A large trial of Crestor was stopped early because it reduced inflammation and the risk of a heart attack. How should we interpret the JUPITER trial, and what does it mean for you?

Explore the stories behind the health headlines.

Guests: Paul Ridker, MD, Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. He led the JUPITER trial of Crestor against CRP. The photo is of Dr. Ridker.

Nortin Hadler, MD, Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is attending rheumatologist at UNC Hospitals. His books include The Last Well Person: How to Stay Well Despite the Health Care System and Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America.

Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC, cardiologist at the New England Heart Center in Manchester, CT. He edits the monthly newsletter, “Heart, Health and Nutrition” and is author of several books, including The Sinatra Solution. His Web site is drsinatra.com.

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  1. gmaw

    I found this program so helpful to me and will pass on copies to my internist and rheumatologist for f.y.i. I have problems with my crp level as I have rheumatoid arthritis and when this study hit the news last week I felt hopeless. Now I understand a lot more and will try neutraceuticals to help lower my crp..thx

  2. Roger W.

    Two other concerns with the JUPITER study: 1) the bogus intention-to-treat (ITT) protocol was used, wherein dropouts from the trial are presumed to have continued, and 2) the criteria (low or normal cholesterol, high C-reactive protein) are so unusual that hundreds of test points had to be used to get a reasonable number of test subjects. This study is yet another example of an attempt by a drug manufacturer to “cook the books.” Fortunately for the public, this one backfired. But thousands of well-meaning but deluded physicians will prescribe Crestor, believing incorrectly that they’re helping their patients…

  3. jean s

    I am a retired registered nurse, and a graduate of Duke Univ. School of Nursing, class of 1947. Ten years ago, my doctor prescribed lipitor for elevated cholesterol. I took it for one year, felt awful, extreme fatigue, and was left with neuropathy of my feet, which is getting progressively more advanced as time goes by. I believe the statin drugs are very dangerous, and that the drug companies are really “pushing” physicians into prescribing the statin drugs. There is a web site “Rx lipitor board” (I hope it still exists!) where many, many people complained of bad side effects of lipitor and other statins – one pilot complained of bad memory loss.
    EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE PEOPLE POSTING said that their doctors were not listening to them, and that they were told that lipitor couldn’t have caused their problems. I KNOW that lipitor caused my neuropathy!!
    Once I stopped taking it, my energy level improved but here I am – 10 years later _ with neuropathy that is gradually spreading to both feet (it started just in the toes) I remember when doctors were pushing patients to take hormone replacement therapy. And now, they decide these to be dangerous drugs!! I hope that I live long enough to hear that statin drugs are considered dangerous!! I refuse to take them ever again.

  4. June Russell

    * We need to have the Absolute risk vs. the Relative Risk of all trials – especially Crestor. Please give other caveats that studies seem to omit, such as more prevention and other alternatives (as Dr. Sinatra did) to reduce inflammation. For those who research these studies many caveats are found that are not reported.
    June Russell – russells@embarqmail.com
    The public is growing increasingly skeptical of health information via the news media. Media hype, politics and money often influence what is reported, and facts can be omitted or altered so as to influence outcomes. Relative Risk vs. Absolute Risk is just one of the many examples of misleading health news.
    When reporting medical studies, “Relative risk reduction (RRR)” refers to the percentage of the decrease achieved by the group receiving intervention vs. the group that did not receive the intervention (the control group). “Absolute risk reduction (ARR)” refers to the actual difference in risk between the treated and the control group. Almost all reports in the popular media, and many in the medical literature, present risk results as ‘relative risk’ reductions rather than ‘absolute risk’ reductions, which often make the data seem more impressive than they actually are.
    Studies in the Lancet (1994) demonstrated that physicians are more likely to prescribe medications when results are presented as RRRs rather than ARRs. If drug “X” reduces mortality from 0.2 to 0.1 percent, this is a 50 percent relative reduction, yet a small decrease.
    The researchers at Johns Hopkins School of medicine reported the rise in mortality among diabetic women in the recent vitamin E study as 6%, but the actual rise in mortality was only about 1/10th of 1 percent. In the vitamin C study researchers reported mortality rates nearly doubled among diabetics who had experienced a stroke and took high-dose vitamin C, but in real numbers, the risk rose about 1.9 deaths -1 extra death every 30 years.
    When understanding the ‘real’ potential benefits and risks of a drug or a procedure (the relative risks interpreted as absolute risks), patients and doctors may better be able to decide whether it is appropriate to forego a treatment – a treatment that may not only be expensive but have unwanted or dangerous side effects. However, there are additional options or considerations – medical advice has suggested that adopting healthier lifestyles could both prevent and eliminate over half of American’s illnesses !
    June Russell – russells@embarqmail.comhttp://www.jrussellshealth.org
    *Thanks to Terry Graedon for a mention of the difference in “Relative Risk” and “Absolute Risk” in today’s program.
    It is only one of the many deceptions of the reports and studies that promote drugs to the public!
    June Russell

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