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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, August 18, 2008

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs For Eight-Year-Old Kids?

by Andrew W. Saul

American Academy of Pediatrics Urging "McMedicine"

(OMNS, August 18, 2008) Two-thirds of North America is overweight or obese. Our kids are getting fatter, too. And these children's cholesterol is going up so fast that the American Academy of Pediatrics wants kids as young as eight years of age to take cholesterol-lowering drugs. (1) But before you let any pediatrician put your child on drugs, check what may be a reason behind the recommendation: money.

American Academy of Pediatrics projects receive cash from drug companies, including PediaMed, McNeil, Sanofi-aventis, AstraZeneca, Dermik, Abbott, and Merck. AAP also receives money from PepsiCo and McDonalds.

No wonder they support putting your kids on drugs. Statins for second-graders? Sure! Do you want fries with that?

The money flows freely, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics, with 60,000 pediatrician members, is a business. To see just what kind of business they do, look at their upcoming October, 2008 conference in Boston: "The AAP 2008 Exhibition Hall is SOLD OUT." (Their emphasis.) The booths might be full, but there still might be time for your drug company to "hold an industry symposium" at the big pediatricians' conference. That will cost you $15,000 (only $10,000 if you are a paid exhibitor).

Your drug company can also be a major sponsor of the AAP convention. Sponsor the Welcome Reception and it will cost you $150,000. Your drug company can sponsor the convention's shuttle buses for a mere $50,000. But the real deal is this: for $150,000, your drug company can sponsor the AAP magazine, "Healthy Children," "distributed to physicians' rooms at AAP conference hotels" and "for placement in waiting rooms for availability to parents" You even get two full page ads, including the back cover. What a deal!

Drugs are not the answer. . . unless you are a drug company. The cholesterol-lowering drug "Lipitor" is the best selling drug on the planet. Yet it is well established that cardiovascular disease is not caused by a failure to take enough pharmaceuticals as a child. It is a lifestyle disease. If a person will not change their lifestyle, their doctor should prescribe niacin (vitamin B-3), the most effective way to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and raise beneficial HDL. It is also the cheapest way. But most importantly, it is by far the safest way. The president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Steven E. Nissen, said, "Niacin is really it. Nothing else available is that effective." (2)

Additional protection against cardiovascular disease comes from supplementing the diet with vitamin E, vitamin C, and the amino acid L-lysine. If you need pills, take vitamins, not drugs. There is not one death per year from vitamin supplements. There are over 106,000 deaths per year from prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. (3)

Cholesterol-lowering drugs can produce serious side effects in adults. This risk is even greater for the still-developing bodies of children. Side effects of cholesterol lowering drugs include fever, liver damage, muscle pain, rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown), memory loss, personality changes, irritability, headaches, anxiety, depression, chest pain, acid regurgitation, dry mouth, vomiting, leg pain, insomnia, eye irritation, tremors, dizziness, and even more. If you check the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR), you'll see the whole disturbing list.

It is high time for a reality check. Obesity comes from lack of exercise. Obesity comes from high-fat, high-sugar diets. "Childhood obesity is almost completely preventable," says cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish. "We don't have to wait for a new drug or technology; we just have to put into practice what we already know. What's changed is our diet and lifestyle. If we caused it, we can reverse it." (4) A typical teenage boy drinks 20 oz of soda a day. "Even chocolate milk gets a thumbs-up from dentists, who would rather see a child drink flavored milk than none at all," commented the NY Times. (5) "Most experts agree that Americans' increasingly sedentary lifestyle and fondness for fast food contributed to the nation's growing girth," says PBS-Frontline. But then, "Nobody ever got rich marketing self-control." (6)

But many have gotten rich marketing drugs, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics is there to help them get even richer. For shame. Kids need to eat right and exercise. If they need help lowering cholesterol, give them a safe vitamin, not a dangerous prescription drug. And send them out to run around and play.


(1) Tanner L. Cholesterol drugs recommended for some 8-year-olds. Associated Press.

(2) Mason M. NY Times, January 23, 2007. An old cholesterol remedy is new again.

(3) Lucian Leape, Error in medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1994, 272:23, p 1851. Also: Leape LL. Institute of Medicine medical error figures are not exaggerated. JAMA. 2000 Jul 5;284(1):95-7.

(4) Ornish D. Newsweek. May 27, 2008.

(5) Brody J. NY Times, September 7, 2004. Dental Advice: Start Early. Very Early.

(6) "Diet Wars," a PBS' Frontline presentation. Watch it online, for free, at

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Editorial Review Board:

Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
Damien Downing, M.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
James A. Jackson, PhD
Bo H. Jonsson, MD, Ph.D
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Gert E. Shuitemaker, Ph.D.

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