The Great Statin Conspiracy

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Has Big Pharma hatched a nefarious scheme designed to hook every American on cholesterol-lowering drugs — despite their dangers?

Conspiracy theories seem to be all the rage these days. We’ve got millions of illegal immigrants bussed across the border to vote, political candidates employing body doubles, kidnapped children imprisoned in the back room of a pizza parlor . . . I could go on. For reasons beyond my grasp, however, nobody at Breitbart or Infowars has caught up with the Great Statin Conspiracy.

Last November, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released a report showing that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs reduced the risk of heart attacks among people who had managed to avoid them in the past. As is usual in these sorts of deep scientific epiphanies, it wasn’t long before people in the know were recommending that every adult over the age of 40 with the slightest chance of developing heart disease — as much as half of that population, by some estimates — jump on the statin bandwagon.

Big Pharma skeptics, and even a few physicians, noted at the time that folks should be wary of the drug’s many side effects — an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, stroke, lung disease, memory loss, muscle aches, and fatigue — while the more combative of the naysayers pointed out how many people had died of heart attacks while taking the drug.

Still others argued that statins were needed because their patients were so averse to behavior change. As Roxanna Mehran, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, told the New York Daily News, “Modifying your lifestyle risk factors is the best way to go, but is everyone going to get out there and do that? We know they’re not.”

And even if our burgeoning army of statin users were ready to hit the gym, they’re probably not going to be happy with the results.

A new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that statins tend to make exercise more difficult and less beneficial. Lab mice given the drug lagged far behind their statin-free colleagues in distance traveled and saw their energy and strength decline.

Statin devotees can make of this what they wish — mice are not human, after all — but lead study author Marni Boppart, a professor of physiology, believes the findings are significant. “The results from this study suggest that statins may reduce the desire to participate in a voluntary or prescribed exercise training program,” she told the New York Times.

I’m not saying this is all part of some grand scheme to get everyone to start taking statins — and stay on them forever, regardless of their dangers — but if you start connecting the dots, you can’t help thinking something’s up: Big Pharma convinces research institutes to promote the life-saving benefits of statins to sedentary Americans . . . public-health officials recommend that even healthy folks might be better off taking the drug unless they start exercising . . . new study indicates statins prevent productive exercise.

And it probably doesn’t mean anything, but I read somewhere that our incoming president takes statins and doesn’t really exercise. This becomes more intriguing when you realize that one of his top advisers used to run Breitbart, which someone I met at a bar the other night told me has actually been taken over by former DNC staffers who now refuse to cover the statin issue. Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation — which I’ve heard really runs everything — has probably accepted billions of dollars in donations from Big Pharma, which I seem to recall Julian Assange once hinting is actually controlled by Putin. You can do the math.

Before you jump to conclusions, though, I just want to be clear that I have no idea if Mitt Romney is mixed up in any of this. Let’s just say there’s been some talk. . . .

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