By Dr. Mercola
A new study has led to what is perhaps the most ludicrous recommendation for flu treatment ever -- statin drugs!
The researchers reported that statin use may reduce death risk in people hospitalized with the flu, and the media is reporting sensational headlines like "Statins reduce flu death risk by half."
This is particularly outrageous, because the study was seriously flawed and designed to make statin drugs useful for another condition while they do nothing to address the underlying cause.
To validly determine if statin drugs are effective for flu they need to compare it to placebo, not a poison.
So what did they do?
They compared statin drugs to other toxic drugs, this time antiviral medications. So what the study actually found was that, more than likely, antiviral drugs were killing people twice as quickly as the statins!
What did the Study Really Show?
In the observational study published in The Journal of Infectious Disease, researchers examined data from 3,000 patients hospitalized with the flu, 33 percent of whom were given statins while the rest received antiviral drugs. The results showed that people who did not receive statins were twice as likely to die.
Another way of saying this, of course, is that people who received antiviral drugs were twice as likely to die as those given statins. And what this really means is that the antiviral medications were exceptionally harmful, not that statins were beneficial.
Still, it is not surprising that the drug's manufacturer and the media are reporting favorable results for statin drugs, even though the researchers themselves pointed out the many limitations to their study, noting, for example:
" … it was difficult to ascertain the underlying functional health status of these patients, which may potentially confound the relationship between statins and severity of influenza."
Further, one of the study's authors has been a consultant to numerous drug companies, including Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis, Pfizer, Dynavax, and GlaxoSmithKline, whereas the study itself was funded by the Emerging Infections Program Cooperative Agreement of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also has worrisome ties to the drug industry.
Statins are Not Wonder Drugs
The drug companies started pushing their statin drugs, which are ordinarily prescribed to lower cholesterol levels, for the flu back in 2009 during the swine flu scare, and they are working hard to get the accepted as "wonder drugs" for the treatment of everything from pneumonia to Alzheimer's disease.
However, as Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior scientist at MIT, explains, statins are dangerous because they suppress the synthesis of a true biological wonder drug, namely cholesterol. And she believes it is actually cholesterol (in high amounts prior to patients' starting statin therapy) that is responsible for many of the statins' alleged benefits:
"Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of a biological wonder drug, namely cholesterol. Repeatedly, retrospective studies have shown an alleged benefit for statins, which is actually a benefit derived from the many years of high cholesterol that preceded statin treatment. This game has been played out for sepsis, pneumonia, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer's, and these are just the ones I'm aware of. When the proper placebo-controlled study is done, the effect reverses -- statins make the situation worse. But these negative results are kept well concealed from the public's eyes. This is how the myth has been kept alive that statins, instead of cholesterol, are the wonder drug."
There are, in fact, 304 adverse health effects that may be associated with statin drugs, and this may only be the tip of the iceberg.
The Truth About Antiviral Flu Drugs
Anti-viral flu drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza are conventional medicine's go-to option for treating the flu, but you should know that they carry serious side effects -- and may only shorten the time you are sick by one to two days. These drugs are part of a group of anti-influenza drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, which work by blocking a viral enzyme that helps the influenza virus to invade cells in your respiratory tract.
The problem is that your nervous system also contains neuraminidase enzymes essential for proper brain functioning, and when blocked with these dangerous drugs, severe neurotoxicity may ensue (especially in the infants and children whose blood-brain barrier has not yet developed sufficiently).
Serious side effects include convulsions, delirium or delusions, suicidal behavior and 14 deaths in children and teens have been reported as a result of neuropsychiatric problems and brain infections. Japan actually banned Tamiflu for children in 2007 because of the steep risks.
It was also around this time that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began reviewing reports of abnormal behavior and other brain effects in more than 1,800 children who had taken Tamiflu. Further, the drug commonly causes a myriad of side effects that, ironically, resemble the flu symptoms the drug claims to treat. You can decide for yourself whether these risks are worth a measly one- or two-day reduction in your flu symptoms:
Statin Study Highlights Flu Shot Ineffectiveness
Whenever I address the topic of influenza, I like to mention flu shots, simply because the propaganda supporting them is so widespread -- and the truth deserves to be heard. Not only is there a shocking lack of evidence supporting the use of the flu vaccine, but a number of studies have actually confirmed the danger and ineffectiveness of the shots.
One major study determined that the best the flu vaccine could do during a season where, in the rare case, the vaccine actually matched the wild-type strains in circulation, was to reduce the risk of influenza infection by a paltry 1 percent relative to unvaccinated controls. This means that despite receiving the shot – riddled, as it is, with side effects such as the debilitating and potentially deadly nerve disease Guillain-Barre Syndrome -- there is still an overwhelming likelihood that you will not be protected from the flu as a result of receiving the vaccine.
The reason for this has to do with how flu strains work. Along with the faulty science behind the creation of the vaccine, the act of determining which flu strains will affect your area is pretty much a guessing game. Mainstream medical officials urge you to receive the shot, but health officials are fully aware that it is truly impossible to know for sure which strain to vaccinate against.
With such a wide selection of strains (hundreds, if not thousands), it is very rare for officials to actually pick the correct strains – the best case scenario is that an appropriate match will occur 10 percent of the time, according to the study. Interestingly, as it was not the researchers' intent, the statin-flu study also highlighted the striking lack of effectiveness of the flu vaccine in preventing flu deaths:
"Our finding that vaccine was not effective in preventing mortality from influenza is likely explained by the timing of our study. We evaluated the impact of statins on influenza mortality in 2007–2008, a year in which the vaccine was not well matched to the circulating viruses … In addition, vaccination status may not impact mortality in the event of vaccine failure regardless of match to circulating strains; 50% of our patients were over the age of 70, an age group in which influenza vaccine is known to be less effective."
Why Doesn't the CDC Fund a Study on Vitamin D for Flu Treatment?
Apparently the CDC would rather throw money at a potential cash cow for the drug makers than promote the real natural alternatives that can stop the flu in its tracks without any side effects. Where is the CDC-sponsored study on vitamin D and the flu, for instance? According to the findings from a 2010 study that didn't get any widespread attention, vitamin D is a highly effective way to avoid influenza. In fact, children taking low doses of vitamin D3 were shown to be 42 percent less likely to come down with the flu.
Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, was one of the first to introduce the idea that vitamin D deficiency may actually be an underlying cause of influenza, which would help explain its apparent benefits as a flu-fighter. His hypothesis was published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006, which was followed up with another study published in the Virology Journal in 2008.
Dr. Cannell's hypothesis received further support and confirmation when, in the following year, the largest and most nationally representative study of its kind to date discovered that people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu. You can find my full recommendations for how to optimize your vitamin D levels in this past article.
There are Effective Natural Options for Beating the Flu
I have not caught the flu in over two decades, and you can avoid it too, without using drugs or getting vaccinated. Following these guidelines will help to keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you're far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with -- and if you do, these strategies will help you to get better, faster.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I've previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency is likely the TRUE culprit behind the seasonality of the flu -- not the flu virus itself. This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take.
If you are coming down with flu-like symptoms and have not optimized your levels, you can take doses of 50,000 units a day a vitamin D3 for three days to treat the acute infection.
- Avoid sugar and processed foods. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.
In fact, the first thing you want to do when you feel yourself coming down with a cold or flu is to avoid ALL sugars, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods.
- Get enough rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.
- Implement effective tools to address your stress. We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness.
If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an effective energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.
- Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. You can review my exercise guidelines for some great tips on how to get started.
- Take a good source of animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils like trans fats found in most processed foods, as it will seriously damage your immune response.
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap for this -- antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
- Eat garlic regularly. Garlic works like a broad-spectrum antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in your body. And unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use. However, if you are allergic or don't enjoy garlic it would be best to avoid as it will likely cause more harm than good.
- Avoid hospitals whenever possible. I'd recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you have an emergency, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds, and could be one of the likeliest places you could be exposed to flu bugs.
For even more details on specific immune-boosting foods and supplements that can help boost your immune function to help you kick your cold or flu faster, without drugs, please see my article The First Thing to do When a Cold or Flu Strikes.