Friday, May 21, 2010

Statins: The side effects 'are worse than feared'

I have been saying this for years. That they send you blind I did not know, however. Appalling

The side effects of statins can be far worse than previously thought, a study suggests. For the first time, the level of harm posed by the cholesterol-lowering drugs has been quantified by researchers.

They found some users are much more likely to suffer liver dysfunction, acute kidney failure, cataracts and muscle damage known as myopathy.

For some patients, the risk is eight times higher than among those not taking statins. Overall, the risk of myopathy - which may be irreversible - is six times higher for men on statins and three times higher for women.

The scientists from Nottingham University stressed the benefits of statins in stopping heart disease outweigh the risks for most patients. However, the study will put the brakes on calls for statins to be given to the healthy for prevention, where there are no classic risk factors or symptoms.

Statins are prescribed for six million patients at risk of heart disease, including diabetics and angina sufferers.

Although drug information leaflets warn of side effects, there has been little analysis of the relative risks and benefits. The latest study, in the British Medical Journal, used records of more than two million patients in England and Wales aged 30 to 84. Of these patients, 225,922 were new users of various types of statins.

Their health was analysed from 2002 to 2008 to determine risk by gender, ethnicity and other medical conditions. For example, the risk of myopathy for black male patients was eight times higher than for non- statin users. It was also five times higher for women with type 1 diabetes and double for women with type 2 diabetes.

The results showed statin use was linked to lower risk of oesophageal cancer but increased risk of moderate or serious liver dysfunction, acute renal failure, moderate or serious myopathy and cataracts.

The study estimated the number of extra cases of a certain condition that could be expected for each 10,000 patients treated with statins.

For high-risk women, there would be 271 fewer cases of heart disease and eight fewer cases of oesophageal cancer but 74 more of liver dysfuncpatientstion, 23 more of kidney failure, 307 more of cataracts and 39 more of myopathy. The figures for high-risk men were similar, except for myopathy, with an extra 110 cases. In medium-risk women, there would be 228 fewer cases of heart disease and seven of oesophageal cancer. However, there were 17 extra cases of renal failure, 252 of cataracts, 65 of liver dysfunction and 32 of myopathy.

Figures for medium-risk men were again similar except for a higher risk of myopathy. The higher the dose of a statin, the more at risk a patient was from acute kidney failure and liver dysfunction.

Lead researcher Julia Hippisley-Cox, of Nottingham University, said one of the reasons for the study was the lack of hard evidence about the level of side effects.

She added that the results were being fed into a website - www. - where doctors and could assess an individual's risk of certain side effects. She called for doctors to closely monitor those at higher risk through more frequent checks on liver, kidney, muscle and eye health.

June Davison, of the British Heart Foundation, said: 'For people with, or at high risk of heart disease, the benefits of statins far outweigh this risk. 'The good news is that the researchers found no significant link between the use of statins and risk of Parkinson's disease or many cancers.'


Pupils should be locked in school at lunchtime

Real Fascism -- and based on premises as false as the original Fascism

Pupils should be banned from leaving their schools during their lunch hour to stop them buying unhealthy food from local fast food outlets, a leading watchdog has said.

Too many children are eating burgers, kebabs, pies and chips for their lunch, with many consuming more than their daily recommended levels of salt and fat in one sitting, the report has warned.

The study was undertaken by the London Environmental Health Food Teams on behalf of Consensus Action on Salt and Health, a lobby group which campaigns for lower salt levels in processed and restaurant food.

The researchers took a snapshot of popular menu items bought by secondary schoolchildren from takeaway shops near approximately 45 schools in 16 London Boroughs. Meals chosen by secondary schoolchildren such as burgers, kebabs, pies, fried chicken and other fast food were analysed for their salt, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat and calorie content and compared with standard school lunches.

The very poor nutrition levels of the food have led to the Schools Food Trust – the body which advices the Government on improving the nutrition of food eaten by pupils – to call for a ban on children leaving schools during their lunch hour.

Rob Rees, the School Food Trust's chairman said: “I think parents will be shocked to realise that their teenagers could be getting more than a day's dose of salt before they even get home from school. Of course teenagers will want to experiment and hang out with their friends. But times have changed – schools are working really hard to give teenagers a lunchtime experience that can rival the high street whilst still being healthy.

"It’s vital that this isn't undermined by nearby junk food outlets – that's why we support stay on site policies and steps to limit access to takeaway food around schools.”

He hailed local initiatives, such as the one in place in Kendal, Cumbria, where the local supermarket, Morrison's has agreed not to sell to school pupils at lunch time, and in Folkestone, Kent where McDonald's had also agreed not to serve children from the local secondary school.

The study found the nutritional content of the food was significantly worse than the burgers, chicken and chips sold by well known fast food chains.

The kebabs, pies, chips and pizzas being sold by the local outlets had particularly high salt and saturated fat content, both of which are linked to heart problems.

Three in every four meals, 54 out of 73, surveyed contained more salt than is permitted under the nutrient-based standards for secondary school lunches, and well over half, 44 out of 73, contained more saturated fat.

One doner kebab and fries contained 1,525 calories nearly two-thirds of the recommended allowance for an adult man, as well as 7.23g of salt and 25.2g of saturated fat, more than the official government recommendation of no more than 20g.

One doner kebab had 48.7g of salt.

Mubeen Bhutta, policy manager at British Heart Foundation, said: “Takeaway meals like these contain disturbing amounts of saturated fat and youngsters need to have the full picture about what they are eating. The problem is takeaways and restaurants aren't telling us what’s in the food we're buying."


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