Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cholesterol-Lowering Medications and Inflammation

Big Pharma is now making a push that cholesterol lowering medications should be used in anyone with signs of inflammation. The Jupitor study (NEJM. VOl 359; 2008) looked at the use of Crestor (a statin drug) in “healthy” individuals who had elevated laboratory tests showing inflammation (via a blood test known as the CRP test). The use of Crestor was reported to decrease CRP by 37%. (NOTE: I discuss this study and others in more detail in my new book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, 2nd Edition).

Inflammation has been thought to be the underlying cause (or one of the underlying causes) of a wide variety of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. The CRP test is a well-accepted laboratory measure of inflammation.

Unfortunately, inflammation is occurring at epidemic rates in our society. I routinely check my patients for inflammatory markers and I am amazed at the high number of patients suffering from elevated inflammation markers and inflammatory diseases.

What are the signs of inflammation? Pain, swelling, and redness are the most common signs. A bloated abdomen, fatigue and even brain fog can be related to inflammation. You can see that inflammatory conditions can cause a wide range of problems.

Why do so many suffer from inflammation? I have no doubt that diet is the main cause. Eating a diet full of refined foods markedly increases your chances of developing inflammation. The Standard American Diet (SAD ) ensures your body will be deficient in vital nutrients which prevent and heal inflammatory conditions. Furthermore, failure to drink adequate amounts of water worsens any inflammatory condition.

So, what can you do if you have signs of inflammation? A recent study showed that Vitamin C reduced CRP by 25% versus placebo (Free Rad. Biol. and Med. 46;2009). The authors of this study claimed that the effect of vitamin C was similar to those of statins.

I say, take your vitamin C (2-5,000mg/day), drink adequate amounts of water and eat a diet full of unrefined foods. This is an inexpensive way to treat or avoid getting an inflammatory condition. Furthermore, this therapy is virtually free of adverse effects.


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