By Dr. Mercola
If Pfizer has its way, your child's gummy bears may be replaced with chewable Lipitor
The exploitation of children for the sake of profit is yet another loathsome strategy drug manufacturers are willing to deploy, this time for the purpose of extending Lipitor's patent to hold off generic brand competition.
We are already drugging children into complacency with psychotropic stimulants such as Ritalin if they are bored or distracted in the classroom, and devastating their developing immune systems with massive amounts of sugary drinks and a growing barrage of mercury-laden vaccines.
The following trends are quite disturbing:
- According to one study, American children take antipsychotic medications at six times the rate of U.K. children.
- One in four American kids takes a prescription drug for a chronic health condition.
- One in five teens has high cholesterol.
- Heartburn and acid reflux medications among adolescents has jumped 147 percent since 2001.
- Girls aged 10 to 19 taking medications for type 2 diabetes has jumped almost 200 percent in the past nine years.
- Children and adolescents make up the leading growth category for the pharmaceutical industry, with increases nearly four times higher than those seen in the rest of the population.
"No Child Left Unscreened"
Pumping statins into your children, like we are already doing with psychiatric drugs, would be disastrous, as the damaging side effects are now well established.
And if the government gets involved in mandating cholesterol screenings, it then becomes a slippery slope toward YOUR loss of parental choice about YOUR child's medical care. Often the government passes off recommendations as "medical decisions" but they are really "monetary decisions."
You should be the person in charge of your child's health -- not some government agency with a competing agenda!
It is indisputable that childhood obesity is placing the very future of the developing world at stake -- a topic I am so concerned about that I wrote a book called Generation XL. If the childhood obesity epidemic is not reversed, we will, for the first time in history, see children living shorter lives than their parents.
Indeed, something must be done about escalating childhood obesity and "adult" diseases showing up in our children.
But massive statin campaigns are certainly NOT the answer.
The cause of the problem is unhealthy lifestyle choices -- and drugs do nothing to address this. As mentioned in the source article, Harvard researchers found 85 percent of heart disease can be prevented by lifestyle changes alone -- diet, exercise, and supplemental nutrients.
What is Really Making Your Child Fat?
The modern Western diet has become exceedingly reliant on high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined grains, processed foods and artificial sweeteners -- a "perfect storm" for weight gain and poor health.
HFCS is now the number one source of calories in the US, and free-floating fructose is now the leading culprit for the obesity epidemic.
Sugar -- specifically fructose -- is metabolized by your child's body in such a way that nearly all of it is converted to fat.
Fructose is a very different sugar from glucose, which humans were designed to use for energy. Fructose is actually closer to ethanol, in terms of how it's metabolized. Unfortunately, fructose is the number one source of calories in the American diet, and children and adolescents are its number one consumers.
If you wish to promote your children's health and well being, it is essential to limit their fructose consumption.
You may have been deceived into thinking that dietary fat is the reason for your child's weight problem. But low-fat diet foods actually CAUSE weight gain in the majority of people, rather than saturated fats.
There are other factors that influence whether or not your child may develop a weight problem and other related health issues. There are genetic, emotional, social and environmental factors.
For example, researchers at the University of Illinois and the Harvard School of Public Health report that toddlers in day care tend to gain more weight than those who are cared for at home. They found babies spending more than 9 months in day care gained 0.4 pound more than those cared for by their parents. Although the higher weight gain was not easily explained, they speculated it had to do with "irregular eating patterns," as well as possibly the types of foods they were fed.
One hypothesis suggested by scientists was that day care workers might use food to sooth crying babies more than parents do, which could theoretically set up your baby for "emotional eating."
There is evidence that childhood obesity is not only related to adult obesity but to poor health in adulthood as well, so it is very important to pay attention to your child's diet and eating patterns from day one.
Total Cholesterol Number Alone is Virtually Useless
If your doctor is urging your child to get her total cholesterol level checked, you should realize this test tells you virtually nothing about her risk of heart disease -- unless it is 330 or higher.
Without also knowing lipid values, total cholesterol is meaningless. If you are going to participate in a screening, make sure a complete fasting lipid profile is what is being done.
What matters is how much HDL your child has in relation to her LDL and triglycerides.
The purpose of HDL is to take cholesterol from your child's tissues and arteries and transport it back to her liver, where it can be reused. It is her body's way of recycling and reusing cholesterol -- because cholesterol is vital for health, not the villain it has been made out to be.
LDL particles come in a variety of sizes, and it's the small, dense ones (VLDLs) that can potentially be a problem because they can squeeze through the lining of your child's arteries and oxidize, causing inflammation.
Here is a simple way to determine if your child has too much bad LDL (VLDL):
- If her triglycerides are low and her HDL is high, then the LDL she has is the good variety.
- If her triglycerides are high and her HDL is low, then the LDL she has is the bad variety. The triglyceride-to-HDL ratio is a far better indicator of cardiovascular disease than the total cholesterol-to-HDL ratio that nearly everyone uses.
Here are two ratios, easily calculated from a lipid panel, which can help you evaluate your child's heart disease risk:
- HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: Should ideally be more than 24 percent. If it's less than10 percent, your child has a significant risk for developing heart disease.
- Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be less than 2.
Now, here's the bottom line: Dietary fat raises the large, buoyant LDL -- the one that is harmless. Dietary SUGAR raises the small, dense LDL (VLDL) -- the one that correlates with heart disease.
The type of fat that is beneficial comes from organic meats and dairy and natural whole foods, NOT trans fats, which can be deadly and should be avoided altogether.
Cholesterol is NOT the Villain in Childhood Obesity
Cholesterol has been terribly vilified, when in reality it is essential for a wide variety of vital functions in your child's growing body, including:
- Maintaining healthy cell membranes
- Producing a variety of hormones, including estrogen, testosterone and vitamin D
- Producing bile acids, which aid in fat digestion
- Cholesterol also helps your child's brain form memories and is vital to her overall neurological function.
On the flip side, there is strong evidence that having too little cholesterol increases your risk for cancer, memory loss, Parkinson's disease, hormonal imbalances, stroke, depression, suicide, and violent behavior.
Before 2004, a 130 LDL cholesterol level was considered perfect. But now, many physicians are recommending levels of less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at very high risk. In order to achieve these outrageous and dangerously low targets, you typically need to take multiple cholesterol-lowering drugs!
So, the guidelines have progressively widened the pharmaceutical market. If children are subjected to universal cholesterol screening, the drug companies increase their target market that much more.
Statin Side Effects: Keep Out of the Reach of Children!
In 2007, the American Heart Association first recommended the use of statin drugs for children with high cholesterol. Then, in 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics followed suit, recommending cholesterol-lowering drugs for children as young as age 8.
Now they are concocting ways to place more and more children on statins, in spite of the overwhelming evidence for serious side effects -- nearly 900 studies point to the damaging effects of these drugs.
The list of statin-related health problems includes the following:
- Muscle damage (potentially permanent), mostly related to CoQ10 depletion
- Heart damage, heart failure and strokes
- Immune system suppression
- Pancreatic dysfunction
- Hepatic dysfunction
- Increased cancer risk
- Cognitive impairment
In addition to these risks, there are also risks from insufficient CoQ10 levels, which directly relate to the use of statins:
- Impaired white blood cell activity
- Reduced muscle strength contraction -- especially for the heart muscle
- Impaired liver function
- Decreased cell growth and division
- Decreased ability to neutralize free radicals
And now, it would appear, they are pushing a massive kiddie-statin campaign, disguised as "preventative medicine."
Pfizer has been in legal trouble a number of times over fraudulent claims about the "health benefits" of Lipitor. Lipitor is particularly damaging if you are diabetic, doubling your risk for stroke. And with childhood diabetes rates increasing by leaps and bounds, prescribing Lipitor would be extremely risky to these diabetic or pre-diabetic kids.
According to an excellent report in 2008 in the New England Journal of Medicine, long-term data about the safety of statins for children is completely lacking. Ferranti and Ludwig write:
"At 8 years of age, a child's brain and other organ systems remain in dynamic stages of growth and development, raising concern that long-term pharmacotherapy initiated at this age may adversely affect the central nervous system, immune function, hormones, energy metabolism, or other systems in unanticipated ways."
It is one thing to medicate the child who has a rare genetic defect in cholesterol metabolism, but quite another to treat masses of at-risk children whose symptoms reflect easily modifiable lifestyle factors.
As the article says, "Once this door has been opened, the pharmaceutical industry will happily walk through it."
Top 10 Ways to Help Your Child Achieve Optimal Health and Body Weight -- Without Drugs
While prescription of a cholesterol-lowering medication may be warranted in a few rare cases, 99 times out of 100, hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia can be corrected with some simple lifestyle changes.
Here are my top 10 recommendations:
- Eliminate all sodas and fruit juices.
- If your child is already overweight or obese it is particularly important to lower their total fructose intake, INCLUDING fruit, until their weight normalizes. It would also be helpful to severely limit grains, even apparently healthy ones like whole organic grains, until their weight normalizes.
- Help your child get regular exercise.
- Prepare the right foods for your child's nutritional type. I now offer the full nutritional typing program free of charge.
- Encourage your child to eat a good portion of her food raw.
- Make sure your child is getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega3-fats. My favorite is krill oil.
- Introduce your child to a variety of heart-healthy foods such as olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats that fit within her nutritional type guidelines.
- Introduce your child to strategies that help her address emotional challenges, such as EFT.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of restorative sleep.
- Finally, make sure your child's vitamin D levels are within therapeutic levels.
- Vitamin D is not "just a vitamin," but rather the only known substrate for a potent, pleiotropic (meaning it produces multiple effects), repair- and maintenance hormone that serves multiple gene-regulatory functions in your child's body.
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
About 70 percent of U.S. children have inadequate levels of vitamin D, so this should be one of the first issues you address to keep your child's heart healthy.
A Call to Action for the Sake of ALL Children
The Alliance for Natural Health has an on-line "action alert" letter you can send to your Congressional representatives about repealing the law that allows drug companies to extend their patents by testing drugs on children.
It is quick and easy to do! Just click here.
If you care about this issue, I encourage you to take a moment to let your rep's know how you feel.