Cholesterol lowering drugs:

Amy Corderoy, a Sydney Morning Herald journalist, writes: Re. “Sensational headline on cholesterol lowering drugs is too risky” (March 2, item 11). My article this week suggested new warnings on the link between statins and diabetes and cognitive impairment could lead to people at low-risk of heart disease going off drugs, and this has upset some people in the medical community.

That’s fair enough — statins are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country and are of huge public health significance.

This piece from Stephen MacMahon, whose work I respect, sums up well many of the criticisms that have been made. But it ignores the crucial point of the article, which was repeated several times: these warnings are only of relevance to people who are on statins who are at low-risk of heart disease.

At no point did the article suggest people at moderate to high risk of cardiovascular disease should go off these drugs.

It also included commentary from the director of Baker IDI, Garry Jennings, specifically disputing the point that anyone at all would need to go off their medication, despite the fact that this seems unlikely.

With 2 million Australians currently taking statins, only 0.1% of them would need to be people at low-risk of cardiovascular disease who could potentially be taken off their medication for “thousands” of people to be affected.

In fact, this is likely to be a conservative estimate. While little research has been done into the rate of prescribing of statins to people at low-risk of heart disease in Australia, as several people were quoted saying, our high rates of prescribing compared to the rest of the world indicate this is a problem. — Read the rest of Amy’s response at Croakey

A food fight:

Peter Steele writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). I know “well-connected Melbourne foodies” are genetically predisposed to sneering, but I think your tipster needs to take a breath and check their logic (and facts).

I’ve never met Joost but having read up on his work and heard him interviewed a couple of times, I have no doubt that his projects are genuine in their intent and value in progressing both thinking and technology related to environmental sustainability. The Greenhouse projects are by definition prototypes — things have to be tried to be proven, and proven to be adopted more broadly. They are trying to demonstrate innovative technologies, while engaging with people who may not normally think about sustainability and demonstrating that it doesn’t have to be about sacrifice and mung beans (although these may be on the menu, I haven’t looked).

Nitpicking about the temporary nature of the restaurant (see above for the purpose of a prototype, and note he’s apparently looking to establish a permanent version somewhere in the CBD), materials (the entire structure focuses on waste minimisation and deconstructability, so the materials can be used again without needing significant reprocessing. He’s also working with CSIRO to develop new building materials from industrial waste, with a focus on low-embodied energy) and canola oil from NSW (does foodie prefer brown coal from the La Trobe Valley?) doesn’t seem particularly productive.

Any project trying to do something different will have its problems, limitations and may be forced into some level of compromise. I don’t know specifically, but I’m guessing the Greenhouse is the same. That doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile, and I reckon we’d be a lot better off if we had more people trying new things like Joost and less “well-connected foodies” trying to cut them down.

Guy Rundle:

Eric McKibbin writes: Re. “Rundle12: Cleveland on Xanax with a dose of Limbaugh absurdity” (yesterday, item 3). Guy Rundle’s scene setting felt weird as hell in his latest GOP article and more like something you’d read in a pulp novel from the ’40s: “Next to me in the lounge, a shapely blonde, elegant as hell until she opens her mouth.”

I get that it’s part of the Guy’s style but in an article primarily focused on s-xist remarks and their impact on the campaign this seemed like a pretty weird start!.

A minor thing to bring up but the juxtaposition gave me more motivation to point it out, and you’ve shown to care in the past (posting that rebuttal to his terrible Slutwalk article).

Like I said I’m going to hands-on-keyboard effort to mention a minor thing but if Crikey wasn’t the only news worth reading I’d care about the quality a lot less. Keep up the otherwise exemplary work.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey