Statins and the Media

100521expI wrote about statins a few weeks ago, that article was inspired by the pain my wife has been experiencing trying to get her familial hypercholesterolaemia under control. Her difficulty is convincing her GP to refer her for the right tests and make the right prescription. She has weighed up the evidence and decided that if they are appropriate she will take them.

All of that was thrown into disarray when the media recently picked up a small detail from a six month old medical report and published headlines along the lines of “Statins Kill 20% of those taking them”

I will now do my part to put the record straight. The original report was published by the BMJ in October 2013 but soon after it was published peers questioned the conclusions. This is normal, “peer review” is how every respected piece of research gains respect. And equally inaccuracies are highlighted and corrected.

The process worked perfectly in this case and in May 2014 the BMJ published this;

The BMJ and the authors of both these articles have now been made aware that this figure is incorrect, and corrections have been published withdrawing these statements. The corrections explain that although the 18-20% figure was based on statements in the referenced observational study by Zhang and colleagues—which said that “the rate of reported statin-related events to statins was nearly 18%,”3 The BMJ articles did not reflect necessary caveats and did not take sufficient account of the uncontrolled nature of Zhang and colleagues’ data.

You can read the original BMJ statement here.

It was this report, the retraction and correction, that the press picked up and drew its information from to create the “Statins Kill” headline. It is shocking that so many people who are making such a difficult decision over their own health are subjected to headlines like this from editors who are simply looking to sell more papers.

I encourage you all, do your own research, draw your own conclusions, and do not be distracted by shocking headlines.

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Stephen Spencer

Journalist, curator and creator. ReadBetween is my outlet, your welcome to join in. I have also built connitor.com a sporting web site for runners, riders and swimmers.

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