It's time we cut it out. (Picture of Avorvastatin from NYU's Clinical Correlations, the latest entry in our blogroll. Go Violets!) Or it might be time to hand out some malpractice suits to journalists.
One substance, one source, what are you supposed to do?
It's likely that the link between cholesterol and heart disease is not as straightforward as we thought. It may be statins like Lipitor reduce heart attacks by reducing inflammation, or impact lipoproteins.
Notice the key word in the above paragraphs -- may. As in maybe. As in maybe not.
We in the media don't like to look at shades of gray. We want clear conclusions, clear angles, clear advice. We like binary absolutes.
Trouble is science doesn't work that way.
Critics like to charge that science changes its mind. Not really. Our theories change and in science everything is a theory. Gravity is a theory. The theories with the greatest acceptance are those which work in the real world. Gravity seems to work.
When it comes to statins and cholesterol the link may not be exactly clear. Behind the cholesterol are other substances which may, in fact, be the controlling risk factors for heart disease.
But until there are enough studies with enough contrary recommendations so that a consensus forms around an alternate theory of heart disease, I'm going to exercise, try to eat my vegetables and take my medicine.
Individual science studies, it turns out, are like trades on the stock market. As with the stock market, the proper response not to panic.[poll id=11]