The FDA announced this week that it is adding a warning label to the use of statins regarding the increased risk for developing diabetes from taking these cholesterol lowering drugs. An analysis of studies regarding selenium, a mineral that are bodies need trace amounts for cellular function, showed that at a daily dose of 200 milligrams, the dose recently recommended on the Dr. Oz show, there is an increased risk of diabetes and cancer. Finally, in another review of studies, the two essential fatty acids found in fish oil, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), were found to provide no additional benefit for heart or overall health above 200 milligrams per day.
These three studies bare some closer inspection for what they represent. In the U.S., if your cholesteol even thinks about going up, some doctor will rush to put you on it. There is no question that for some people statins are necessary, but the epidemic of users is one of the greatest marketing ploys of all time. I use to have cholesterol of around three hundred and was put on Lipitor which caused my legs to cramp while sleeping. Then I switched to simvastatin and my cholesterol dropped. Then I switched my diet, stopped the simvastatin and saw my cholesterol drop even further to 139. I took control of my health and that has made all the difference. You should too. I believe that the new statin warning is the first warning shot across the bow of the dangers of long tern statin use. This is not the end of the story and I fear what comes next. I am not recommending you stop taking your statin until you have a plan to lower and keep your cholesterol low by diet and exercise. If you want to know how I did it, give me a call at (617) 319-6434.
The selenium story is notable because of the rising popularity of selenium supplements. Many of these supplements were touted for their cancer-prevention effects. Oops. Turns out to be the opposite. Our bodies need very little selenium which we can obtain from nuts, particularly Brazil nuts, fish like Tuna, mushrooms, etc. It is believed that our body contains less than 20 mg of selenium so adding ten times that amount each day should never have made sense. Even 5 times makes no sense. Once again, it turns out that taking a supplement that the marketers would have you believe was helping you was actually doing the opposite. Can you trust any supplement that promises such a benefit in the absence of valid, supporting scientific evidence or in response to a known deficiency? I caution yet again against haphazard supplementation.
Finally, I have always been amazed by Super and Ultra Fish Oil marketers. They obviously operate on the principle that if a little is good for you, then a lot must be great. Once again, it turns out not to be the case. In fact, fish oil is fatty acids and they are fattening in excess. No one needs an excess of anything and that includes fish oil. In fact, I believe you are better off eating wild Alaskan salmon 2-3 times a week and skipping the fish oil pills altogether.
So the take-away from these headlines is don't, I repeat don't take pills, prescription or otherwise, unless you absolutely need them. Learn what you really need, how much of it is essential to your diet, and how to get it naturally when you can. That's probably the best advice any doctor or friend can give you.