Statins, one of the most popular class of drugs prescribed today has been around over 25 years supposedly helping to lower high cholesterol levels. Statins work by inhibiting the production of cholesterol via an enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase). “Their (statins) benefit is remarkably greater than their risk, and there is simply no doubt that these medications are safer than drugs such as aspirin”.
I happen to disagree. According to the Mayo clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/statin-side-effects/art-20046013, noted side effects include:
- muscle pain, soreness, tiredness or weakness in your muscles;
- nausea, gas, diarrhea or constipation;
- abnormal liver tests;
- memory loss or confusion;
- elevated blood sugar and even type 2 diabetes.
And these side effects are more common in the very groups that statins are supposed to help most (people with diabetes and those who are taking multiple drugs to help lower cholesterol), those who are over the age of 65, those who drink more than 1-2 drinks a day, women and individuals with a small body frame.
For others who have had a heart attack and are trying to prevent another or those who have cholesterol levels above 350 mg/dl and are diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia, the benefits of taking a statin may outweigh the risk.
We have spent nearly 19 billion dollars on statins over the years and they are linked to poor health consequences including diabetes, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/medical/health/medical/diabetes/story/2012-01-09/Study-links-statins-to-higher-diabetes-in-older-women/52470838/1.
“Statins Stimulate Atherosclerosis and Heart Failure: Pharmacological Mechanisms” explains how statins may interfere with more natural body functions than just liver enzymes. The article published in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology (March 2015) supports the belief that statins cause heart disease via a few different mechanisms:
- Inhibits vitamin K2 (protects arteries from clogs via calcium deposits) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24936265, http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/dr-dennis-goodmans-vitamin-k2-book-links-missing-nutrient-to-heart-and-bone-health-1997508.htm
- hinders selenium production (http://www.internationaljournalofcardiology.com/article/S0167-5273(08)01296-5/abstract?cc=y)
- Depletes coenzymeQ10 (http://www.healthline.com/health/coq10-and-statins#Effects6); the information here mentions ” CoQ10 can lower blood sugar, so diabetics need to be careful or avoid it.” If this is the case, do not avoid CoQ10. Speak with your doctor about lowering diabetes medication dosage.
- causes toxicity to the body cells (mitochondria) that produce energy
Back in 2012, Nakazato R., et. al. published study results in Atherosclerosis (Nov;225:148-53) entitled, “Statins use and coronary artery plaque composition: results from the International Multicenter CONFIRM Registry”. They concluded ” Statin use is associated with an increased prevalence and extent of coronary plaques possessing calcium.”
Despite this information, physician prescriptions continue to be written without consideration but there are practicing physicians who have spoken out against the massive rush to prescribe statins:
Dr.Eric Topol, interviewed by Forbes is a cardiologist and professor of genomics at Scripps Research Institute; http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2012/03/04/top-cardiologist-argues-we-should-dial-back-on-statins-because-of-diabetes-risk/
And, Barbara H. Roberts, M.D., director of the Women’s Cardiac Center at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I. and associate clinical professor of medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She was involved in the first clinical trial that demonstrated a beneficial effect of lowering cholesterol on the incidence of heart disease. She is the author of two books warning against statin use, “The Truth About Statins: Risks and Alternatives to Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs” and “How to Keep From Breaking Your Heart: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Cardiovascular Disease”, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martha-rosenberg/statins_b_1818370.html.
Eating healthy and exercise can help obtain normal cholesterol. Stop eating packaged food. Go back to nutrition basics. Eat protein, non-starchy vegetables and low glycemic fruits. Add fat foods and supplements found to help lower cholesterol and LDL such as nuts and seeds, olive oil, fatty fish, avocado, and supplement: plant sterols, red rice yeast extract, vitamin K2.
Take home message: statins can help prevent heart attacks for specific groups of individuals but should not be used as a blanket treatment for everyone. If you are prescribed a statin, speak with your doctor about any questions or concerns you have.