Book Review – The Statin Disaster by Dr. David Brownstein

Book Review – The Statin Disaster by David Brownstein, MD

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

In this latest of Dr. David Brownstein’s books, he clearly states that statin medications fail to prevent or treat heart disease for nearly everyone who takes them. He also points out the shortcomings of the “cholesterol equals heart disease” theory. Dr. Brownstein is concerned because most busy practitioners do not take the time to fully understand the statistics used in drug studies well enough to critically examine the findings. This leaves practitioners to rely solely on the conclusions presented by the study investigators, who are often funded by pharmaceutical companies interested in bringing new drugs to market. Because of this, we are exposed to exaggerated claims of effectiveness when the actual facts may show otherwise.

What Are Statins?
Statins make up a class of drugs that lower the level of cholesterol in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver. Statins reduce production of cholesterol in the liver by blocking an enzyme responsible for cholesterol production.

Statistics
Dr. Brownstein introduces us to a statistical concept known as the “number needed to treat.” This number can be calculated from data provided in studies, telling us how many people need to be treated with a medication for one person to benefit. The ideal number is one. When the number needed to treat is one, every person treated benefits from the treatment. Examples of therapies with a very low number needed to treat include patients with type 1 diabetes using insulin and patients with low thyroid function taking thyroid.

However, many of the drugs currently in use have a high number needed to treat. Numbers of 200 or more are seen regularly in studies using statins. In other words, 200 people need to be treated before one person will benefit. This might be acceptable if statins had no adverse effects and were completely without risk. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Adverse effects associated with statin use include muscle pain and damage, digestive problems, memory loss and confusion, increased blood sugar levels and Type 2 diabetes, and liver damage. These adverse effects may not happen to everyone, but if the number needed to treat for statins is 200, 199 people out of 200 using statins are taking the risk of experiencing an adverse effect while experiencing no benefit at all from the statin drug.

Based on Dr. Brownstein’s evaluation of the studies that have been done using statins, he states statins are effective for approximately 1% who take them. In other words, statins fail 99% who take them.

Is Cholesterol Good Or Bad?
The current perception about cholesterol is that there is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. Cholesterol is neither good nor bad. We forget how important cholesterol is to our body’s daily functions. Cholesterol is an essential substance needed by every cell in the body. The human body uses cholesterol to make hormones, vitamins, and substances that help digest foods. If cholesterol levels are too high, our body is telling us something is not right. It would make sense to pay attention to our body’s signals and try to find the underlying cause of the elevated cholesterol levels rather than using medications to artificially lower levels. In addition, driving our cholesterol levels too low may create a whole new host of problems including problems with our immune systems and our resilience to infection.

How Do Hormones Play a Role?
Let’s zero in on hormones. Cholesterol is the source material for all sex hormones including estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, and adrenal hormones such as DHEA, and hydrocortisone. Our brains depend upon the hormones made from cholesterol as much as the rest of our body does. Progesterone and pregnenolone protect the nervous tissue throughout our body. Elevated cholesterol may simply be a signal the body is working hard to replenish these hormones in the event hormone levels are low. Cholesterol levels may also increase when thyroid hormone production is inadequate. Correcting sex hormone deficiencies and hypothyroidism for patients may bring their cholesterol levels down. Dr. Brownstein says he often sees patients in his practice where supplementing with sex or thyroid hormones brings cholesterol levels back into the normal range.

Dr. Brownstein says evidence-based medicine should be used and embraced. He feels the information is out there to expose statins as “one of the greatest failures in modern medicine.” According to Dr. Brownstein, our acceptance of such poor standards is mediocre medicine. We can and should determine what really makes a difference in our health. Reading his book will get us started.

  • Brownstein D. The Statin Disaster. West Bloomfield, MI: Medical Alternatives Press; 2015 www.drbrownstein.com
Book Review – The Statin Disaster by Dr. David Brownstein2017-12-12T17:36:15+00:00

Book Review – An MD’s Life Saving Health Solutions by James A. Schaller

Book Review – An M.D.’s Life-Saving Health Solutions by James A. Schaller

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

Although not apparent from the title of this book, An M.D.’s Life-Saving Health Solutions: A Gynecologist’s Advice, Dr. James Schaller shares some very interesting thoughts about hormones from his long clinical practice in obstetrics and gynecology. He writes in an engaging fashion, almost like you were sitting in his office and having a conversation with him.

He is very clear that progestins (which he calls castrating drugs) are not progesterone. He calls the large Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study ill-conceived and and says it fails to answer the question that that they sought. The question asked by the study was “Can hormones delay the onset of chronic disease in women?” Because the study used only Premarin and Premarin with medroxyprogesterone (progestin), we only learned that the synthetic or non-human identical hormones do not delay the onset of chronic disease in women.

Dr. Schaller discusses the relationship between hormone balance and body fat at great length. He states ideally, a woman should have about 22% body fat. Less than 13% body fat and low estrogen at menopause is a real concern because there is not enough fat to allow for adequate estrogen storage. Consequently, very thin women have more sensitivity to swings in estrogen which occur throughout the cycle or in perimenopause. “Fat cells store, produce and release estrogen. The number of fat cells affects all hormonally-related effects,” Dr. Schaller claims.

Very thin women can experience stopped monthly periods because there is not enough estrogen available to build up the endometrium. Recall that cycling begins in a young woman who has at least 13% body fat. These women are also at higher risk for osteoporosis.

On the other hand, women who are overweight with more than 30% body fat, store plenty of estrogen in their fat cells. They have a life-long imbalance in progesterone needed to balance the estrogen they accumulate and store. Periods may also stop for obese women but they will likely experience abnormal bleeding.

It is important women understand normal ovarian function. Young girls usually experience pain during the first one to two days of their periods indicating that an ovulation has occurred. After a vaginal delivery this pain may stop. Pain can also occur at mid cycle or two weeks before bleeding begins. This pain can be stabbing or a dull ache and represents the pain of the follicle bursting through the ovary wall. He recommends avoiding strenuous activity when this happens. The ovaries can actually sway with rigorous exercise and prevent healing of the rupture in the ovarian wall.

Dr. Schaller’s book contains many more practical hints. He warns against using psychoactive drugs, medications that have an effect on mood, behavior, or thinking processes, for PMS when progesterone addresses the underlying issue and is less expensive too. He says statins are very dangerous. He notes that cholesterol-lowering drugs do not save lives but actually increase mortality and produce depression and memory problems.

Dr. Schaller is accepting of some doses of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for ovulation pain; however, he says using NSAIDs in excess can cause serious problems because of their potential for gastric ulceration. Drugs which are used for excess stomach acid actually prevent absorption of critical nutrients and bisphosphonate drugs used for osteoporosis interfere with normal bone metabolism.

It was a privilege to read this book and reap the benefits of the observations of a physician in practice for over 40 years. I am sad to see our medicine system turning into one which allows patients only a few minutes with a practitioner and uses treatment plans based on algorithms instead of treating people like individuals and tapping into the vast stores of knowledge and experience from physicians such as Dr. Schaller.

Book Review – An MD’s Life Saving Health Solutions by James A. Schaller2018-01-22T10:56:17+00:00

Foot Fat Pad Atrophy

Foot Fat Pad Atrophy

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

 

Here’s another one to add to the number of signs and symptoms of declining hormones: Is the heel or bottom of your foot causing you pain? Are you finding yourself seeking relief in the Dr. Scholl’s section of the pharmacy? It could be due to foot fat pad atrophy.

The foot fat pads are the tissue that protects your foot on the ball of the foot and at the bottom of the heel. Atrophy means shrinking or disappearing. The foot pad tissue under the foot does decline with age. Menopause and surgical menopause increase the rate of decline. Obvious mechanical issues, such as being overweight, can also have a negative impact and hasten the loss of the plumpness of this tissue.

If plantar fasciitis (painful inflammation of the bottom of the foot) has been an issue, your practitioner may have used one or more injections of “cortisone” to relieve pain. Unfortunately, this “cortisone” is not the same as the cortisone hormone the body produces; it is actually a synthetic analog that can lead to even more atrophy of the foot pads.

In addition, as Dr. Sergey Dzugan points out in The Magic of Cholesterol Numbers, cholesterol levels elevate when the body senses a deficiency of the sex and adrenal hormones, which are normally produced from cholesterol. So statin users beware! When taking statins, not only do cholesterol levels fall, but the ability to make hormones drops even further. Statin drug use may be a source of foot pain from accelerated foot fat pad atrophy.

If you are experiencing foot pain, have your practitioner check for hormone deficiencies, including vitamin D (which is also made from cholesterol). These deficiencies may be the underlying cause of your foot pain.

Foot Fat Pad Atrophy2017-12-14T15:16:50+00:00