When women tell me that “someone told them” that they should be on statins, I’ve been pointing out that there is a serious lack of study concerning the health benefits and risks of statins used in women. Women have long been neglected or assumed to be just insignificantly different from men when it comes to clinical studies, the far majority done on males and assumed to be true for women too. Okay, that’s another subject for another day.
So it was great to see that a study was undertaken looking seriously at statin use in women, particularly postmenopausal women. Over 150,000 women, aged 50 to 79, were followed for 3 years through the Women’s Health Initiative. The risk held true whether or not the women had any cardiovascular disease and amounted to a whopping 48% increased risk of diabetes. And diabetes, I might add, increases anyone’s risk of heart disease, that is true for women and men.
Why were women (why is anyone) without cardiovascular disease even prescribed statins? There is little if any evidence that statins offer a benefit in the absence of heart disease.
There are many things to say, primarily that the focus on cholesterol is misguided. The operative risk factor is actually triglycerides, rather than the maligned LDL, which can actually be both good (lipoprotein A) and bad (lipoprotein B), and you don’t know which one you have without further testing. But you can make a very good estimate from the triglyceride level: over 100, your LDL is probably, sorry, the bad one. Low triglycerides and high HDL, it’s probably the good one!
The eating guidelines we offer in the Weight Loss Diet as well as the Diabetes Type 2 Health Action section will both lower triglycerides, raise HDL and lower your risk of heart disease AND diabetes, together. Oh, and this is true whether you are a woman or a man.