|JUST SAY NO TO CHOLESTEROL DRUGS FOR 8 YEAR OLDS|
On Monday, July 7 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued guidelines supporting prescribing cholesterol lowering drugs to children as young as 8 years old. And they want to screen 2-10 year olds for cholesterol at routine checkups. The new advice is based on some evidence that damage leading to heart disease begins early in life.
With one-third of U.S. children overweight and about 17% obese there definitely is a huge need to address the cardiovascular health of American children. The focus here is test these children and anyone with bad cholesterol numbers will get a statin drug. But targeting children with cholesterol lowering drugs is the wrong way to go about changing their heart health. All this will do is increase the profits of the drug companies that make these drugs. Some common statin drugs are coming off patent meaning that drug companies stand to lose billions in profits unless they can find more markets for their drugs. With children's health as their rallying cry this is a golden opportunity. For some that may think this is too cynical a view of drug company motives consider the following. The main spokesperson commenting for the AAP in support of these new guidelines has worked as a consultant to Abbott Laboratories and Merck & Co-makers of statin drugs.
Statins are the most common drugs used to lower cholesterol. They lower cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, a key enzyme in cholesterol synthesis. This also results in a deficiency of Coenzyme Q 10, a critical nutrient involved in heart muscle function. Statins can result in muscle weakness and pain, and even debilitating and life-threatening muscle damage. Liver function can be affected necessitating ongoing lab tests to make sure liver damage isn't occurring.
I've got a different idea. Instead of promoting drugs that can hurt the heart, just eliminate some dietary sources behind the childhood obesity. No McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's or other fast food/junk food. Ban TV commercials that target children's age groups. Make exercise more of a priority than pushing drugs down the throats of 8 year olds. Then we might see some permanent improvement in the health of American children.
Remember, according to the Business Week article published earlier this year, the only group that gets positive benefit from taking cholesterol-lowering drugs is men over the age of 50 who've had a previous heart attack. Of course they forgot to include the drug companies that make billions from these drugs. They also benefit.
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