He feels this is particularly egregious in the very widespread use of statins. He introduces us to the concept of the “number needed to treat”. This number can be calculated from the data presented in studies. The ideal number is 1 for an effective therapy. For instance, giving insulin to a type 1 diabetic or thyroid to a hypothyroid patient works for each person. However, many of the drugs in our arsenal don’t come close. In the cholesterol drug trials, it is not infrequent to see numbers such as 200 or more as the number needed to treat for one person to benefit. As an example, it may take 5 years of using a statin drug in 100 people to prevent a second heart attack. So, in reality, this treatment has failed 99 of the people using the drug but included them in all the side effect risks.
We have forgotten how important cholesterol is to us. There is no good cholesterol nor bad cholesterol as we have been thought to believe. Driving our cholesterol levels too low creates a whole new host of problems including problems with our immune systems and our resilience to infection.
Let’s zero in on hormones. Cholesterol is the source material for all the sex hormones including estrogens, progesterone, testosterone and adrenal hormones such as DHEA, and hydrocortisone. Elevated cholesterol can simply be a reflection of the body working on replenishing these hormones. Our bodies build vitamin D from cholesterol as well. Our brains depend up on the hormones made from the cholesterol steroidal structure just as much as our bodies do. Progesterone and pregnenolone protect the nervous tissue throughout our body. Dr. Brownstein sees this often in his practice. Replenishing a low testosterone, for example, can bring cholesterol levels back into range.
Cholesterol levels can also increase when thyroid hormone production is inadequate. Correcting hypothyroidism in a patient can bring down cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol lowering drugs work by impeding an enzyme the body needs to produce cholesterol. Instead of looking for the cause of high cholesterol levels, we are losing the opportunity to make corrections when we are alerted. Our acceptance of such poor standards is mediocre medicine according to Dr. Brownstein. We can and should determine what really makes a difference in our health. Reading his book will get us started.
Brownstein, David “The Statin Disaster” Medical Alternatives Press, West Bloomfield, MI 2015
Review by Carol Petersen and published at www.womensinternational.com