Adding Statins to the Drinking Water? – 4 Natural Ways to Lower Inflammation
Posted Dec 15 2009 2:00am
In Friday’s issue of Total Health Breakthroughs, I wrote about inflammation – the silent killer. When inflammation occurs on your body – often associated with redness, pain and swelling – it is obvious. When it is associated with a fever or infection in your body, it is obvious then too.
But chronic, subclinical inflammation leaves very few clues. And yet, it is a cornerstone of physical aging and the primary cause for a host of degenerative diseases. That is why it is important to know how much inflammation is in your body – and take measures to lower it.
The best marker for inflammation is C-reactive protein. I recommend that you have your CRP measured the next time you go for a checkup. But there is something you might need to watch out for. More on that below…
The Hidden Danger in Getting Your CRP Tested
This time last year, you could hardly turn on the news or pick up a newspaper without hearing about the benefits revealed in a new drug study. It was called the JUPITER study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study was funded by AstraZeneca to research the effects of their cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor. The trial was intended to last five years. But the company felt that the benefits were so great, that it would be inhumane not to allow the placebo subjects access to the drug too.
Statin drugs are well known to lower cholesterol. But until last year, they were not very well known for lowering C-reactive protein. The purpose of the JUPITER study was to test the effects of Crestor on CRP.
The researchers monitored about 18,000 men and women from 26 countries. These subjects had “normal” cholesterol levels. So they would not usually be considered for statin drug treatment. But they did have elevated CRP levels.
The major headlines for JUPITER centered on the finding that the drug reduced cardiac events (heart attack, stroke and bypass surgery) by 44%. But this number is very misleading. Out of the 18,000 participants, only 400 “events” occurred during follow-up. According to an article in Forbes, that means that 95 patients would have to be treated with the drug for two years to prevent just one cardiovascular event.
The JUPITER study also showed that treatment with the drug reduced CRP levels by 37% compared to those treated with a placebo.
And this is why the drug companies were so excited about JUPITER…
Most doctors would be reluctant to prescribe statin drugs when a patient’s cholesterol is below the range that is considered “normal.” But about half of all heart attacks happen in those whose cholesterol levels fall in this range.
The drug companies have lobbied successfully to get those “normal” ranges lowered. That is a big reason why there are now 20 million Americans on statin drugs. But until the JUPITER study, the drug companies were lacking another measure, besides cholesterol, to justify their use.
After the JUPITER study, however, the pharmaceutical companies had the ammunition they needed to push statin drugs, even when a patient’s cholesterol numbers are considered “normal”.
Now we arrive at the “hidden danger” of getting your CRP levels checked…
If you have your CRP measured by a physician, and the result is anything but “optimal,” there is a good chance your doctor is going to recommend a statin drug. In some cases, this “recommendation” may border on intimidation.
This happened to my uncle. He had always had his cholesterol checked. But after he read an article about the importance of CRP, he asked to have it checked at his next doctor visit.
When the results were high, the doctor pressured him to take a statin drug. “He put on a full court press,” my uncle said. “Wouldn’t take no for an answer. He told me that I could have a heart attack at any time and that he would no longer treat me if I didn’t comply.”
This is not unusual. The drug companies and many doctors have adopted a religious zeal for statin drugs. In fact, some time ago I wrote a critical article on the subject. The next day, I got an email from a doctor who told me he believes, “Statin drugs should be mandatory. They should be added to the drinking water.”
I’m not kidding. And unfortunately, neither was he!
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This isn’t just another anti-wrinkle cream. In fact, it goes light years beyond the lotions and potions they sell at cosmetic counters.
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So what is wrong with statins, if they can cut CRP by 37%?
The drug companies are required to acknowledge the side effects of statin drugs in their literature. But they would have you believe that these side effects are very rare. That has not been my experience.
I have personally received dozens of letters from people, detailing their problems with these drugs. And whenever an article on statin drugs runs in a major publication, there are usually hundreds of comments following the article, where readers share their horror stories. In fact, if you have had an experience with statins, positive or negative, please scroll down at the end of this article and contribute your comments. Closer to home, my mother developed severe leg and foot pain from her use of statin drugs. It took nearly six months to go away after she stopped taking it.
Statin drugs are well known to cause liver damage. They can cause extreme muscle pain. They deplete CoQ10 (an important antioxidant that helps to power your heart). They have been shown to destroy the memory. Over the long term, they can also promote cancer. And even if these side effects did not exist, the drugs are not even necessary.
That is because there are many natural, easy and inexpensive ways to address the real causes of inflammation and reduce CRP…
In Friday’s issue, I advised you to choose healthy fats (especially omega-3 oils), avoid hydrogenated fats and omega-6 oils, and eat a low-glycemic diet to reduce inflammation. This is the most important step. Stop eating a diet that promotes inflammation!
Here are five more proven ways to lower inflammation and reduce CRP more than drugs:
Get off your butt and exercise – Research has proven that exercise lowers CRP rapidly and significantly. This is especially true of intense exercise, but even moderate physical activity can help. In one study, people who went from no exercise to a little bit of exercise five times a week cut their CRP levels by as much as 30%.
Take your vitamin D or spend some time in the sun – Sun exposure and vitamin D are extremely effective for reducing inflammation. In one study performed at Queen Mary’s School of Medicine in London, Vitamin D supplementation significantly lowered three different markers for inflammation, including CRP. In a Belgian study of critically ill patients with high levels of inflammation, just 500 IU of vitamin D (barely enough to prevent deficiency) reduced CRP by more than 25 percent!
Take your vitamin C – Researchers at the University of California Berkeley found that supplementing with vitamin C lowered CRP as much as the leading statin drugs. In their study of 400 participants, published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, they found that 1,000 mg/day of vitamin C reduced CRP by 25% in those whose levels were elevated.
Eat more fiber – Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School followed monitored the diet, body composition and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels of over 500 subjects. They found that the risk of elevated CRP levels was 63% lower among those who ate the most fiber.
These are just a few of the dozens of activities, foods and supplements that have a beneficial effect on inflammation and C-reactive protein. In respective studies, each one of these on their own was able to reduce inflammation as effectively as any drug.
Just imagine the changes you could make by applying all of these ideas together, combined with an anti-inflammatory diet. Sure beats taking a pill that could damage your liver, steal your memory and make it difficult to walk without pain.
Your body has an amazing blueprint for health. You just have to give it the raw materials it needs.
Reminding You that Nature Heals!
Editorial Director Total Health Breakthroughs