50 percent" for diabetes, which would more accurately be described as a change from two people out of 200 with diabetes to three people out of 200. Researchers estimate an extra 28,000 Australians stopped taking these cholesterol-lowering meds after the documentary aired. This could have translated to 2900 preventable, and potentially fatal cardiovascular incidents.

PositiveTip: Consult with your health care professional before abandoning any prescription medication.

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Statins May Raise Risk of Diabetes

Study finds almost 50% increase in relative risk of diabetes in statin users.

A cohort of 8749 randomly selected men without diabetes at baseline, but taking statins, were followed for 6 years. After adjustment for potential confounders, those using statins had a 46% increased relative risk of developing diabetes. More research is needed, but the tendency found in this study may give pause to statin use in those with borderline indications. 

PositiveTip: Make healthy lifestyle choices your first line defense against both hyperlipidemia and diabetes.

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Statin Users May Exercise Less

Men using cholesterol controlling drugs may actually exercise less.

Thousands of people use statin medications to control their blood cholesterol levels, but their behavior may reduce the benefits. A recent study of 6000 men aged 65 and older found that after 7 years, statin users engaged in 40 minutes less of moderate exercise per week than non-statin users. Researchers think statin's side effects (muscle pain, fatigue & weakness) may be to blame.

PositiveTip: Stay active and maintain a healthy diet to aid or even avoid statin use later on.

Press Release. Journal Article.

Statins and Grace

Guilty eggs

Statins are an important class of medications for lowering blood cholesterol levels. Statins can help unblock arteries and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The first line of treatment for high cholesterol is dietary. Eating fewer dairy products, eggs, and red meat will often dramatically lower cholesterol levels. Statins can be added if diet alone doesn’t reduce blood cholesterol of normal levels.

A recent study showed that people needing statins for cholesterol do just the opposite of what is recommended. Researchers examined diet changes and statin use in 27,886 US adults, 20 years or older over a period of 10 years. 

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TV Drug Ads Sell Product

TV ads sell statins, but often to people who do not need them.

Tired of watching direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertisements on TV? They work well for the drug manufacturers! Researchers found the odds of self-reported high-cholesterol and statin use were significantly higher in those who report viewing the most statin advertisements. This finding held for both men and women, most of whom were actually at low risk for coronary heart disease.

PositiveTip: Watch TV ads for any product with careful discernment to prevent unnecessary purchases.

Diet that Lowers Cholesterol as Good as Medication

Diet is an important part of healthful living. There are foods that hurt your health and foods that improve your health. What you choose to eat is just as important as what you chose NOT to eat. This is particularly true for foods that help control your cholesterol levels. 

Saturated fats in the diet are harmful to your health as they raise bad cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. Saturated fats are found in red meat, butter and other dairy products such as cheese, sour cream, whole milk, 2% milk, yogurt, and ice cream.

A study on the effects of diet on cholesterol was study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In this study, a group of 350 Canadians were randomly divided into three groups and prescribed special diets.

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Statin Therapy Questioned for Primary Prevention

Doubts now cast on the benefits of statins for primary prevention of heart disease.

Researchers reanalyzed 11 pacebo-controlled trials of statin use in more than 65,000 high-risk patients without cardiovascular disease at baseline. While LDL levels were lower in the statin users than the placebo, there was no difference in all-cause mortality. Other investigators re-looked at the JUPITER trial which claimed a large benefit from one of the statins and determined it was flawed due to insufficient length and financial ties to the manufacturer.

PositiveTip: Medications should never be used as substitutes for true primary preventative measures such as healthy lifestyle choices and activities.