Statins: A second opinion

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Recent guidelines for lowering cholesterol could result in nearly 13 million more healthy adults being put on statin drugs in the U.S., but one cardiologist says cholesterol lowering statins can be dangerous and there are more natural ways to achieve the same healthy goals.

"My legs were so sore that by the end of the day I could barely stand," Kate Gutman told ABC30.

But now, 52-year-old Katherine Gutman is eating healthy, exercising and painting again. Her doctor attributes her better health to getting off of statin drugs.

Gutman explained, "We went the statin route to try and lower my cholesterol."

But according to Dr. Barbara H. Roberts, MD, FACC, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and author of The Truth about Statins, the drugs can lead patients down a dangerous road.

"The truth about statins is that their benefits are vastly exaggerated and their dangers are highly underplayed," Dr. Roberts told ABC30.

Dr. Roberts says the side effects, especially in women, include an increase in developing diabetes, muscle pain and weakness, kidney and liver damage, and cataracts. But the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend statins for millions who have or are at risk for heart disease, saying in a press release, "No other cholesterol-lowering drug is as effective as statins."

"The vast majority of people who are put on statins, about 75 percent of them, are not put on it because they have vascular disease; they are put on it because they have risk factors," Dr. Roberts explained.

And Dr. Roberts argues those risk factors can be reduced by eating a Mediterranean diet, exercising, reducing stress, maintaining a normal weight and not smoking.

"I feel pretty lucky because my cholesterol really responded," said Gutman.

Without statins, Katherine's cholesterol levels went from 290 to 150 and she's feeling better than ever statin free.

Dr. Roberts says the latest recommendations to put more people on statins are even more detrimental to women because they were under represented in clinical studies to evaluate statins.

For more information, contact:

Barbara H. Roberts, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine

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