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Drugs Used to Treat Preventable Diseases Carry Serious Risks

Never forget, you don’t get something for nothing when it comes to medications. All medications have side effects, most of them potentially serious. Typically a drug has to be on the market for many years to discern all the long-term risks. Recently, news has come out exposing serious adverse effects of two types of drugs that are used to treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure — statins and angiotensin receptor blockers. The pharmaceutical industry, performing their own “research,” has a long and consistent record of covering up discovered dangers of their products and embellishing the advantages. Of course, physicians also give the impression that drugs are necessary, when in fact they are not.

1. Statins — cholesterol–lowering drugs

Researchers examined medical records of over 2 million statin users in England and Wales in order to quantify side effects during the first 5 years of statin use.

The conditions that were found to be associated with statin use were:

  • Moderate to serious liver dysfunction
  • Acute renal failure
  • Moderate to serious myopathy (impaired muscle function)
  • Cataracts1

Statins have also been linked to increased diabetes risk in another recent study.

Statins, which block a key enzyme in the body’s production of cholesterol, are the most widely prescribed class of drugs in the U.S. Statin use is growing, and will soon be expanding even to those who do not have elevated LDL levels, based on the recent (drug-company funded) JUPITER study.2 More widespread statin use will continue to give Americans a false sense of security, that they are protected from cardiovascular disease when they are only treating a single symptom. Only excellent nutrition, not drugs, can provide complete protection against heart disease. With widespread use of statins, the nutritional causes of heart disease are not addressed, and a significant number of liver dysfunction, renal failure, myopathy, and cataract cases will be produced. The authors of the statin adverse effect study stressd that physicians should weigh the possible risks and benefits before placing someone on a statin. But since it is rare that a person (on a Nutritarian diet) would actually require a statin, realistically the benefits do not weigh heavily. These adverse effects are simply unacceptable when the alternative to these drugs is a nutrient-dense diet and exercise, treatments with only positive side effects.

2. Angiotensin receptor blockers — anti-hypertensive drugs — linked to lung cancer and heart-related deaths

Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) are used to treat hypertension, heart failure, and diabetic nephropathy (kidney dysfunction). They work by blocking a hormone system that regulates vascular tone and water and salt balance to control blood pressure.

Because angiotensin can affect cell survival and angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), two important factors in tumor growth, angiotensin is thought to play a role in cancer progression.3 To determine whether taking ARBs affected cancer risk, scientists performed a meta-analysis of several studies to uncover any possible links between ARBs and cancers. They determined that ARBs carry a increased risk of new diagnosis of any cancer (8%), and a significantly higher risk of lung cancer (25%).4

One ARB in particular, olmesartan (Benicar), is now under scrutiny by the FDA for potential cardiovascular risks. In a clinical trial testing olmesartan’s efficacy for slowing kidney damage in diabetics, there were increased rates of sudden cardiac death and death from heart attack and stroke in the subjects taking the drug compared to those taking placebo.5

In my practice, and from results recorded from members at DrFuhrman.com, even people with dramatically high blood pressure readings and dramatically high cholesterol levels have successfully returned their levels to normal without medications. In fact, as published in the medical journal Metabolism, the Nutritarian diet is the most effective method to lower high cholesterol, even more effective than drugs.6 If people were very informed of these results and the risks involved with taking medications, many more would certainly embrace nutritional excellence as therapy. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are lifestyle-created conditions, and the safest and most effective treatment is a high nutrient diet and exercise.

References:
1. Hippisley-Cox J, Coupland C. Unintended effects of statins in men and women in England and Wales: population based cohort study using the QResearch database. BMJ 2010 May 20;340:c2197.
2. Spatz ES et al. From here to JUPITER: identifying new patients for statin therapy using data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2009 Jan;2(1):41-8.
3. Li H, Qi Y, Li C, et al. Angiotensin type 2 receptor-mediated apoptosis of human prostate cancer cells. Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 Dec;8(12):3255-65.
Feng Y, Wan H, Liu J, et al. The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 in tumor growth and tumor-associated angiogenesis in non-small cell lung cancer. Oncol Rep. 2010 Apr;23(4):941-8.
Zhao Y, Chen X, Cai1 L, et al. Angiotensin II / Angiotensin II type I receptor (AT1R) signaling promotes MCF-7 breast cancer cells survival via PI3-kinase/Akt pathway. J Cell Physiol. 2010 May 10. [Epub ahead of print]
4. Sipahi I, Debanne SM, Rowland DY, et al. Angiotensin-receptor blockade and risk of cancer: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Lancet Oncol. 2010 Jun 11. [Epub ahead of print]
5. Reuters: UPDATE 2 — FDA looking into death risk from Daiichi’s Benicar. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1113920620100611
6. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Popovich DG, et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism. 2001 Apr;50(4):494-503.


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