Shocking as it sounds, millions of people would say "yes" (and over 43 million have, to their own doctors), without much more information than that!
Unfortunately, what millions of doctors are not telling you could actually kill you, even though this drug is (unfortunately) perfectly legal to prescribe and to take. So let me tell you a bit more about this type of drug, and see if you still say yes....
What if I told you this drug will lower your cholesterol, BUT the side effects include diabetes, cataracts, muscle weakness and deterioration, debilitating joint pain, liver damage, drug-induced lupus, digestive issues including diarrhea and constipation, memory loss, and increased risk of developing Alzheimers disease, ALS, and MS? (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8).
What if I then told you that this drug has basically no tangible benefit to the vast majority of the people who take it, and that while it will lower your cholesterol, what it will not do is reduce your risk of developing heart disease, or dying from a heart attack or stroke?
And finally, what if I told you that this is one of the most profitable drugs on the market, and by prescribing it to you, I will receive a great kickback?
Are you still saying "yes"???
Don't believe me? Here are a few facts worth mentioning.
- Statin drugs lower cholesterol production by the liver and the brain (yes, the vast majority of the cholesterol in your body is actually produced by your body - not ingested in your food - see our previous blog post about this).
However, cholesterol is crucially important for brain function. It makes up a large portion of your brain, including the growth and maintenance of neurons, and the transportation of signals across synapses in the brain (9). This in-depth article discusses this at length when describing the possible connection between statin use and the development of Alzheimer's disease (10).
As a reporter on one study is quoted, "By depriving the brain of cholesterol, you directly affect the machinery that triggers the release of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters affect the data-processing and memory functions. In other words -- how smart you are and how well you remember things." (11)
Does this really sound like something you want to do?
- The use of statins has also been linked to the development of other neurologically-related diseases, such as ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease), and MS (multiple schlerosis) - partly for the same reasons. Statins inhibit the development of cholesterol, which makes up the myelin sheath that insulates the nerves in the brain (12).
Not only do they thus cause damage to this sheath, but they also stop the brain from repairing already existing damage, by inhibiting myelin production (of which a key component is, of course, cholesterol) (13).
- The lens of your eye is largely made up of - you guessed it - cholesterol. Some recent and very troubling studies have shown a direct correlation between statin use and the development of cataracts - particularly in people over 55 (who are also among the highest users of statin drugs).
In a recent study of a group of individuals ranging in age from 30 to 85, the risk of developing cataracts was nearly 30% higher among statin users. Not only that, but the study also showed that the longer you take the drug, the greater your risk (14), (15).
For Type 2 diabetics, the risk was even higher - in fact, the risk of a diabetic developing cataracts was 85% higher for those taking statin drugs than those who weren't - and the cataracts also developed at a much faster rate (16)!
While diabetes does increase your risk of heart problems, statins do nothing to lower them, so don't believe the hype - just say no - especially if you're diabetic.
- We all know that Type 2 diabetes is a completely preventable disease, right? If we all ate the right foods, exercised regularly, and otherwise took care of our bodies, Type 2 diabetes would be virtually non-existent. Instead, it's one of the fastest growing health problems in the world. But besides our propensity to eat a horrible diet of heavily processed foods and sugars, there may be another factor in developing diabetes that your doctor never told you about.
A recent study at the University of Eastern Finland analyzed six years of data from 8,749 men between the ages of 45 to 73, and estimated that people who use statins have a 46 percent greater chance of developing diabetes than those who don't (17).
This actually makes a lot of scientific sense, since statins activate a specialized immune response that blocks insulin from controlling your blood sugar (18).
With over 43 million people now taking statin drugs, if this link proves causal, is it any wonder that the number of diabetics is skyrocketing?
- Worst of all, millions of people are affected by these side effects - all for little to no benefit, because statins do little or nothing to prevent strokes or heart attacks! (In fact, did you know that the early ads for Lipitor actually disclosed in the fine print that "Lipitor has not been proven to prevent heart attacks or strokes"?)
(Side Note: Of course, if you know much about cholesterol, this makes total sense, since we now know that cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease anyway - it's a symptom, not a cause. Lowering cholesterol to prevent heart disease is like blowing the smoke out of a burning house to prevent a fire.)
But don't take my word for it! Check it out yourself, with a helpful synopsis of the main studies on these drugs, which can be found at www.thennt.com (search for "statin"). (This is a really, really interesting site that gives you comprehensive info in simple, easy-to-understand terms - I definitely recommend you check it out - and feel free to invite your doctor to do so as well!)
Keep in mind that these studies are paid for and conducted by the pharmaceutical industries, and yet they have shown that:
1. For people with existing heart disease who took statin drugs for at least 5 years: 96% received 0 (zero) benefit; 1.2% were saved from death; 2.6% escaped a second heart attack, and 0.8% were spared from a stroke.
2. For people without heart disease who took statins for at least 5 years, 98% received 0 (zero) benefit, 0% were saved from death; 1.6% were spared a heart attack, and 0.4% were spared from a stroke.
And these are industry-sponsored studies!
Yet the latest news is that doctors are now recommending nearly 1/3 of adults be put on a statin drug!
If only approximately 2-4% of statin users receive any benefit from taking them, and yet doing so increases your risk of developing diabetes by 46%, and risk of developing cataracts by 30%, as well as all of the other many, many dangerous side effects, who is really benefiting from this drug?
Probably not you....
I encourage you to do some research (see the many sources cited below) and learn more about the potentially dangerous drugs you are being prescribed - before you say yes. If, after carefully analyzing the data - including the real potential benefits vs. the risks - you still want to take the drug, that's your choice.
But I implore you not to blindly say "yes" to something just because your doctor prescribes it, until you really know what it's doing to your body. Take control of your health, and educate yourself first.
Always looking out for your health,
* Please note: I am not a doctor nor a healthcare provider of any kind, nor do I play one on TV. You should not stop taking a drug without first discussing it with your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. Feel free to research the sources mentioned below to learn more, but please don't take this blog post as medical advice.
(1) Stroes E.S., et al. Statin-associated muscle symptoms: impact on statin therapy-European Atherosclerosis Society Consensus Panel Statement on Assessment, Aetiology and Management. Eur Heart J. 2015 Feb 18. pii: ehv043. [Epub ahead of print]
(2) Mansi, I., et al. "Statins and musculoskeletal conditions, arthropathies, and injuries." JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Jul 22;173(14):1-10. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6184.
(4) Chaipichit, N. "Statin adverse effects: Patients' experiences and laboratory monitoring of muscle and liver injuries." Int J Clin Pharm. 2015 Jan 29. [Epub ahead of print]
(5) Wise, Stephanie J., et al. "Statin Use and Risk for Cataract: A Nested Case-Control Study of 2 Populations in Canada and the United States." Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 2014; 30 (12): 1613 DOI: 10.1016/j.cjca.2014.08.020
(6) Gryn, Steven E., et al. "Doctor my eyes: A statin-cataract connection?" Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 2014; 30 (12): 1508 DOI: 10.1016/j.cjca.2014.08.019.
(8) Chazerain, P., et al. "Four cases of tendinopathy in patients on statin therapy." Joint Bone Spine. 2001 Oct;68(5):430-3.
(9) G. Saher, B. Brugger, C. Lappe-Siefke, W. Mobius, R. Tozawa, M.C. Wehr, F. Wieland, S. Ishibashi, and K.A. Nave, "High cholesterol level is essential for myelin membrane growth." Nat Neurosci (2005) Apr, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 468-75. Epub 2005 Mar 27.
(10) M. Simons, MD, P. Keller, PhD, J. Dichgans, MD and J.B. Schulz, MD, "Cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease: Is there a link?" Neurology (2001) Vol. 57, pp. 1089-1093.
(11) J. Tong, P.P. Borbat, J.H. Freed and Y-K Shin, "A scissors mechanism for stimulation of SNARE-mediated lipid mixing by cholesterol," PNAS (2009) March 31 Vol. 106, No. 13, pp. 5141-5146.
(12) Drug Saf 2009; 32(8): 649-61. & Neurology 2002 May 14; 58(9): 1333-7.
(13) Am J Pathol 2009 May; 174(5): 1880-90.
(14) "Association of Statin Use With Cataracts: A Propensity Score--Matched Analysis" JAMA Ophthalmology, Published online ahead of print 9/19/13, archopht.jamanetwork.com
(15) "Statins Linked to Raised Risk of Cataracts" Steven Reinberg, HealthDay News, 9/19/13, webmd.com
(16) "Statins linked with development of cataracts" Michael O'Riordan, The Heart, 8/13/12, theheart.org
(17) Cederberg, et al. "Increased risk of diabetes with statin treatment is associated with impaired insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion: A 6-year follow-up study of the METSIM cohort." Diabetologia, 2015; DOI:10.1007/s00125-015-3528-5.
(18) Henriksbo, B.D., et al. "Fluvastatin causes NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated adipose insulin resistance." Diabetes, June 2014 DOI: 10.2337/db13-1398 1939-327X.