Here’s an idea to keep in mind for the approaching flu season…
Researchers believe you can protect yourself from dying of the flu with an anti-inflammatory. Omega-3 fatty acids are excellent anti-inflammatories. There you go. Simple.
But you know how it is. Someone always comes along to complicate simple. Or, in the case of a recent study, researchers and the media have turned simple into potential disaster.
Beware of this completely misguided flu “treatment.” It’s just another scheme to get you to take statin drugs.
That’s right. Cholesterol-lowering statins. For the FLU!
I’m with Kwong
It’s hard to say which is the larger farce — this hapless study, or CBS’s absurd take on the study.
We’ll start with CBS News. Their report includes this note… “Thirty-three percent of the patients were given statins, while the rest were given other antiviral medications.”
That makes it sound like a clinical intervention study. But no — not even close.
Of the 3,000 subjects followed in the study, 33 percent were already taking statins when admitted to the hospital, or they took statins after admission. They weren’t “given” statins by the researchers.
As for antiviral medications, some of the statin users received antivirals. But some didn’t. Some of the non-statin users received antivirals. But some didn’t. And antiviral use was unknown for hundreds of subjects.
Confused? I think maybe we’re supposed to be.
Regardless, the comment from CBS is very misleading. And the fact that antiviral use was all over the highway is a good indication that this study is also all over the highway.
For instance, many patients in both groups had health problems that could have caused their deaths. Hundreds had heart disease. Hundreds had metabolic disease. Hundreds had kidney disease. More than 700 had chronic lung disease. And almost 500 had asthma!
And yet, the death rate during the study period was just 5%. So to chalk up a survival edge to statin use is ridiculous.
But here’s my favorite part…
The researchers say their study “confirms” a previous study. That one suggested a link between statin use and a decrease in pneumonia hospitalizations and deaths. But then they add…”although the effects were minimal.”
And even CBS admits that some experts were “just plain dubious.” One of them, Dr. Jeffrey C. Kwong, said, “I’m not convinced that statins are protective.”
What CBS doesn’t mention is that Kwong is not just any expert. He was the researcher that led the statin/pneumonia study. That’s right — the one with “minimal” effects. The one that this new study supposedly “confirms.”
So if your doctor tries to get you on statins to protect against the flu, just tell him if the lead researcher isn’t convinced, you’re not either.
No matter what CBS “reports.”
“Association Between Use of Statins and Mortality Among Patients Hospitalized With Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza Virus Infections: A Multistate Study” Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vol. 205, No. 1, jid.oxfordjournals.org
“Statins reduce flu death risk by half, study shows” Ryan Jaslow, CBS News, 12/14/11, cbsnews.com