To the Editor:
Re “Plan to Widen Use of Statins Has Skeptics” (front page, March 31): The wrong question is being asked. It’s not: “Should Crestor be given to reduce inflammation?” It should be: “What is the cause of chronic inflammation, and what can be done to address these causes?” We and others have shown in peer-reviewed research that lifestyle factors like poor nutrition, lack of exercise, chronic emotional stress and social isolation are underlying causes of chronic inflammation.
C-reactive protein and other biomarkers of inflammation are significantly reduced when people make comprehensive lifestyle changes. And unlike the billions of dollars spent on statin drugs, with the attendant known and unknown side effects (including a 9 percent rise in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is already epidemic), the only side effects of comprehensive lifestyle changes are good ones.
These include reversing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, reductions in LDL cholesterol comparable to what can be achieved with statins, and improvements in gene expression like turning off genes that promote inflammation, prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Sausalito, Calif., April 1, 2010
The writer, a doctor, is founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.