New FDA Warnings On Statins

Statins are not the only way to lower cholesterol

Possible Side Effects: Memory Loss, High Blood Sugar, Diabetes

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that statin drugs, used by millions of Americans to lower cholesterol, must carry warnings on their labels about the following potential side effects:

  • Memory loss and mental confusion
  • Risk of high blood sugar
  • Risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes

“The value of statins in preventing heart disease has been clearly established,” said Amy G. Egan, M.D., M.PH., deputy director for safety in FDA’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products. “Their benefit is indisputable, but they need to be taken with care and knowledge of their side effects.”

“The effects of the Pritikin Program are all positive. With lifestyle changes, you don’t have to worry about negative side effects,” notes Dr. Scheib.Cardiologist Ronald Scheib, MD, Medical Director of the Pritikin Longevity Center, agrees. “Statins have important benefits like lowering cholesterol and perhaps reducing the inflammation in blood vessel walls that are associated with the development of cholesterol-related plaque. But statins are drugs, and drugs, by their very nature, have both risks and benefits. It is wrong to assume that any drug is 100 percent ‘safe.’”

“Individualization of statin therapy is necessary,” continues Dr. Scheib. “For each patient, the decision-making process regarding the risk/benefit ratio must take into consideration several factors, including the occurrence of a previous coronary event and multiple risk factors. For many, the benefits of statins outweigh the potential negative side effects.”

Lifestyle Change – No Risks

One form of cholesterol-lowering therapy that is side-effect-free is lifestyle change, such as the food, fitness, and lifestyle program taught by the physicians, registered dietitians, and other faculty at the Pritikin Longevity Center. “The effects of the Pritikin Program are all positive. With lifestyle changes, you don’t have to worry about negative side effects,” notes Dr. Scheib.

Key lifestyle actions of the Pritikin Program for lowering total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels:
  • Eat far fewer saturated fats (such as butter, palm oil, coconut oil, meat fats, and milk fats); trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils); and dietary cholesterol.
  • Eat far more fiber-rich foods, especially soluble fiber from food such as beans, yams, oats, barley, and berries.
  • Eat vegetable proteins (such as tofu and beans) in place of animal protein like meat and poultry.
  • Eat fewer refined sugars and refined grains (such as white flour).
  • Exercise regularly: 1) Aerobic exercise daily, a minimum of 30 minutes, alternating moderate-intensity days with vigorous-intensity days; 2) Full-body resistance routine two to three times weekly; and 3) Stretching exercises two to three times weekly.
  • Lose excess weight, especially belly fat.

The results of the Pritikin Program in improving cholesterol levels and overall heart-health have been documented in more than 100 studies in peer-reviewed publications. One major study found that among more than 4,500 men and women attending the Pritikin Center for three weeks, total cholesterol levels fell on average 23 percent. LDL bad cholesterol also fell 23 percent. (Sources: The New England Journal of Medicine and the Annals of Internal Medicine.)

The evidence of the value of the Pritikin Program in reducing heart disease risk factors like cholesterol and preventing heart disease is so strong that recently the Pritikin Program was approved by Medicare for Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation.

For more information from the FDA regarding its new warnings about statins, go to:


More Whole Grains, Less Belly Fat


Want a flatter, leaner tummy? Remove from your diet white, processed grains like white bread and white rice, and eat more whole grains such as oatmeal, barley, bulgar, 100% whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice, research has found.

More Whole Grains, Less Belly FatStudying 50 obese men and women, scientists at Pennsylvania State University put all 50 subjects on a calorie-reducing diet for 12 weeks, but divided them into two groups. Half were instructed to eat whole grains; the other half were told to choose refined, processed grains, like white-flour foods.

After 12 weeks, average weight loss for both groups was about the same: 8 to 11 pounds. But the whole-grain group showed significantly greater reductions in the percentage of fat around the middle, the researchers reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

That’s great news not only for a svelte tummy but also for health. Numerous studies published over the past two decades have found that belly fat is particularly harmful to our hearts and health. Abdominal fat is one of the characteristics of a now-epidemic condition in the U.S. called the metabolic syndrome, which is a collection of several risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Belly fat is also linked with chronic low-level inflammation in the blood vessels, which in turn is a harbinger of heart attacks and strokes. Another risk factor that tumbled among the whole-grain eaters (and not the refined grain eaters) in the Pennylvania State University study was a key marker of chronic inflammation – C-reactive protein, or CRP.

Similarly, research on people who adopted the Pritikin Program found that CRP levels plummeted. Within two to three weeks, C-reactive protein decreased 45% among women, 39% among men, and 41% among children.Metabolism, 53: 377, 2004; Journal of Applied Physiology, 100: 1657, 2006; Atherosclerosis, 191: 98, 2007.

At the Pritikin Center, guests learn their fat-to-muscle ratio via DEXA Body Composition Scanning. After two to three weeks, follow-up scanning reveals how powerful Pritikin living is in shedding fat and increasing muscle.Studies have also found that among both adults and children, the Pritikin Program reversed the clinical diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.

“But please don’t feel complacent if you don’t have a pot belly,” urges Dr. Danine Fruge, Associate Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

“There’s a tragic – and growing – problem in our country, and we doctors call this problem TOFI, which means thin on the outside and fat on the inside.”

You are a TOFI if your weight is normal, but your body mass shows a high ratio of fat to muscle. You may not see the fat, but it’s there, under the skin, and deposited around and inside the internal organs, including the heart, muscle, and liver. It’s largely the result of our sedentary lifestyles — our lack of muscle use — and our fatty, sugary, white-flour-focused calorie-dense diets.

At the Pritikin Longevity Center, guests learn their fat-to-muscle ratio via DEXA Body Composition Scanning. After two to three weeks, follow-up scanning reveals how powerful Pritikin living is in shedding fat and increasing muscle. The end result is a leaner, fitter, better toned body.

What does it mean to be a TOFI? “It means,” warns Dr. Fruge, “that despite normal weight, you are still at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases related to obesity.”

Bottom line: Excess body fat, whether it’s around your belly or deep within, is dangerous.

“So get up and get moving!” encourages Dr. Fruge. “And enjoy the many benefits of the Pritikin Eating Plan, rich in healthful whole foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans.

“I know of nothing else in medicine that comes close to what a healthy lifestyle like Pritikin can do.”