Discover 10 dangers of statin drugs
(NaturalHealth365) With over 25 percent of American adults over age 40 currently taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol, it’s clear to see that these medications are capable of yielding astronomical profits for Big Pharma. In 2019 alone, for example, Lipitor (atorvastatin) generated a stunning $2 billion dollars in revenue for its manufacturer, Pfizer.
While statin medications are lavishly endorsed and prescribed by Western medicine, natural health experts have long cautioned of toxic side effects – and clinical research exists to back them up. Let’s take a look at ten unwanted adverse effects from statin drugs, along with some nutrients that can help manage cholesterol naturally.
Cholesterol: Villain or hero?
Most conventionally-trained physicians believe that a specific type of cholesterol known as LDL is a primary risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of mortality in the United States. Statin drugs – which include fluvastatin, simvastatin and pravastatin – are touted as lowering LDL cholesterol while raising levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Undeniably, these medications can lower cholesterol drastically. But, at what price to the body?
Research has shown that cholesterol is essential to the proper functioning of cells – and is also converted into vital hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. An increasing number of integrative doctors maintain that LDL cholesterol is actually necessary for body function – and that heart disease is really triggered by unaddressed infections, a lack of physical activity and, of course, a poor diet of processed foods and toxins.
In addition, too little cholesterol, they note, can be just as harmful as too much!
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In fact, an eye-opening 2005 study from Columbia University found that people with the very lowest total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels were twice as likely to die within three years, compared to those with the highest levels.
Statin-induced muscle stress causes muscle pain, weakness and fatigue
Muscle and joint pain are among the most common adverse effects reported by statin users. Sharp cramps, a nagging, aching sensation, persistent tenderness, muscle fatigue and even tendonitis are all on the “menu” of possible effects.
Disturbingly, experts say that these adverse effects of statin drugs may be only partially reversible.
These muscle problems can progress to myositis (an inflammation of the muscles) and, in severe cases, to rhabdomyolysis -a potentially fatal condition that can cause severe inflammation, muscle damage, muscle cell death and kidney failure.
Keep in mind, reports clearly indicate that statin drugs can cause toxic stress on the mitochondria, the “energy power stations” in the cells – thereby inhibiting the birth of new mitochondria. In addition, statin drugs can worsen symptoms of other muscle disorders such as myasthenia gravis and muscular dystrophy.
Double whammy: Statin drugs may promote muscle injury while reducing mitochondria after exercise
One of the physical benefits of exercise is to raise the quantity and function of the mitochondria. But statin use seems to cause mitochondria to decrease with exercise – meaning these drugs not only negate an important benefit of exercise, but actually reverse it.
And, being in optimal physical condition seems to offer no protection. Marathon runners and elite athletes have higher levels of muscle injury with statins compared to those not taking statins.
One study even showed that animals that exercised on statins had an astonishing 226 percent more muscle damage than those not receiving statins – a troubling finding by any standards.
Health ALERT: Statin drug “therapy” increases risk of type 2 diabetes
Statin drugs increase insulin in the blood, which can trigger insulin resistance and set the stage for type 2 diabetes. In a 2014 meta-analysis of 137,000 patients published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found a “moderately increased” risk of new-onset diabetes in patients given higher potency statins after cardiovascular events or procedures.
In the face of this powerful evidence, the FDA has been forced to acknowledge that statins can occasionally cause diabetes.
Warning: “Brain fog” ahead! Statin drugs can cause memory loss, impaired concentration and mood changes
Not only can statin drugs cause pain and muscle damage, but they can harm something that is arguably even more important – our memories and cognitive abilities. In various studies, statin drugs have been associated with forgetfulness, impaired concentration and diminished ability to remember words.
They can also cause disturbances in mood.
In 2008, Beatrice Golomb, M.D., Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego – conducted a $5 million dollar statin drug study funded by the NIH. Dr. Golomb notes that a substantial 30 percent of statin drug users report experiencing mood changes including anxiety, irritability and depression.
Statin drugs can promote obesity
Although the mechanism is unclear, statin drugs seem to lead to overeating and weight gain.
One 12-year study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that statin users increased their calorie intake by 9 percent, their fat consumption by 14.1 percent and their body mass index measurement by a hefty 1.3 – when compared to non-statin users.
It should be noted: two thirds of American adults are currently overweight or obese – a primary risk factor for heart disease.
Statins are associated with heightened cancer risk
In an extensive review of studies published in BMC Cancer, the authors reported that prolonged use of statins was associated with significantly increased risk of colorectal, bladder and lung cancers.
And, the bad news just keeps on coming.
Medical authorities warn: Watch for liver inflammation and injury
Statin drugs raise the liver’s production of enzymes, which can cause liver damage and inflammation. In fact, the Mayo Clinic specifically warns statin users to be vigilant for signs of liver damage, such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin) dark-colored urine and fatigue.
This is common sense, everything we consume must be filtered (processed) through the liver. Unfortunately, many people have no idea that they are harming their liver health.
Statins contribute to atherosclerosis
Ironically, there is some evidence that statin drugs may damage the very arteries they are supposed to protect!
In a study of 6,673 subjects published in Atherosclerosis, researchers found that statin drugs increased amounts of dangerous calcified plaque in coronary arteries -thereby raising risk of coronary heart disease.
Statin therapy causes nerve damage
Statin use is associated with higher incidence of nerve degeneration and pain.
Caution: Drugs for high cholesterol can reduce levels of antioxidants and essential nutrients
Finally, statin drugs can interfere with the production of disease-fighting molecules like glutathione – an important antioxidant that is strongly correlated with health and even longevity.
They also impair production of CoQ10, a vitamin-like antioxidant compound vital for heart health, normal blood pressure and muscle function.
Statin drugs are also associated with reduced blood levels of alpha-tocopherol (a natural form of vitamin E) and beta-carotene, an antioxidant natural plant pigment.
Support heart health with natural supplements and proper diet
Many natural healers strongly endorse CoQ10 supplementation for those taking statin drugs. Integrative healthcare providers may advise typical dosages of 100 mg to 300 mg a day, but (as always) check first with your own doctor.
For maximum benefit, your doctor may advise combining CoQ10 with vitamin E and L-carnitine.
In addition, curcumin from turmeric – a potent antioxidant that helps muscle fiber repair – and creatine, a compound needed to build muscle, can also help support mitochondrial activity. You can boost dietary levels of creatine by eating grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon and cage-free organic chicken.
And, don’t forget the importance of proper nutrition for managing cholesterol levels.
Harvard Medical School advises avoiding trans fats, refined sugars, simple carbs and alcohol – along with eating healthy amounts of oatmeal, beans, eggplant, okra, soy, nuts, cold-water fatty fish and pectin-rich fruits such as apples and strawberries.
Clearly, statin drugs come with a lot of harmful “baggage.” While you should never reduce or eliminate prescribed medications unless advised to do so by your integrative physician, it might be time for you and your doctor to take a second look at statin drugs – and have an honest talk with your doctor about the risk to your health.
Sources for this article include: