Dear Dr. Blonz: There is a constant argument at our house about the role of statins in helping determine what you should eat. If a person who formerly had elevated cholesterol takes a statin drug and it succeeds in bringing their level into the normal range, is there any reason, aside from weight gain, why they should not eat high-fat, high-cholesterol foods? I am frustrated by this person bragging that they are now insulated from the dangers of their diet. — M.T., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Dear M.T.: Medications to control an elevated blood cholesterol level should not be thought of as a license to eat and live in an unhealthful manner. Taking a statin, or any cholesterol-lowering drug, provides an artificial means to correct a symptom of imbalance in the body. Whether due to a genetic predisposition, poor diet or lifestyle factors, the cholesterol becomes elevated for a reason. It makes little sense to then dismiss the problem with thoughts that a pharmaceutically lowered cholesterol level fixes everything. It may provide a means to correct the symptom, but it does not relieve us of the responsibility to treat our bodies with care.
If you need the medication, by all means use it. Wouldn’t it also be a worthy goal to make the appropriate dietary and lifestyle adjustments so that the need for the drug was reduced or eliminated? Evidence shows that such changes go well beyond better numbers on a lab test; that would indeed be something to brag about.