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NIH cholesterol recommendations questioned.

Recent recommendations by the National Institute of Health's National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) on ways to reduce cholesterol levels are being questioned by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and a number of physicians, epidemiologists and other scientists. The NIH report, issued in July, urged more Americans to consider taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of heart disease. Specifically, NCEP recommended a new, lower thresholds for considering cholesterol-lowering drugs that would apply to people with LDL (or "bad") cholesterol levels between 100 and 129. People who already have heart disease but have relatively low LDL levels between 70 and 100 should similarly consider taking statins, according to the NCEP. Lower thresholds also were proposed for millions of women and elderly people at moderately high risk of heart disease, as well as for diabetics.

In a letter to NIH, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and NCEP, the physicians and scientists urge an independent review of the scientific studies behind the new recommendations. "There is strong evidence to suggest that an objective, independent re-evaluation of the scientific evidence from the five new studies of statin therapy would lead to different conclusions than those presented by the current NCEP," the scientists wrote.

According to CSPI, media coverage of the report largely ignored the benefits of lifestyle and diet changes on health or placed them near the ends of their stories. The critics also claim that eight of the nine authors of the NCEP recommendations have financial ties to statin manufacturers, thus creating apparent conflicts of interest.
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Title Annotation:National Institutes of Health; National Cholesterol Education Program
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 4, 2004
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