Three UK doctors are currently urging the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to promote a healthier lifestyle including adopting a Mediterranean diet to control cholesterol levels and reduce dependency on statins.
The doctors, including Aseem Malhotra who's known to question the real benefits of statins as a cholesterol-lowering drug, have recently published an editorial in Prescriber on the benefits of a better lifestyle. They argued by eating a much better diet, exercising, and being more active can work similarly to taking statins.
Further, they urged their fellow doctors to be more open about the risks and benefits of taking the drugs, as well as the alternative lifestyle, to allow the patients make a choice based on what they prefer.
An abnormally high level of cholesterol increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which now affects more than 6 million men and women in the UK alone. It is also the leading cause of death around the world.
However, it's also manageable and even preventable by simply adopting a healthier lifestyle. In the paper, the doctors mentioned that a moderate Mediterranean diet is advisable, although processed food can still be eaten but only very rarely. People should also stop or avoid smoking.
Although adopting a healthier lifestyle is more time-consuming and requires more commitment than just taking the medication, it provides a healthier and longer life with almost no serious risk.
On the other hand, statins have side effects such as muscle aches and diabetes. Further, even if the drug can prevent heart attack or stroke, only a small percentage live longer, and usually, it's because they haven't experienced a serious life event such as a stroke.
The editorial has received support from other leading doctors in the country.
The Mediterranean diet is a highly recommended diet that promotes the consumption of legumes, healthy fat, unrefined carbohydrates, fish, fruits, and vegetables. It also encourages moderate intake of wine and dairy products such as plain yogurt and cheese.