Customer Reviews: Statins: Miraculous or Misguided?
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on May 19, 2013
The author appears to discuss much of the information by reflecting both sides of the story. So far so good. However in the critical section about the benefits of statins, he makes statements that are easily disproven. He states:" Statins are largely responsible for cutting American's death rate from heart disease by 50%....between 1980 and 2000..." Later he states that:" American's diet did not become more healthful during this time...." Later in the book he shows a graph which indicates that statin use was minuscule for the period 1988-1994 for men and women aged 45-64 with no data for older groups.

The facts do not support his claim at all. Cigarette smoking (a proven factor in heart disease) peaked in America around 1962 and heart disease dropped continuously as smoking was reduced, albeit with a time lag. So the trend of decreasing heart disease was in place long before statins became fashionable in the 1990's. Further he claims that the statins were responsible for the drop in the 1980's when, by his own figures, statins were not widely used. If you peruse the statistics of the Department for agriculture "Nutrient components of the US food supply, 1909-1999" (available from Amazon) you will notice that the diet of Americans became dramatically more healthful from 1970-79 to 1990-99. Food content of carbs and fiber increased, saturated fat and cholesterol decreased and large increases were noted for content of iron, vitamin E, carotenes, vitamins B2, B3 and B9. (B12 decreased). These figures understate the improvement as nutrient supplements became ubiquitous. Even though more calories were consumed, which may well become a problem in the future, the food quality has improved, partially due to food fortification. Further he gives no credit to many other factors such as ever improving emergency treatments of heart attacks.

On the end of the book you are no wiser about whether you personally should take statins, but the exaggerated claim above may convince you that statins are a miracle indeed.
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on May 17, 2014
This book is based on outdated information that can readily shown be be incorrect. He is still buying the big fat lie that saturated animal fats increase cholesterol and that cholesterol caused CVD. It does have some slight virtue as it warns of some of the many terrible side effects of statins. However he is clearly biased in favor of statins for the masses, whereas current research shows that they have only a very limited and short term effective use. Long term they are simply not effective for either primary or secondary CVD prevention and increase rather than decrease long term morbidity and mortality.

Reads well though.
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on October 24, 2014
Anyone trying to sort out what’s true about the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins is getting involved in a very confusing and complicated task. Some writers call these drugs, such as Lipitor, close to “miraculous”--almost wanting to put them in the water supply for everyone’s benefit. Others see them as “misguided,” and would prefer a more natural approach that doesn't involve a lifetime of taking a pill with who-knows-what adverse side effects.

This book is a balanced guide to sorting out our options. The author fairly lays out the case for each side. He shows us in clear and simple terms just what statins are and how statins work to control the levels of cholesterol in our body.

Some doctors dismiss the use of statins as they are currently prescribed. The author tells us why. Some countries have similar cholesterol levels to ours...but very different heart disease rates. Why would that be? When 25% of Americans 45 and older are on a drug to control a condition that hardly occurs in some parts of the world, we have to ask: If having high cholesterol is, for the most part, a lifestyle-induced problem, wouldn't it be healthier to focus on a lifestyle-centered solution? Who is really behind the push to get even more of the population on board? (Hint: Who would profit financially?)

Is having a high cholesterol reading actually a sign that a person is likely to die earlier than he should? A number of researchers would disagree. Some studies show that those taking statins, while having fewer heart attacks, actually have a higher death rate compared to those not taking statins. I would like to have seen this addressed by the author.

I’m giving the book a high rating. It gives information we need to make informed decisions about our own health care. It’s quite readable, making a complicated subject more understandable.
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VINE VOICEon December 1, 2014
If you do a search for books about statins, you'll find that most of them fall on one side of the fence or the other. They are either wildly pro-statin or wildly anti-statin.

If you're doctor has recommended statins for you and you're sitting on the fence trying to decide, you probably long, as I did, for a balanced and complete review written for the general reader. This book, while a good start, is not the book you want.

Estren does a good job of setting out the history of statins and giving you the medical mainstream's arguments for it. Other reviews have said that the cited research may not be the most complete, unbiased, or current, and I don't know enough to speak on that.

I do know that, he seems pretty strongly pro-statins and doesn't pay enough attention to the possible dangers. He doesn't even really look at them well enough to debunk them. Readers should be disappointed that his account isn't more balanced, because if they come looking for information about the controversy, they will not find it.

His main suggestions for alternatives to statins are niacin, and lifestyle changes. In fact much of his book deals with lifestyle changes, and recommendations from several sources. He covers these in great detail. I wish he had paid that much attention to alternative therapies.

So the book feels incomplete. It's also not very interesting. Estren writes in a very pedestrian style that makes reading something like this a real chore. When coupled with what looks like summarizing some medical websites and many magazine articles into book form, you get something that didn't really answer my questions or take me off the fence.

I wish it had gone further.
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on May 26, 2013
I've been taking statins for years and have recently heard many things about whether this is a wise thing to do. I found this book to be an exceptionally readable presentation of all sides of the issue. Beside explaining the basics of cholesterol and statins, it does a very good job, I thought, of explaining, in clear, understandable language, the different sides of the various controversies surrounding statins. Best of all, at the end the book provides a whole set of questions to ask your doctor so that you and he can determine what is the best ourse for your individual situation. It's refreshing to read a book that assumes the reader is an intelligent person capable of weighing information and making their own decision. And it is a treat to be able to read a book about medical issues that is clear and understandable.
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on May 25, 2013
Statins: Miraculous or Misguided? by Mark Estren, Ph.D., a medical writer is intended for the public, not physicians although, I was surprised by how much data Dr. Estren provides. While Statins reads easily it also contains a lot of scientific data and is organized in sections. So often, physicians simply prescribe statins for their patients without always informing them of dangerous side effects including chronic and life threatening ones. Many people need lifestyle changes in diet, sleep and exercise that might prevent the *need* for statin use. There are also people who already have vascular conditions and hereditary factors that put them at much higher risk for developing fatal complications. Deciding to take a statin and how it affects one's health is much more complex. Dr. Estren provides an easy read of material about the pros and cons of taking statins. Most Internet sites are biased in their material presented about statins. This is a highly individual decision. This book would make an excellent resource in a physician's office or as a hand out to patients so they can work with their physician to make the best decision. The entire point is that statins are not for everyone but, in some cases they can be life saving.
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VINE VOICEon October 18, 2014
I believe before you take a statin that your doctor will prescribe for you that you do some research. This book tries to gives you both sides of the story. I would recommend that you read this book, but you should also look up the side affects of statins. One of the worst side affect is dementia or alzheimers. My wife's father and my aunt were on statins and they died with alzheimers. In addition, from my research you only have a 50-50 chance of coming down with a heart attack or stroke if you take a statin. I would rather die from a heart attack or stroke before I would burden my family to take care of me if I came down with alzheimers.
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on May 25, 2013
If you are person with no specific training in medicine and have been looking for a relatively quick and easy to read method to gain an understanding of how medications are developed, tested and prescribed then this is a book worth reading, even if your interest is not specifically in statins. Today, it is virtually impossible to turn on TV and not see a commercial by some drug company suggesting that its product is a treatment you should be recommending to your doctor that they prescribe for you. If you are like me and want to more actively participate in your healthcare, but do not feel comfortable engaging in significant conversation with your physician about the medications they are proposing to prescribe for you or alternative treatments then this book will help build that confidence. It will not give you an answer as to whether statins are right for you, but it will give an understanding of how drugs can be used and an appreciation of the differences in the medical community as to the appropriate use of these medications.

It is also a fun and easy read and you will find yourself being drawn from chapter to chapter by the author's technique of ending a discussion of a topic by raising another issue to be explored. When you finish the book you will still be faced with the question, if it is relevant to your condition, is the use of a statin or for that matter any other drug, right for me. But you will feel far more capable and confident of actively participating with your physician in answering that question.
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on June 20, 2013
This book is very easy to read, not overly technical, with clear explanations when technical terms are used. I found it not only informative but very enjoyable reading as well. Dr. Estren takes us, chapter-by-chapter, through a wide range of issues regarding statin drugs, their history, uses, and controversies. He does not attempt to dictate answers to the reader, rather his point is to inform and educate; and he does this very well. It is easy to read the book in one sitting: it is to-the-point and not overly-long. I look forward to reading other books by Dr. Estren on medical matters, as they become available.
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on May 25, 2013
I never understood statins until I read this book. My doctor never had time to talk about them -- he just said to take them. Finally I found something that really explains what the medicines are and what they do and why some doctors seem to love them and others don't. I really like the way the book gives all sides of the story without pushing any agenda. It has comments from top doctors and hospitals and also from nutritionists and people who object to statins. It doesn't force any point of view -- it gives the facts and the arguments and lets readers make up their own minds. It's easy to read and very fair to all sides. Now I know what to watch out for when taking my medicine, and I also know to ask my doctor about it!
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