British National Press Does it Again with Extremely Misleading Article

This weekend, at least 3 national newspapers here in the UK (the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, and the Mirror) printed an article suggesting that cholesterol-lowering statin medications had led to a 40% reduction in strokes in Britain.

Based on what was written in these newspapers, it was initially a little time consuming to find the actual published research they are referring to – this is because their description of the stroke reduction being attributed to statins didn't match any of the published studies in the medical literature. As far as I can establish, they are referring to this study:

Yanzhong Wang, Anthony G. Rudd and Charles D.A. Wolfe. Trends and Survival Between Ethnic Groups After Stroke: The South London Stroke Register. Stroke 2013;44:380-387

Although the 3 newspapers state that statins have been the main factor, there is no evidence of this whatsoever in the above study. There is only one reference to statins in the study itself, which reads:

“There are limitations in our study. We do not have cholesterol/pathology data in our stroke register but we do have use of statins. “

That's it. There is no further mention of statins or any mention of the impact statins might or might not have had.

So, the national press has just plucked this headline out of thin air. Or maybe this article came about as a result of a press release from the drugs companies or an organisation which supports the drugs companies? Who knows? Wherever it came from, it has deeply misled the general public.

This is not the first time this has happened, I wrote about a similar case at the end of last year.

Its no wonder that many people are confused about this issue.