Dr. Mehmet Oz slammed the controversial new guidelines for statins as unnecessarily broad on the June 25 episode of the Dr. Oz Show. **This episode originally aired Nov. 25, 2013.
Dr. Oz said the number of people taking statins could double under the recently issued guidelines, which prescribes the cholesterol-lowering drug to people who don't even need it.
The guidelines, which were released in November 2013 by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, could have up to 72 million Americans on statins (a twofold increase from 36 million now).
Critics say if it were up to the pharmaceutical companies, we would all be taking statins or some other prescription drug, whether we need them or not.
Lifestyle Changes Like Diet and Exercise Have Been Proven to Work
Dr. Oz, a heart surgeon, vehemently opposes the idea of doctors flippantly advising patients to pop a pill when diet and exercise — not drugs — should be the first line of defense. "For the vast majority of people, statins should not be the first line of defense," he said.
Statins are usually prescribed to people with high cholesterol but are also used to fight heart disease. Under the new guidelines, statins are recommended to a much larger group, including:
- Anyone between the ages of 40 and 75 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Anyone with a history of cardiovascular disease or stroke.
- Anyone aged 40 to 75 who have no heart disease but have a 10-year risk of heart attack or stroke that is 7.5% or higher (the triggering risk before was 20%).
- Anyone over age 21 who have LDL (bad cholesterol) levels of 190 or higher.
Dr. Oz said the guidelines put too much emphasis on drugs and take the focus off lifestyle changes that have been proven to reduce cholesterol and heart disease, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Dr. Oz is also concerned that people who don't want to take drugs and are trying to manage their heart-disease risk through diet and exercise could feel pressured to go on medication.
Statins Side Effects Include Liver and Muscle Damage
The potential side effects of statins include an increased risk of diabetes (particularly in women), muscle pain, muscle damage, digestive issues, memory loss, and liver damage.
Dr. Oz said many people can improve their cholesterol and reduce their risk of heart attack without drugs by making simple lifestyle changes, including the following:
- Follow a diet that's high in heart-healthy fats such as olive oil.
- Don't smoke.
- Take aspirin.
- Get enough sleep (seven to eight hours a night).
- Lose weight if you're overweight and get rid of belly fat.
Obesity Experts: LCHF Ketogenic and Atkins Diets Curb Heart Disease
Nutrition expert Dr. Jonny Bowden (who previously appeared on the Dr. Oz Show), told me the best way to prevent heart disease and high cholesterol is through a low-carb, high fat diet like Atkins or the ketogenic diet.
Bowden says dietary fat has been wrongly blamed as the cause of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease for the past 40 years.
“I think the notion that saturated fat and cholesterol are the demons in the diet is 100% wrong,” he said. “When you look at the data, it’s very clear: Most of what we’ve been told about saturated fat and cholesterol is simply not so.”
According to Bowden, there's no scientific evidence supporting the widespread belief that eating fat makes you fat or fuels degenerative diseases.
The irony is that the foods we were taught are good for us — breads, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes — are the very ones that are killing us. Our bodies convert these foods to sugar almost instantly. Sugar raises insulin, which causes inflammation, which is the fundamental cause of heart disease.”
Similarly, Dr. Westman, director of the Duke University Obesity Clinic, has helped hundreds of morbidly obese individuals lose thousands of pounds on the ketogenic and Atkins diets. He is pleased that mainstream media is finally debunking the myth that eating unprocessed saturated fat makes you fat and sick. To the contrary, he said: Eating fat makes you skinny and healthy.
"I tell my patients not to fear the fat," said Dr. Westman, author of A New Atkins for a New You and Cholesterol Clarity. "Eat lots of fat. Fat makes you feel full. There's no problem with fat. In fact, saturated fat — the fat that we've been taught not to eat — raises your good cholesterol best of all the foods you can eat."