There is no research showing statins will prevent heart disease when our children reach middle age. No research. If there were research, it would take fifty years to conduct it on our kids. And, what would be studied? Heart disease risk, of course, but also the risk of developing severe liver disease, muscle problems, and other side effects from taking decades of statins. If the research doesn't sound ethical, how could it be ethical to start treating our kids without any studies?
Cholesterol is critical for brain function. Does the AAP really think that kids' brains will develop normally by reducing cholesterol in their body? Remember, they haven't even studied it! Our nerves are surrounded by fatty insulation which serves the same function as plastic insulation around electric wire.
Dr. Ronald Hoffman puts it this way:
Cholesterol is actually essential for the developing brain. The brainSignificantly, statin drugs also deplete co-enzyme Q10 -- a critical substance our cells need to make energy for our bodies. Do we want our children to become more sloth-like with mitochondrial dysfunction? That's the effect of depleting co-Q10.
is largely composed of cholesterol. Even in adults, a connection has
been demonstrated between higher cholesterol--especially HDL--and
better brain function. What's bad for the ticker is good for the brain.
Children's brains are rapidly growing and forming new nerve
connections, and limiting cholesterol, either via an ultra-restrictive
low-fat diet or through artificial cholesterol blockade might have
unforeseeable effects on brain development.
Particularly unnerving is that the usefulness of statins in adults has been under increased scrutiny. BusinessWeek boldly ran a story in January with the following headline and subtitle: Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good? Research suggests that, except among high-risk heart patients, the benefits of statins such as Lipitor are overstated
For that story, BusinessWeek interviewed Dr. James M. Wright who the magazine says "is no ordinary family physician. A professor at the University of British Columbia, he is also director of the government-funded Therapeutics Initiative, whose purpose is to pore over the data on particular drugs and figure out how well they work." Here is how Dr. Wright characterized his statin and heart disease findings:
[He] had a surprise when he looked at the data for the majority ofPrescribing statins to kids makes no sense to me, but it must make 'cents' to Pfizer. Pfizer makes $30 million a year from Lipitor with the current prescribing guidelines. Do they really need to target our kids to make more money?
patients...who don't have heart disease. He found no benefit
in people over the age of 65, no matter how much their cholesterol
declines, and no benefit in women of any age. He did see a small
reduction in the number of heart attacks for middle-aged men taking
statins in clinical trials. But even for these men, there was no
overall reduction in total deaths or illnesses requiring
hospitalization—despite big reductions in "bad" cholesterol. "Most
people are taking something with no chance of benefit and a risk of
I say no, not my kids. I'll give them as healthy a diet and lifestyle as possible and (gasp!) take our chances on heart disease. Though I'm sure my hesitation can be cured. Maybe Pfizer has an anti-anxiety drug for parents nervous about their kids taking statins. Nervustatiximab, maybe?
Alix originally authored a version of this post for the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.