Cate Shanahan, M.D.: You could look at anybody walking on the street and I betcha they’d be on at least three prescriptions and if they’re above 50 they’re probably on more. I will prescribe blood pressure, I will prescribe anti-depressants, I will prescribe lots of medications but the one I almost never prescribe is the cholesterol pills.
James Saccomano: If I walk in, are you worried if I have high cholesterol?
Steve Rogoff, M.D.: I don’t know how cholesterol got put out as the cause of heart disease.
James Saccomano: So you don’t watch much TV, I guess.
Steve Rogoff, M.D.: Well, no I got the party line, I got the memo’s.
It’s not the cholesterol that causes the blockage in the artery that causes the heart attack.
It’s when that cholesterol in the wall breaks down and creates an inflammatory reaction, it recruits all the platelets to make a block there.
So the cholesterol itself can be stable, it’s the inflammation that causes this plaque, if you will, to rupture and create this kind of terminal event. It turns out that Lipitor and all of those statin drugs are anti-inflammatories and they lower cholesterol.
Cate Shanahan, M.D.: Most of the pills we take work by kind of blocking the action of another protein or something and it’s a temporary effect when the body metabolizes the drug, everything is
as it was.
Not so with cholesterol pills, the cholesterol pills are kind of, should be thought of in the category of chemotherapy. They block your body’s ability to manufacture a vital nutrient, cholesterol.
Steve Rogoff, M.D.: Cholesterol is in the body for a reason cholesterol is the precursor to all of the hormones, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, cortisol. That all comes from cholesterol, so if you block that, you kind of lose the body’s ability to
make all that stuff.
So then you have every chronic fatigue…
James Saccomano: So now I’ve got chronic fatigue?
Steve Rogoff, M.D.: Well eventually you might, Fibromyalgia…
James Saccomano: But my cholesterol is good?
Steve Rogoff, M.D.: Exactly.
Cate Shanahan, M.D.: Your body is now blunted in its ability to heal and grow and so the statins have been associated with cancers, they’ve been associated with neurological problems, probably because your brain is 15 percent cholesterol by weight and when you block the brain’s ability to manufacture cholesterol.
Well, does it lose 15 percent? I mean, it could.
I’ve had several patients in the past few years on statins and no other drug develop these very rare, weird infections and have problems that I don’t see in most people not taking this drug. Unless they’re very, very old or otherwise immune suppressed.
It causes problems that are not always reversible.
Steve Rogoff, M.D.: Then you go back to “well, are there other agents that are safer that might be anti-inflammatory? The answer is, yes.
Fish oils and more important than something you can add to your body, what is in your body that we can take away from it? What’s causing the inflammation?
It’s foods that you’re allergic to, it’s a lack of Vitamin D, it’s a lack of some of the good hormones or an overabundance of the other hormones.
Cate Shanahan, M.D.: I would rather have people change their diet. It’s just like, you know, fixing a clock, you just put things in place and it starts working again.
Steve Rogoff, M.D.: I’m not saying theirs not a use for it, but I challenge anybody to go to their cardiologist and not take Lipitor and see what they tell you.