Is big pharma’s “miracle” heart drug making you fat?

As you probably know, heart disease is the No. 1 killer in this country. And according to the World Health Organization, smoking, lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, and other lifestyle factors cause 80 percent of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

But big pharma seems to tell many of us not to sweat it. We can dodge CVD by just taking a statin drug.

And the idea is gaining momentum. Statin use is skyrocketing. In fact, just look at the numbers…

In 1999, 7.5 percent of the population took a statin drug. But by 2010, 16.5 percent of Americans did. So, in just 10 years, statin use more than doubled.

Of course, big pharma has had a little help promoting statins.

As you’ll recall, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiologists now recommend anyone who has more than a 7.5 percent risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke over the next decade should take a statin drug. (But as I explained yesterday, new research proves statin drugs aren’t appropriate for men and women who don’t have high CVD risk.)

Despite the evidence, big pharma makes empty promises that statin drugs can protect men and women from heart disease. It promotes a false sense of “security” to everyone and anyone who takes a statin drug that they’re somehow heart attack-proof and stroke-proof.

And this illusion leads some statin-users to eat more total food, more empty calories, and more junk food. Eventually, these poor habits cause statin-users to gain weight. Ironically, it also increases their CVD risk.

Researchers recently explored this disturbing trend in a new study known as the “statin gluttony study.” For the study, they used high-quality data on nearly 28,000 men and women enrolled in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

At the start of the study, statin users consumed 2,000 calories and 71.7 grams of fat per day. At that time, people who didn’t use statins consumed less than that amount. Presumably, the non-statin users were less concerned about cardiovascular disease.

But then, something changed.

Ten years later, statin users consumed 192 more calories and 10 more grams of fat per day. Overall, statin users increased their caloric intake by 10 percent and increased their fat intake by 14 percent. They also increased their body mass index during this 10-year period. And they gained anywhere from 7 to 11 pounds.

By comparison, men and women who didn’t take statins didn’t increase their caloric or fat intake at all.

So what changed? Why did statin users loosen their diets (and their belts)?

Blame big pharma. It continues to perpetuate the idea that statins provide ironclad protection against CVD. And that’s simply not true.

What a disaster that so many at-risk men and women forsake proven, healthy, and safe diet and lifestyle approaches to preventing CVD disease for a little tiny pill. And the pill doesn’t even work as intended! (Not to mention the dangerous side effects involved.)

In an editorial that accompanied the study, the editor of JAMA: Internal Medicine said she has treated many patients with statins over the years. She too has observed a “false reassurance” among those who take statin drugs.

So–during the first decade of the 21st century, it appears everyone got the message about restricting dietary intakes. Except those who most need it.

If you really want to lower your CVD risk, do it the right way. And use some common sense. Eat a balanced diet of healthy meats, oils, and green, leafy vegetables. Also, limit sugar and refined carbs. And make sure to go for a brisk walk or swim a few times a week. And do the housework and yardwork on a regular basis. You can also support healthy metabolism by taking a CoQ10 (Ubiquinol) supplement. I also recommend drinking plenty of fluids with added South African red bush (rooibos). At this time of year, I enjoy it cold.

Lastly, make sure to stay informed and steer clear of big pharma’s trendy drugs by reading my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter and the Daily Dispatch. On Monday, I’ll bring you more about the dangers of statin drugs. Apparently, it wasn’t enough for big pharma to go after men and women with high (or even not-so-high) cholesterol. Now, they want patients with lung diseases to take statins too.


1. “Different Time Trends of Caloric and Fat Intake Between Statin Users and Nonusers Among US Adults,” JAMA Internal Medicine Published online April 24, 2014