Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Statins could help to fight infections

This is naive rubbish. The side effects of statins are so severe that you have to be pretty robust to stay on them. All we are seeing below is that robust people get fewer illnesses

Statins have been found to cut death from infections that cause illnesses such as pneumonia by a third, which could lead to even more people being prescribed the so–called wonder drugs. Up to seven million people in Britain take the cholesterol–lowering medication, which can save lives by reducing the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

But "unexpected" findings from British researchers suggest that statins' principal long–term benefit is stopping deaths from infections and respiratory illness.

It could mean that patients at higher risk of developing pneumonia could also be prescribed the drugs, despite a fear that too many "worried well" already take statins, which cost the NHS about £500million a year. A study in The Lancet last month suggested some people taking the drugs were unlikely to gain any benefit.

Prof Peter Sever, from Imperial College London's international centre for circulatory health, said of the latest findings: "This result is very unexpected. The benefits of statins for preventing heart attacks and strokes are well established, but after long–term follow–up the most significant effects seem to be on deaths from other causes."

There was now "an emerging evidence base for statins protecting against infections", said Prof Sever, who presented the results yesterday at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology in Paris. A paper has also been published in the European Heart Journal.

He said: "We know that if you are on a statin and you get pneumonia, you are less likely to die. "There are about 15 observational studies that show statins protect you against worsening infection and death from infection." Prof Sever said the statins appeared to lessen the production of "toxic" inflammatory agents in the blood, which are stimulated by infections.

Prof Sever said: "This study is going to make people think more about the non–cardiovascular benefits of statins."

Prof Sever's team analysed the death certificates of almost 1,000 people. They were among 10,000 volunteers with high blood pressure who had originally enrolled in the Anglo–Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial (Ascot) to test a type of statin, called atorvastatin.

They found that, 11 years after the Ascot trial started, deaths from infections and respiratory problems were 36 per cent lower in those originally given the statin, compared with those given a placebo.

Since the Ascot trial started, there were 37 deaths from infections and respiratory illness in the atorvastatin group, compared with 56 in the control group. Prof Sever said of these differences: "The numbers are large. It's a very robust study."

There was no difference in death rates from cancer.

Prof Sever, whose previous work helped formulate NHS guidelines for statin use, cautioned against widening statin prescription based on a single study. He said: "One swallow does not make a summer."

Studies have shown that statins can cause side effects such as muscle weakness, and liver and kidney problems.

Others also questioned the validity of the data, noting the trial was not designed to look at causes of death other than from cardiovascular disease. Guy De Backer, from Ghent University in Belgium, said: "I want to remain cautious. We all know that these findings can occur by chance alone. They are interesting but they don't stand on their own."

Those given the statin at the start of the Ascot trial were 14 per cent less likely to die during that period. The trial was stopped after three years since atorvastatin had been shown to reduce the chance of a non–fatal heart attack and death from heart disease by 36 per cent.

Prof Sever said the lower rate of deaths from infections and respiratory illness over the 11–year period since the trial began was a "carry over" effect from being given atorvastatin at the start. Prof Sever's study was funded by Pfizer, which makes atorvastatin. However, the academic noted: "I have no reason to believe that atorvastatin is unique in these non–cardiovascular actions."

Atorvastatin, which currently costs £26 per patient per month compared with £2 for a "generic" drug, is also due to come off patent soon.


Free-range eggs 'are no healthier than battery ones' as cholesterol and nutrient levels 'identical'

This is to an extent misconceived. The "free range" people are motivated mainly by anti-cruelty ideas as far as I know

Their richly coloured yolks certainly make them more appealing to the eye and have led some to believe they are more nutritious. But free-range eggs are no better for us than the battery farmed alternative, scientists have found.

It means that while many reasons may remain for buying free-range – such as the welfare of the hens – health benefits are not among them. Researchers discovered that the two types of eggs contained almost identical levels of vitamins and cholesterol.

Free-range hens are allowed to roam freely, while battery hens are confined to cramped cages in large warehouses.

Poultry expert Dr Kenneth Anderson compared the nutritional content of 500 eggs produced by the different methods over two years. The samples were collected on three occasions and sent to laboratories which analysed the levels of certain vitamins and fats.

The U.S. team found that although the yolks of free-range eggs were darker, they were not actually healthier. Levels of vitamin A, needed for healthy skin and bones, and vitamin E, which is essential for protecting the body's cells, were the same.

Dr Anderson also found no difference in the levels of cholesterol, which can clog arteries to cause heart attacks and strokes.

Writing in the journal Poultry Science, Dr Anderson, of North Carolina State University, concluded that 'a significant nutritional advantage of eggs produced by chickens housed on range versus in cages could not be established'. He said: 'The key takeaway from this research is that an egg, no matter where it's produced, is a very nutritious product.

'Eggs from a range production environment did have higher levels of total fat than eggs produced by caged hens, but they did not have higher levels of cholesterol.'

The research also found that both types of egg contained less cholesterol than previously thought.

Last year another study claimed that free-range eggs could in fact be less healthy than those from battery hens as they contained far more pollution. Scientists in Taiwan found levels of potentially toxic substances were up to eight times higher.

They said that up to 17 per cent of free-range eggs contained chemicals linked to these substances, which contribute to a range of health issues in humans including cancer and fertility problems.

Eggs have fallen out of favour in recent decades partly as a result of health warnings over high levels of cholesterol and links to heart disease.

But earlier this year a team from Surrey University claimed that eggs helped dieters to lose weight as they made them feel fuller for longer.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They measured the nutrient levels?

Did it ever occur to them to also try "tasting" the eggs?

I personally can't eat eggs but the rest of my family says the free range eggs taste much better though that may also be a function of their being consumed fresher.