They say there are two things you never want to see being made: laws, and sausages.
Let's add a third one to that list: medical guidelines. Especially for widely used drugs like cholesterol meds.
The rules, regulations and procedures your doctor is expected to follow -- the guidelines he's supposed to use when making critical decisions about your health -- are the product of a badly flawed system heavily stacked in favor of the drug industry.
And if you want more proof of that, take a closer look at the new statin guidelines.
These are the new rules that are supposed to double the use of cholesterol meds, putting millions of people with normal cholesterol levels onto the drugs.
But these new rules weren't created by unbiased and impartial scientists. No, these industry-friendly guidelines were created by... well... friends of the industry.
And the conflicts start at the top.
The chair of the 15-member panel had financial ties to six different makers of cholesterol meds. He says he cut those ties when he was named chair, as if Big Pharma conflicts are a switch you can flick on and off at will.
It doesn't work like that -- and he's not the only one with major conflicts.
Two of the panel's key co-chairs also had financial conflicts. And if that's not enough, the entire panel was stacked in favor of the drug industry, with 8 of the 15 members reporting financial ties to Big Pharma, according to BMJ.
Yes -- the exact number needed to form a majority. Coincidence? I'll let you decide, but I think the proof is in the pudding: The guidelines are expected to double the number of statin users to 72 million Americans, or 60 percent of the entire population over 45.
If these massive conflicts were the only problem with the new guidelines, it would be enough to ignore them completely. Unfortunately, it's not the only problem.
The new guidelines are based on calculating a patient's 10-year risk of a heart attack. If that risk hits 7.5 percent or higher, doctors are supposed to put the patient on statins.
They've even been given a tool to figure it all out, an online "risk calculator."
That makes it sound like a scientific instrument, right? The word "calculator" suggests nothing but cold, hard, objective numbers. But in this case, the numbers don't add up -- because Harvard University researchers have found that the calculator wildly overestimates heart risk.
On average, the calculator will overshoot your heart risk by between 75 percent and 150 percent. That means millions of people who shouldn't get the cholesterol meds even based on the expansive new guidelines could be put on them anyway.
There's already talk of adjusting the calculator, but don't waste your time waiting for those tweaks. There are better, safer and more reliable ways to protect your heart whether your risk is low, high or somewhere in between -- and you don't have to go near a statin to get this protection.
Start with the heart-friendly nutrients I recommend to my own patients: L-Carnitine, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. Then work with your own naturopathic doctor to tailor an approach that's right for you.