A frequent conversation point among my patients, as well as participants in the www.trackyourplaque.com program, is "Are cholesterol medications really necessary?"
No, they are not. What IS necessary is to correct all manifest and hidden causes of coronary plaque. Among these causes, in my view, is LDL cholesterol of 60 mg/dl or greater. There are many other causes of coronary plaque--e.g., small LDL particles, unrecognized hypertension, Lp(a), hidden diabetic patterns, etc.--but reducing LDL to 60 mg is still an important part of a plaque-reversing effort.
Insofar as we wish to get LDL to this goal, the statin cholesterol drugs like Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, etc. may play a role. However, they should only be considered after a full effort dietary program is pursued. Don't follow the American Heart Association's diet unless you want to fail. It's nonsense.
For a more detailed discussion of how to use nutrition and nutritional supplements to reduce LDL cholesterol, go to www.lef.org, the website for the Life Extension Foundation. I wrote an article for their magazine called "Cholesterol and Statin Drugs: Separating Hype from Reality". You'll find the article at http://search.lef.org/cgi-src-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=0&page_id=1295&query=davis%2
Can your plaque-reversal efforts succeed without statin drugs? It depends on your causes. For instance, someone with small LDL and Lp(a) only may do great on our basic program and then add niacin. Unfortunately, another person with a starting LDL cholesterol of 240 mg/dl--sky high--will have more success with these drugs.
Believe me, I am no blind supporter of drug companies and their flagrantly profit-seeking practices which, in my view, are cut-throat, shoving anyone and anything out of their way to increase profits and market share. I share many of Dr. Dave Warnarowski's views on how vicious their tactics can be; see his recent Blog post at http://www.drdavesbest.com/blog/ called "I smell a rat".
Nonetheless, the deep and well-funded research of the pharmaceutical industry does yield some useful tools. You don't have to love the insect exterminator, but if your house is being eaten by termites, his services can be useful. Same thing with these drugs. Useful--not the complete answer, not even close, but nonetheless useful in the right situations. Sometimes antibiotics are necessary, even life saving. That's how cholesterol drugs are, too.
Take it all in the proper perspective. Your goal is not cholesterol reduction, per se, but plaque control, preferably reversal.