I swear I don’t mean to pick on statins. There’s just so much about them in the news right now. A colleague of mine pointed me to an excellent website that puts findings on prescription drugs into perspective, and I think it’s important information to share.
Most studies showing benefits of drugs (or other substances), tout the results showing that taking the drug (or other substance) changes something more than would be expected from chance alone. For example, a positive study would be one showing that taking statins lowers cholesterol more than taking a placebo pill would do. In this case, the idea is that lowering cholesterol reduces heart-disease risk, and that statins therefore help prevent heart disease.
What the drug studies often don’t advertise, however, is how many people need to take the drug to see any positive or negative effect on the larger diseases the treatment is intended to address. This is called the “numbers needed to treat,” and can be very telling. The website my colleague recommended looks at numbers needed to treat for different classes of drugs.
Do statins help prevent heart disease? The numbers are not encouraging: (more…)
How’s this for a catch 22: Statin drugs are prescribed to lower cholesterol levels in the body in an effort to reduce risks from heart disease, but end up raising risks for the very condition they’re intended to prevent. New research finds the drugs speed up calcification of the coronary and aortic arteries — basically like building bone around blood vessels that need to flex as your heart beats. That increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The effect is more pronounced in people with Type II diabetes — and statins increase the risk of developing diabetes. What to do? If you have high cholesterol, talk with a professional about supplements and dietary changes that can help you get back into balance naturally. Some of the solutions may surprise you! (Via GreenMedInfo.com.)
Trying to lose weight? A recent raft of studies show that more sleep may be just what you need.
Here’s how it works.
First, well-rested people make better food choices. But when you’re sleep deprived, the parts of your brain associated with addiction do more of the decision making. That makes the doughnut look far more appealing than a yummy salmon salad — with predictable consequences for health and weight.
Second, inadequate sleep messes up hormones that control your hunger, satiety and ability to manage blood sugar — the latter having many negative health effects including taking you down the diabetes road.
From that article:
“Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University analyzed studies looking at the impact of sleep deprivation on weight and energy balance that were published between 1996 and 2011. They found in several studies that getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night is linked with increases in the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, decreases in insulin sensitivity (a risk factor for diabetes) and decreases in the hormone leptin (which is key for energy balance and food intake).
Scientific American reports the good news: Good sleep helps you lose significantly more weight:
“Researchers found that if dieters got a full night’s rest, they more than doubled the amount of weight lost from fat reserves.”
So how much sleep is enough?
This awesome New York Times article, part of a handout I now give all my patients, describes a couple of research studies that came to the same conclusion: Almost everyone needs 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Just two weeks of getting 6 to 7 hours nightly leads to reaction and cognitive deficits equivalent to being legally drunk. Even worse, those folks are so used to the sleep deficit they don’t even realize how impaired they are. These are the folks who insist they’re fine with just 5 hours of sleep each night. They’re almost definitely not.
So make sure you get your zzzzs. If you’re having trouble, give us a call. We have tools to help.