SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Side Effects are killing me!
By Rob Holston


March 25, 2006

Do you suffer from muscle weakness or pain? How about nausea, vomiting or stomach pain? Is your urine brown or dark-colored? Do you have unexplained muscle weakness, fever or fatigue? Does your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow? Do you have a headache, a rash, diarrhea or joint pain? Not to worry, you don't have a disease, you are simply experiencing the side effects of the popular medication, Lipitor.

This popular medication is for lowering your cholesterol. This drug is one of many coming from the "statin" family of drugs, all of which warn consumers of a similar list of side effects, including muscle problems, liver problems and even kidney failure! The long list of possible side effects is not drastically different from many other prescription and OTC drugs on the market today that are designed to relieve patients of a variety of symptoms, risk factors or conditions.

You know, I am not sure about you, but if they don't allow a pregnant woman to take Lipitor, for example because it "may harm your unborn baby." Then I'm for sure going to exhaust all possible other means of solving my cholesterol problem before subjecting my body to daily doses of this "side effect time bomb."

Pfizer will tell you in their advertisement for Lipitor that their claimed results include diet and exercise. They don't tell you what kind of diet or how much and what type of exercise can be most effective in addressing high cholesterol but give the advice to ask your doctor if Lipitor is right for you. Because most American doctors have less than a three hour seminar equivalent in either nutritional or exercise physiology education, there is a dim chance that they are going to recommend anything more than general term advice of "have a low-fat diet and don't forget to exercise". A typical U.S. doctor will feel comfortable in regurgitating the fast facts from the last Pfizer sales rep as they write out the prescription and leave it at that. To Pfizer's credit, I will say their advertisement did reference the American Heart Association at for those ready to start eating right and exercising more. If Americans actually did those things, would they need Lipitor in the first place? Probably not.

This sad state of affairs leaves the medical practitioners grasping at statin straws to cure high cholesterol and the result is an ever increasing avalanche of lifestyle caused medical conditions and risk factors directly related to poor diets and sedentary living. These medical conditions and risk factors include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, diverticulitis, cancer, etc.

All physicians take an oath of service that paraphrased says "First Do No Harm." The obvious interpretation of this oath for me seems to be, "If a dietary and exercise plan can reduce risk factors as well as disease states and avoid 'risks of side effects' then that plan should be what is prescribed." The honest truth is the "pill" solution to any problem is the easy solution for both the patient and the doctor but it is only masking the overall health problem of poor diet and sedentary lifestyle.

For those out there who may have high cholesterol, blood sugar problems, high blood pressure, obesity, and pains here and there etc., before jumping on the taking pills bandwagon you might consider the Healthy Side Effect alternative. That's right, no harmful side effects result from a great diet and proper exercise (don't fall off that bicycle!). If your risk factors are not an emergency (90% blockage IS an emergency!) and you want to try the healthful side effects of proper diet, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes, then try to attain these 13 healthful goals:

Get your BMI (Body Mass Index) into your ideal range
Get your body fat % into your ideal range
Do aerobic exercise 3X's per week (consult your doctor)
Do some form of resistance training 3X's per week (seek instruction)
Eat lots of God created foods, i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses
Avoid lots of man-made-foods, i.e. soda, preservatives, processed foods
Eat more raw foods and avoid trans-fats
Drink water: Divide your weight by 2 and drink that number of ounces of H2O
Increase daily fiber intake by 5 grams every week until you have achieved 40 gm per day
Avoid all pork & minimize all fatty meats. Eat wild game or free-range meats & salmon
Avoid artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors
Spice up your life with spices and herbs and relax with a pet
Engage in spiritually fulfilling relationships at work, home and church

Some of you reading this far are saying "Well, yah, daaa! Who wouldn't be healthy if they did all that?"

Precisely my point!


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Rob is a retired teacher and a resident of Ketchikan, Alaska. He is not a health care professional but has an interest in health and fitness.
Contact Rob at holston[at]

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