More evidence that we need to be fully aware of what we are putting into our bodies.
Tens of millions of Americans are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs -
mostly statins - and some "experts" claim that many millions more
should be taking them, including children as young as eight.
I couldn't disagree more.
Statins are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, that is, they act by blocking the enzyme in your liver that is responsible for making cholesterol (HMG-CoA reductase).
The enzyme that these drugs block is actually responsible for far more than making cholesterol.
It also makes CoQ10 which is vital for your mitochondrial health.
The fact that statin drugs cause side effects is well established - there are now 900 studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut from muscle problems to diabetes, to birth defects and increased cancer risk.
Now you can add exercise-related muscle damage to the ever growing list of harmful side effects.
Statins Can Make Exercise Harmful to Your Health
A recent study examined the effects of statin drugs on the likelihood
of exercise-related injury. The researchers measured myoglobin and
creatine kinase levels in subjects who were running the Boston marathon.
Elevated creatine kinase is a sign of damage to muscles.
Subjects being treated with statins, along with a similar number of
nonstatin-treated controls, were examined the day before the race,
immediately afterwards, and the day following. The researchers found
that the exercise-related increase in creatine kinase 24 hours after
exercise was greater in the statin users.
According to the study, published in The American Journal of Cardiology:
"In conclusion, our results show that statins increase exercise-related muscle injury."
The authors also state that their findings suggest susceptibility to
exercise-induced muscle injury from statin use increases with age. This
is tragic, to say the least, as exercise is imperative for optimal
health, especially as you get older. I'm not surprised by this finding however, as we've long known about the harm these drugs do to muscles. They can even cause life-threatening muscle degeneration, a condition known as rhabdomyolysis.
Related to this latest finding are the revelations that statin drugs decrease heart muscle function, and increase your risk of stroke.
I wrote about that this past summer. It should be quite clear that if
you're running marathons, decreased heart function and increased risk of
muscle injury is far from a desired combination. But as I mentioned
earlier, the detrimental effects of this drug do not stop there. Other
side effects may be even more troubling.
Statin-Induced Diabetes: A Hidden Epidemic?
Earlier this year, I published an article by Suzy Cohen, R.Ph.,
(widely recognized as "America's most trusted pharmacist") in which she
discussed the hidden link between statins and diabetes.
A pattern has appeared where many who start taking a statin drug end
up being diagnosed with diabetes several months later. Cohen's research
into this hidden connection prompted her to write a book on the subject
called "Diabetes Without Drugs."
However, this diagnosis is incorrect. What many of these patients have
is actually hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), caused by the medication.
In essence, it is not genuine diabetes, and can be reversed simply by
discontinuing the drug.
A recent meta-analysis confirmed that statin drugs are indeed associated with increased risk of developing diabetes.
The researchers evaluated five different clinical trials that
together examined more than 32,000 people. They found that the higher
the dosage of statin drugs being taken, the greater the diabetes risk.
The "number needed to harm" for intensive-dose statin therapy was 498
for new-onset diabetes - that's the number of people who need to take
the drug in order for one person to develop diabetes.
In even simpler terms, one out of every 498 people who are on a
high-dose statin regimen will develop diabetes. (The lower the "number
needed to harm," the greater the risk factor is.)
(As a side note, the "number needed to treat" per year for
intensive-dose statins was 155 for cardiovascular events. This means
that 155 people have to take the drug in order to prevent one
person from having a cardiovascular event.) The following scientific
reviews also reached the conclusion that statin use is associated with
increased incidence of new-onset diabetes:
- A 2010 meta-analysis of 13 statin trials,
consisting of 91,140 participants, found that statin therapy was
associated with a 9 percent increased risk for incident diabetes. Here,
the number needed to harm was 255 over four years, meaning for every 255
people on the drug, one developed diabetes as a result of the drug in
that period of time.
- In this 2009 study,
statin use was associated with a rise of fasting plasma glucose in
patients with and without diabetes, independently of other factors such
as age, and use of aspirin, β-blockers, or angiotensin-converting enzyme
inhibitors. The study included data from more than 345,400 patients
over a period of two years.
On average, statins increased fasting plasma glucose in non-diabetic
statin users by 7 mg/dL, and in diabetics, statins increased glucose
levels by 39 mg/dL.
How Do Statins Cause Diabetes?
Statins appear to provoke diabetes through a few different
mechanisms. The primary mechanism is by increasing your insulin levels,
which can be extremely harmful to your health. Chronically elevated
insulin levels cause inflammation in your body, which is the hallmark of
most chronic disease. In fact, elevated insulin levels lead to heart
disease, which, ironically, is the primary reason for taking a statin
drug in the first place!
It can also promote belly fat, high blood pressure, heart attacks,
chronic fatigue, thyroid disruption, and diseases like Parkinson's,
Alzheimer's, and cancer.
Secondly, statins increase your diabetes risk by raising your blood
sugar. When you eat a meal that contains starches and sugar, some of the
excess sugar goes to your liver, which then stores it away as
cholesterol and triglycerides. Statins work by preventing your liver
from making cholesterol. As a result, your liver returns the sugar to
your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar levels.
These drugs also rob your body of certain valuable nutrients, which
can also impact your blood sugar levels. Two nutrients in particular,
vitamin D and CoQ10, are both needed to maintain ideal blood glucose
If You Take Statins, You MUST Take CoQ10
It's extremely important to understand that taking a statin drug
without also taking CoQ10 puts your health in serious jeopardy.
Unfortunately, this describes the majority of people who take them in
the United States.
CoQ10 is a cofactor (co-enzyme) that is essential for the creation of
ATP molecules, primarily in your mitochondria, which you need for
cellular energy production. Organs such as your heart have higher energy
requirements, and therefore require more CoQ10 to function properly.
Statins deplete your body of CoQ10, which can have devastating results.
As your body gets more and more depleted of CoQ10, you may suffer
from fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness, and eventually heart
failure. Interestingly, heart failure, not heart attacks, are now the
leading cause of death due to cardiovascular diseases. Coenzyme Q10 is
also very important in the process of neutralizing free radicals. So
when your CoQ10 is depleted, you enter a vicious cycle of increased free
radicals, loss of cellular energy, and damaged mitochondrial DNA.
If you decide to take a CoQ10 supplement and are over the age of 40,
it's important to choose the reduced version, called ubiquinol.
Ubiquinol is a FAR more effective form - I personally take 1-3 a day
since it has such far ranging benefits, including compelling studies
suggesting improvement in lifespan.
Did You Know? Statins are FORBIDDEN in Pregnancy?
Like thalidomide and Accutane, statin drugs are a class X drug with
regard to pregnancy, meaning they are contraindicated and should NOT be
taken by pregnant women. They can cause significant damage to the
nervous system of a developing embryo, and are associated with
miscarriages and birth defects. A class X rating also indicates that the
potential risks always outweigh the benefits, so pregnant women should never be on a statin drug.
This issue is particularly important as currently one in four
Americans over 45 take statins, but there is a MAJOR push to start
prescribing them to younger individuals under the pretext of
"prevention. This is the very age group that is most likely to get
Part of the problem is likely related to the fact that the drug
reduces cholesterol, which is essential for proper fetal development.
Babies also need cholesterol sulfate in utero, which is significantly reduced when you take a statin.
According to Dr. Seneff, a woman has about 1.5 units of cholesterol
sulfate normally in her blood. When she gets pregnant, her blood levels
of cholesterol sulfate steadily rise, and it also begins to accumulate
in the villi in the placenta - which is where nutrients are transferred
from the placenta to the baby. At the end of pregnancy the cholesterol
sulfate in the villi rises to levels of about 24 units. Both cholesterol
and cholesterol sulfate are needed for proper brain- and heart
development and function.
Other Health Hazards Associated with Statin Drugs
GreenMedInfo.com has a list of 71 diseases that may be associated with statin drugs, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are actually over 900 studies showing the risks of statin drugs, which include:
||An increase in cancer risk
|Immune system suppression
||Muscle problems, polyneuropathy (nerve damage in the hands and feet), and rhabdomyolysis, a serious degenerative muscle tissue condition
||Hepatic dysfunction. (Due to the potential increase in liver enzymes, patients must be monitored for normal liver function)
Oftentimes statins do not have any immediate side effects,
and they are quite effective, capable of lowering cholesterol levels by
50 points or more. This makes it appear as though they're benefiting
your health, and health problems that develop later on are frequently
misinterpreted as brand new, separate health problems.
It's also worth noting that, according to a review published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs,
adverse effects are dose dependent (the higher your dose, the greater
your risk of harmful side effects), and your health risks are also
amplified by a number of factors, such as:
Vast Majority do Not Need Statin Drugs
That these drugs have proliferated the market the way they have is a
testimony to the power of marketing, corruption and corporate greed,
because the odds are very high - greater than 100 to 1 - that if you're
taking a statin, you don't really need it.
To understand why you don't need a statin drug, you first need to realize that cholesterol is NOT the cause of heart disease.
If your physician is urging you to check your total cholesterol, then
you should know that this test will tell you virtually nothing about
your risk of heart disease, unless it is 330 or higher. HDL percentage
is a far more potent indicator for heart disease risk. Here are the two
ratios you should pay attention to:
- HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: Should ideally be above 24 percent.
If below 10 percent, you have a significantly elevated risk for heart
- Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be below 2.
Your body NEEDS cholesterol - it is important in the production of
cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to
digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital
to your neurological function.
How to Optimize Your Cholesterol Levels, Naturally
There's no doubt that statin drugs can wreak havoc with your health,
and there's compelling evidence that most people who currently take them
simply do not need them. The fact is that 75 percent of your
cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your
insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will
automatically optimize your cholesterol!
By modifying your diet and lifestyle in the following ways, you can safely modify your cholesterol:
- Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your
diet, replacing them with mostly whole, fresh vegetable carbs. Also try
to consume a good portion of your food raw.
- Make sure you are getting enough high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil.
- Other heart-healthy foods include olive oil, coconut and coconut
oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds,
and organic grass-fed meats as appropriate for your nutritional type.
- Exercise daily.
- Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
- Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep.
Unlike statin drugs, which lower your cholesterol at the expense of
your health, these lifestyle strategies represent a holistic approach
that will benefit your overall health - which includes a healthy