“There are three types of lies: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.”– Benjamin Disraeli
“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”– Mark Twain
Would you risk lifelong diabetes for a possible addition of 3.2 days of life?
That is the risk associated with taking statin drugs and the potential benefit.
There are now over 300 documented negative side effects of taking statin drugs. This drug is supposed to lower the so-called “bad cholesterol.” But does it? Low-Density Lipoproteins (LPD) are really the car that drives fat to your body’s cells.
The theory is by reducing this we can reduce the risk of heart disease.
The marketing materials from big pharma promised us that studies showed it would reduce our risk of heart attack by 50%.
But when you really dig into the data, the risk of a cardiac event in an otherwise healthy person in a high-risk group was relatively low. Less than 2%. They said they could reduce this risk to 1%. Hence the 50% reduction in cardiac risk statistic.
But how many people do you have to treat to get that benefit?
You see, they are not claiming everyone who takes the drug will get the benefit. It turns out that you had to give the drug to over 400 people in order to get one person who would see the benefit of a 1% reduction of their risk.
This little statistic made big pharma billions.
But it also gave many diabetes, muscle aches, impotence and a host of other non-reported problems.
UNDERSTANDING NEEDED TO TREAT
The Number Needed to Treat (NNT) is a vitally important number in understanding big pharma’s propaganda.
When a drug is tested, they want to know how many people you needed to give this drug to before someone saw a benefit.
So, when you look at insulin for type I diabetics the NNT is very low, approaching 1. That nearly everyone who gets insulin lives.
It turns out the number needed to treat in order to stop five significant cardiac events, according to the British Medical Journal, is 1,000 over five years.
So again, would you risk over 300 major side effects for such a small reduction in possible risk?
TESTING AGAINST DOING NOTHING
The other problem with most drug statistics is they don’t talk about what’s the risk of doing nothing.
This is a particular problem with drugs dealing with depression. It is assumed if we take a Prozac, we will feel better and less depressed.
But would you take this drug that could leave you permanently impotent if you knew that your odds of getting over your depression were better if you did not take this drug at all?
Drug trials are very often of 6-8 weeks in duration. But before the anti-depressants hit the market, psychiatrists found it took about six months for severely depressed people to overcome their disease.
When they did, they very rarely relapsed.
But long-term follow-up studies show that people who are treated with anti-depressants may get better quickly but rebound and get depressed again and again.
It is being theorized that these anti-depressant medications permanently alter the brain by changing the serotonin levels in the brain, creating long-term depression, which is one of the reasons why so many people want to instinctively get off the meds that initially held so much promise to them.
Most of this is well-documented in Robert Whitaker’s book “Mad In America.”
It is hard for us to consider, but sometimes thinking long-term and not taking a pill might be the right thing to do.
Often the right thing to do when you have a fever is to let the body heal the infection and not take an aspirin.
If you have questions about what statistics mean in medicine, please put them in the comments below and we will try to answer them in future articles.