Flicking through a copy of CAM (the magazine for complementary and alternative medicine professionals) today, I was surprised to read that Mayo Clinic found that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, more than half take two, and 20% take five!

And if you’re wondering which drugs are the most popular, well antibiotics is top of the list, followed by antidepressants and painkiller opioids.

“Often when people talk about health conditions they’re talking about chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes,” Dr. St. Sauver stated in a Mayo Clinic press release. “However, the second most common prescription was for antidepressants — that suggests mental health is a huge issue and is something we should focus on.”

Let’s dig a little bit deeper into these stats. The research found that :

  • 13 percent of the overall population are on antidepressants.
  • 17 percent of people were being prescribed antibiotics
  • 13 percent were on painkilling opioids.

Whilst here in the UK, the stats may not be quite as staggering, one drug that has been top of mind recently are statins. Are they good or bad?

The short answer is: if you don’t need to take them, don’t take them. Yes, studies do show that doubling the dose of any statin reduces the LDL (bad) cholesterol by about 6%. However, dropping 10kg in weight has also been shown to reduce the LDL by 15%! In other words, you can achieve a greater benefit by focusing on upgrading your diet and life-style.

And remember, by taking any drug, there’s always a price to pay in the longer-term. For instance, unpleasant side-effects reported include: nosebleeds, headaches, nausea, digestive problems or insomnia (which are just the common symptoms).

What is perhaps most alarming, though, is that a new survey of 3,500 UK adults found that 1 in every 3 people would rather take statins and put up the prospect of getting nosebleeds, headaches, digestive problems etc, rather than take steps to improve their diet and life-style.

So, if you or anyone you know is being advised to take statins, do bear the wise words of GP Dr Sarah Jarvis in mind:

‘The idea that 31% (of people) manage high cholesterol with medication and don’t give a thought to their diet is a real concern to me. I always explain to my patients that statins should be used to complement a healthy diet rather than replace it!’

Similarly, if you need support to make positive changes to your diet or lifestyle, do get in touch. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.