[ASC-list] Statins proving to be a good debate for the understanding of medical research

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Tue Nov 5 07:34:40 UTC 2013

Good to see this issue appear on the list. Is this a piece of great journalism or a shocking example of poor science communication. 

I've not seen the program but the promotion of it, and the nature of the Catalyst defence of the show rang alarm bells for me. It was just too strong. If they'd been more considered - "statins doing good but over-prescribed, reminds us that we still don't know what causes heart attacks etc etc" then I might have bought in. But their 'Today Tonight' style language, " certainly scientific fraud, and in its effect it's organised crime" was a worry. 

That was reinforced when I learnt of the leading Australian researchers who refused to participate - a very strong and unusual reaction in Australia. 

But Norman Swan's comments seal it for me. He waited, thought about it and responsed, "People will die as a result of the Catalyst program unless people understand at heart what the issues are."

I trust Norman. 



Niall Byrne
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-----Original Message-----
From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Susan Kirk
Sent: Tuesday, 5 November 2013 5:11 PM
To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: [ASC-list] Statins proving to be a good debate for the understanding of medical research

As one who treats big Pharma with heavy scepticism; one with a history of familial hypercholesterolemia,and one that stopped taking statins over a
year ago. I've been watching this debate with interest.   My CV risk has
increased recently and I now have to make a decision about whether to continue taking this drug, more particularly whether it will reduce my risk and I believe the 'jury is still out.'

But interestingly, the issues which began with a catalyst program http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/heartofthematter/ might be a large lesson to all about the proper analyses of medical research and could be a bit of an eye opener, I believe, for the medical profession, who as Dr Ernest Curtis says, "tend to learn by route and are not critical thinkers." and quotes Max Plank (German Physicist) saying "new scientific theories are never adopted because the proponents of the old theories are brought around and see the light rather they have to die off and the next generation have to look at it anew and that's true."  He can't understand why the medical profession even accepted the pathological process of atherosclerosis.
For those with a subscription to Medical Observer there has been some murmurings.  Before the airing they called for the ABC to stop the program, based on fears by the medical profession that patients will discontinue statins http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/news/fears-patients-will-be-scared-off-sta

Then this: http://vitualis.com/?p=505 which looks at a more critical way of deciding whether a patient (low risk) should be prescribed statins.  The outcome, no.  But seriously how much time does a Dr have to go through the process?

Today we have this commentary

with some comments that need closer analysis (sorry if I keep spelling this word wrong) and interpretation. People will die.  Well I think that's at the heart of the debate isn't it?  Apparently the statins don't stop you dying.
Then we have a statement about Aboriginal people?? Then Norman Swan, now respectfully, but really?  ³But nobody ever died of taking a statin, as far as I¹m aware. But if you are at high risk of heart disease, and you throw away your statins and go back to a bad diet, you could die.²  Yes going back to a bad diet is a def no no.  But what about this in the book The Great Cholesterol Con that states "the original statin cerivastatin was voluntarily withdrawn after killing rather too many people."

Now back to me celebrations.....


Susan Fairbairn (nee Kirk)   B.comm  freelance Journalist
Member and Queensland Web Editor -  Australian Science Communicators (ASC) Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
tel: +61 7 5478 6761 | mobile: 0414645953 | email: susan at susankirk.com.au www.susankirk.com.au |  Skype: susanakirk | Tweet: @SusanAKirk Facebook group: Plant Power

³If you don¹t ask the right questions you won¹t get the right answers.²

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