A Few Reasons To Avoid Statins

      72 Comments on A Few Reasons To Avoid Statins

My good friend Tom Monahan (also the composer for Fat Head) just returned from visiting his family on the east coast and was dismayed to learn that his mother is still taking statins.  She has of course seen the film, and Tom has sent her quite a bit of information explaining why statins are worthless for women, but apparently she wasn’t convinced.  Or, since Tom has also noticed her memory is fading, perhaps she just forgot everything he told her.

Statins are the most profitable drugs in history.  They’re also some of the worst.

Let’s get the big question out of the way first:  do statins work?  That is, do they prevent heart disease?  Yes … but not by much and not for any significant share of the population taking them.  They were engineered to reduce cholesterol, and they do.  But the small benefit they provide is likely due to the fact that they also reduce inflammation — and you can do that by giving up sugar and processed vegetable oils.

The only people shown to benefit from statins in clinical research are men under the age of 65 who have several risk factors for heart disease.  That’s it.  And even for them, the benefit isn’t exactly impressive.  If you watch prime-time TV for more than 10 minutes, you’ll no doubt see a commercial telling you that Lipitor reduces the risk of heart attacks by 33%.  Wow!  That’s a huge reduction in risk, right?

Hardly.  First off, if you can manage to read the fine print during the millisecond it appears on your screen, you’ll learn that the reduction is among the group I just mentioned:  relatively younger men with existing heart disease.  Millions of prescriptions for Lipitor are written for suckers — sorry, I mean patients — who aren’t 1) men, 2) known to have several risk factors for heart disease, or 3) under age 65.  In other words, people who don’t fall into the group that actually benefits.

And about that 33% reduction … I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating:  you have to understand how that figure was calculated.  Among the relatively young men with known risk factors for heart disease who took Lipitor in a clinical trial, two of every 100 had a heart attack.  Among the relatively young men with known risk factors for heart disease who took a placebo, three of every 100 had a heart attack.  Yes, that’s a 33% reduction, but it also means that for every 100 high-risk men who take Lipitor, we may at best be preventing one heart attack.

Notice I didn’t say we may be preventing one extra death.  That’s because we don’t have the figures to analyze.  The pharmaceutical companies are quick to release figures showing reductions in heart attacks, but haven’t always released the total death figures.  If that doesn’t make you suspicious, then you should expect to receive some emails from Nigerians who want to borrow your bank account to transfer a few million dollars out of Africa.

For the millions of statin-takers who aren’t men under 65 with several known risk factors for heart disease, lord only knows how many heart attacks — if any — are being prevented.  The number has to be miniscule.  And yet doctors keep prescribing statins because it makes them feel better when a patient’s “high” cholesterol level comes down. 

While the doctors may feel better, the patients often feel worse.  Even mainstream magazines like TIME are starting to figure it out.  Here are some quotes from a TIME article published a few weeks ago:

Doctors say the majority of current statin users are healthy people who don’t have heart disease but who, like Segal, simply have high cholesterol. Use among this group, known as the primary prevention population, has made these drugs one of the world’s best-selling classes.

But Segal’s statin ended up preventing her from living a heart-healthy lifestyle. A month after she started taking the drug, she suffered muscle pain so severe, she had to stop all physical activity and was unable to sleep at night. Although her husband, who was worried about her risk of heart attack, pleaded with her to stay on the drug, she discontinued using it. The muscle pain receded. “My husband was scared for me. Doctors scare you. But I was in so much pain, I told him I would have rather died than stay on them,” says Segal.

That grim situation could have been avoided, researchers say. An estimated 12 million American women are routinely prescribed statins, which carry a risk of serious side effects. Yet there is little evidence that they prevent heart disease in women. In past research, statin therapy has been shown to prolong the lives of people with heart disease. It has also been shown to stave off the onset of heart disease in healthy at-risk adults. But researchers who have broken out and analyzed the data on healthy female patients in these trials found that the lifesaving benefit, which extends to men, does not cross the gender divide. What’s more, there’s evidence that women are more likely than men to suffer some of the drugs’ serious side effects, which can include memory loss, muscle pain and diabetes.

My mom had serious muscle pain when she was taking a statin.  Her doctor never connected the pain to the statin.  I did, after doing research for the film.  Convincing her to give up the statin was one of my prouder moments.  She not only gave up the statin, she gave up the painkiller she was taking to mask the effects.

So how common are the side effects?  That depends on who you ask.  According to the pharmaceutical companies, only about 2% of patients experience side effects.  But Dr. Beatrice Golomb, a researcher at the University of California who’s been tracking statin side effects for years, says the rate could be as high as 30%.

Does this mean the pharmaceutical companies are lying?  Not exactly.  Once again, it’s a matter of how the research is conducted.  When a company like Pfizer is selecting subjects for a study, they exclude the people who have reported side effects when taking other drugs.  Sometimes researchers even give prospective patients a big, fat dose of something to see how they react.  If the reaction is something like, “Man, that made me feel like @#$%,” the prospective patient is no longer a prospective patient.

So go figure … after cherry-picking a population that’s resistant to side effects, the researchers report a low rate of negative reactions during the clinical trials.  That’s why Pfizer can refer to “rare but serious” side effects in their commercials.  I’m guessing the side effects are only rare in their clinical trials.  But they’re definitely serious, as this article in the UK Daily Mail recently pointed out:

For the first time, the level of harm posed by the cholesterol-lowering drugs has been quantified by researchers.  They found some users are much more likely to suffer liver dysfunction, acute kidney failure, cataracts and muscle damage known as myopathy.

For some patients, the risk is eight times higher than among those not taking statins. Overall, the risk of myopathy – which may be irreversible – is six times higher for men on statins and three times higher for women.

So taking a drug that does a chemical beat-down on your liver’s cholesterol-making functions can end up causing liver damage?  Well, I am shocked.   Researchers have also linked statins to diabetes, and diabetes is a huge risk factor for future heart disease.  (You have a risk factor for heart disease?  Better take this statin.)

Myopathy is medical term for weak muscles.  Statins cause myopathy because they deplete the muscles of CoQ10, and the mitochondria — the little power plants in the muscles — depend on the stuff.  Not surprisingly, after being robbed of an essential nutrient, the muscles can ache and become weak.  If it were just a matter of giving up the statins, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal.  But according to Dr. Golomb’s research, more than 2/3 of the patients who suffer statin-induced myopathy never regain the full use of their muscles.  The damaged mitochondria don’t recover.

Then, of course, there are the memory problems.  Dr. Duane Graveline, a former NASA flight surgeon whose muscles were permanently damaged by statins, also experienced day-long episodes of transient amnesia until he traced them to his daily dose of Lipitor and stopped taking it.  As I’ve written about before, my dad also suffered day-long episodes of profound confusion in his mid-60s, a few years before his Alzheimer’s became apparent.  I don’t know if Lipitor caused the Alzheimer’s, but I’m convinced it at least accelerated his decline. 

Dr. Golomb believes cognitive and memory problems are far more common than reported, but since most statin-takers are elderly (once again, a group not shown to benefit from taking them), their doctors assume they’re just having “senior moments.”  The side effects are never reported.

Add it all up, roll it over, press it flat and give it one more analysis, and you’re looking at drugs that produce a relatively small benefit among one small slice of the male population that isn’t likely to suffer negative reactions in the first place.  Meanwhile, people outside that group receive no measurable benefit (aside from making their doctors happy with their cholesterol scores) and can suffer memory problems, liver damage, kidney failure, diabetes, permanent muscle weakness, and — forgot to mention this earlier — impotence.

These are the some of the worst drugs ever.  I only wish Tom could convince his mother while she still remembers who he is.

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72 thoughts on “A Few Reasons To Avoid Statins

  1. Melissa

    I tell my grandmother to get off Statins all the time.
    She’s on them for supposed high cholesterol.
    Her memory is going to the dumpster and now she is having heart problems.
    But no one is connecting it to the Statins. In fact when I tell her about them she gets angry at me. I think she’s just too afraid to not listen to her doctor.

    And now she’s on even more medication than just Statins as a result of all these other incidences. Way to go Statin drugs.

    They’re the ultimate profit-producing drugs: you pay for them, then you need other drugs to treat the side effects.

    Reply
  2. Howard

    Important stuff as usual, Tom.

    My brother was 330lbs. with severe rheumatoid arthritis and high cholesterol. His doctor had him on a statin and Enbrel for the RA. And he was considering bariatric surgery. This past January I convinced him to try low carb. He has stuck with it, lost weight, his RA is almost non-existent, and he stopped taking his statin, despite the pleas of his doctor. I am very proud of him and thankful that he is on his way to good health. The doctors really are brainwashed.

    Outstanding. Here’s to his continued good health. You’ve done a good deed.

    Reply
  3. Tracey

    Unfortunately they target the elderly who seem to take the Doc’s word as gospel – the medical profession can do no wrong and are considered almost ‘godlike’, esp in my mother’s eyes. Us young ‘uns are more likely to question and research for ourselves before agreeing to any treatment.

    Glad you managed to influence your mum Tom.

    Believe me, I had to work to overcome white-coat syndrome with her.

    Reply
  4. Melissa

    I tell my grandmother to get off Statins all the time.
    She’s on them for supposed high cholesterol.
    Her memory is going to the dumpster and now she is having heart problems.
    But no one is connecting it to the Statins. In fact when I tell her about them she gets angry at me. I think she’s just too afraid to not listen to her doctor.

    And now she’s on even more medication than just Statins as a result of all these other incidences. Way to go Statin drugs.

    They’re the ultimate profit-producing drugs: you pay for them, then you need other drugs to treat the side effects.

    Reply
  5. Howard

    Important stuff as usual, Tom.

    My brother was 330lbs. with severe rheumatoid arthritis and high cholesterol. His doctor had him on a statin and Enbrel for the RA. And he was considering bariatric surgery. This past January I convinced him to try low carb. He has stuck with it, lost weight, his RA is almost non-existent, and he stopped taking his statin, despite the pleas of his doctor. I am very proud of him and thankful that he is on his way to good health. The doctors really are brainwashed.

    Outstanding. Here’s to his continued good health. You’ve done a good deed.

    Reply
  6. The 50 Best Health Blogs

    I have known doctors who practiced what they preached, and they took statins.

    I would like to ask them about this new information. Unfortunately, they have died.

    And ones still alive may not remember taking them.

    Reply
  7. Laurie

    I got this link (from Hyperlipid), went and read it and I’m sending it to you.
    “RECENT CHOLESTEROL-LOWERING DRUG TRIALS:
    NEW DATA, NEW QUESTIONS”

    Michel de Lorgeril and Patricia Salen
    J. Lipid Nutr. Vol.19, No.1 (2010)
    http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jln/19/1/65/_pdf
    Another link from Hyperlipid, originally I only got the Pubmed Abstract but coincidentally, I received the whole article from my colleges service. I will send the whole thing to you if you let me know where to send it. From the journal Atherosclerosis “The good and the bad in the link between insulin resistance and vascular calcification.” This is about insulin causing your artery walls to de-differentiate and with the help of calcium, turn into BONE (artery hardening) cells.
    This is all of a piece and you mentioned in an post before that while not everyone with AD is taking Lipitor, a goodly % of Americans on the SAD are insulin resistant.
    Cholesterol is part of what makes us human and what differentiates us from all other creatures on the planet in making up our vastly different and very much more complex human brains (Stephen Cunnane “Survival of the Fattest”). Cholesterol is a marker for heart disease (there are about 200 other symptoms- “The Great Cholesterol Con” and “Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You”) . In Fields’ “The Other Brain” I was reminded that cholesterol is required lifelong in the new creation and old repair of the synapses. There are 100 billion neurons AND 1000 billion glial brain cells. That’s a lot of cholesterol needed to service 1.1 trillion vital brain cells and cholesterolly axons to all those cells that if laid end to end would wrap around the earth four times. Cholesterol is NEVER used as fuel, only for structure. We must consume cholesterol and the precursors for it! The low-fat recommendations- eatlowfatlowcholesterolnonanimalfoods- are criminal.

    I downloaded the PDF and I’ll let you know where to send the other article, thanks.

    Reply
  8. Tracey

    Unfortunately they target the elderly who seem to take the Doc’s word as gospel – the medical profession can do no wrong and are considered almost ‘godlike’, esp in my mother’s eyes. Us young ‘uns are more likely to question and research for ourselves before agreeing to any treatment.

    Glad you managed to influence your mum Tom.

    Believe me, I had to work to overcome white-coat syndrome with her.

    Reply
  9. Scott

    “Dr. Golomb believes cognitive and memory problems are far more common than reported”

    I’m positive MY doctor did NOT report the issues I reported to him. Not only that, but he tried to trick me into taking a different statin, telling me it wasn’t a statin. Thank goodness for Google, I looked it up. I now have a very different doctor. I’m male, and at the time I was prescribed Lipitor I was 40. I was only on the drug for 3 months. I was almost fired from my job of 12 years, my cognitive abilities were so badly impaired. I stopped taking the drug (against my doctor’s advice), and have the same job 6 years later.

    Your doctor tried to hide the fact that you were taking a statin?! Man, that’s outrageous.

    Reply
  10. Lovely Lentilla

    Oh, and thank you Tom, for this blog which is salutary for me right now having just survived a round of doctor visits full of extraordinarily bad advice. It’s such a wake up to have to go through the medical circus and feel the pressure to succumb to medical authority – and this is ME, I’m not somebody who lets anyone do my thinking for me, and I have a LOT of confidence in my intellect… so if I’m feeling wobbly, then I assume that people who are lot easier to bully are getting bullied. At one level, that is what is happening in relation to medical treatments of dubious benefit that serve corporate interests.

    Yup, and it’s hard for some people to resist the white-coat authority figure. When my dad’s cardiologist bullied my mom into putting my dad back on Lipitor for awhile, I had a couple of doctors write up their objections to statins so I could forward them to my mom — thus battling white coats with white coats.

    Reply
  11. Jan

    My husband went to the doctor for a checkup a couple of years ago; they did blood work and that was that. About a week later, we got a phone call from the neighborhood pharmacy asking when he was going to pick up his prescription. What prescription? we asked. A prescription for Lipitor, they said.

    My husband called the doctor’s office and didn’t get past the receptionist, who told him his cholesterol was “high” and the doctor had prescribed him the Lipitor. He asked if he could speak to the doctor and the receptionist told him no – he needed to take the statins and come back for more blood work in six weeks.

    He asked me what he should do and I simply told him that I’d beat him senseless with a cast iron skillet if he took the damn drug – I listen to all those disclaimers about side-effects and I’m sorry, but I never thought the benefits outweighed the nasty stuff that could happen if you took them.

    Needless to say we fired our doctor.

    Good move. I fired a doctor after he counseled me to go on a lowfat diet because my cholesterol was “elevated” at 203. That’s with HDL of 64 and TG of 70. I actually tried to explain to his nurse that my cholesterol score was excellent. Like talking to a wall.

    Reply
  12. The 50 Best Health Blogs

    I have known doctors who practiced what they preached, and they took statins.

    I would like to ask them about this new information. Unfortunately, they have died.

    And ones still alive may not remember taking them.

    Reply
  13. John

    Thanks for your post Tom and taking all this time. If you haven’t already wandered into it, there has been some good discussion at science-based medicine, with the SkepDoc defending statin use http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=437. I generally like her writing and this crowd, and their insistence on clear science, taking on all forms of quackery, but I still see statin use as risky. She (Harriet Hall) also has articles taking on THINC, with a little unseemly snarkiness and insinuation that Ravnskov et al are quacks.

    She writes: “There is good evidence that statins reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes for people at high risk, including women and the elderly. It is more effective as secondary prevention (for those who already have cardiovascular disease), but is also clearly effective for primary prevention in high risk groups. There is good evidence that they reduce cardiovascular mortality and also evidence that they reduce all-cause mortality, at least in some groups. The Cholesterol Skeptics deny this, but it is getting harder and harder to deny, as more studies keep pouring out showing benefits from statins.
    That said, they are being overprescribed, and the NNT (number needed to treat) is relatively high. The JUPITER study suggested that they might benefit people whose cholesterol is normal but whose CRP is high. We are still trying to pin down who should get statins, but it is clear that some of us should, and not just men under 65 with previous disease.”

    The studies touting the benefits are often conducted by the pharmaceutical companies themselves, and I find the results suspicious because of the cherry-picking aspect. You may recall statins were said to reduce the risk of colon cancer at one time; now a recent study showed an increased rate of adenomas among statin-takers.

    Clearly a small fraction of the population can benefit from them. Even Dr. Graveline, author of “Lipitor, Thief of Memory,” supports giving low-dose statins to men with known plaque accumulation. The JUPITER study actually casts huge doubts on the whole Lipid Hypothesis, although it’s not often interpreted that way. Lowering inflammation reduces the rate of heart attacks among people who DON’T have high cholesterol. The correct interpretation is of that result is that it’s always been inflammation driving heart disease, not cholesterol levels, and therefore beating down cholesterol with drugs was misguided. But the statin-makers have managed to package the result as “Look how fantastic these drugs are … they reduce cholesterol AND reduce inflammation!” So how about we develop a drug that just reduces the inflammation and leaves cholesterol (and CoQ10) alone.

    Reply
  14. 1956okie

    Yep, my mother was nearly crippled by statins, so her doc kept switching her to brand after brand–as she lived in constant pain and feared falling every day. The doc would NEVER EVER admit the statins caused the problem–even to this day (3 years later)!! Now that she’s off them, he continues to feed her horror stories about the STROKE or heart attack lying in wait for her. Makes me FURIOUS! Her father is 95 and has cholesterol of 350. He’s perfectly healthy and takes NO meds at all….I think my mom’s “high” cholesterol (300) is probably just as “detrimental” (cough, cough) as her dad’s is. Stupid doctor.

    Her doctor probably thinks her father dodged a bullet.

    Reply
  15. Marianne

    How do you know the medication is a statin? Thank you.

    If you read the label, somewhere below the brand name, you’ll find the chemical name: lovastatin, simvastatin, rosuvastatin, atorvastatin, etc.

    Reply
  16. Laurie

    I got this link (from Hyperlipid), went and read it and I’m sending it to you.
    “RECENT CHOLESTEROL-LOWERING DRUG TRIALS:
    NEW DATA, NEW QUESTIONS”

    Michel de Lorgeril and Patricia Salen
    J. Lipid Nutr. Vol.19, No.1 (2010)
    http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jln/19/1/65/_pdf
    Another link from Hyperlipid, originally I only got the Pubmed Abstract but coincidentally, I received the whole article from my colleges service. I will send the whole thing to you if you let me know where to send it. From the journal Atherosclerosis “The good and the bad in the link between insulin resistance and vascular calcification.” This is about insulin causing your artery walls to de-differentiate and with the help of calcium, turn into BONE (artery hardening) cells.
    This is all of a piece and you mentioned in an post before that while not everyone with AD is taking Lipitor, a goodly % of Americans on the SAD are insulin resistant.
    Cholesterol is part of what makes us human and what differentiates us from all other creatures on the planet in making up our vastly different and very much more complex human brains (Stephen Cunnane “Survival of the Fattest”). Cholesterol is a marker for heart disease (there are about 200 other symptoms- “The Great Cholesterol Con” and “Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You”) . In Fields’ “The Other Brain” I was reminded that cholesterol is required lifelong in the new creation and old repair of the synapses. There are 100 billion neurons AND 1000 billion glial brain cells. That’s a lot of cholesterol needed to service 1.1 trillion vital brain cells and cholesterolly axons to all those cells that if laid end to end would wrap around the earth four times. Cholesterol is NEVER used as fuel, only for structure. We must consume cholesterol and the precursors for it! The low-fat recommendations- eatlowfatlowcholesterolnonanimalfoods- are criminal.

    I downloaded the PDF and I’ll let you know where to send the other article, thanks.

    Reply
  17. Dana Carpender

    Great stuff, Tom. I’ve linked to this post from holdthetoast, because I think all my readers should see it.

    Thank you, Dana. Let’s hope we get a few people to re-think the matter.

    Reply
  18. gallier2

    I once tried to follow up on the people posting on sciencebasedmedecine. What I found was that more than one writer there was working for or benefited a lot from big pharma/medecine. Seeing as they were hypocrites as they weren’t applying the high standards they pretended to endorse to themselves, I concluded not to lose my time on this vile and dangerous site.

    Can’t say I’m surprised. Dr. Grundy, one of the big promoters of statins in the media, is on the payroll as well.

    Reply
  19. Paul451

    There’s practically no reason at all for any woman of any age to be on a statin.

    For men, statins can cause erectile dysfunction. Statins are tough on the liver and slow down the P450 system which is what helps excrete estrogen from the blood stream. Estrogen is what the hypothalmus reads when it decides to deliver the strength of the signal to the pituitary to release Leutinizing Hormone (LH) which is what then signals the testicles to make testosterone. Testosterone is converted in the body by aromatase enzymes to estrogen and to dihydrotestosterone by 5-alpha-reductase. When the liver isnt properly clearing the estrogen conversion products from testosterone, the hypothalmus sees a high level of estrogen and begins downregulating testosterone production and the next stop is ED.

    And so you buy yet another drug.

    Reply
  20. Dave, RN

    The JUPITER study was paid for by AstraZeneca, the makers of the statin Crestor. I’ll never understand why pharmaceutical companies are allowed to do their own studies.

    It’s a cost issue. A clinical drug trial runs close to a billion dollars.

    Reply
  21. Scott

    “Dr. Golomb believes cognitive and memory problems are far more common than reported”

    I’m positive MY doctor did NOT report the issues I reported to him. Not only that, but he tried to trick me into taking a different statin, telling me it wasn’t a statin. Thank goodness for Google, I looked it up. I now have a very different doctor. I’m male, and at the time I was prescribed Lipitor I was 40. I was only on the drug for 3 months. I was almost fired from my job of 12 years, my cognitive abilities were so badly impaired. I stopped taking the drug (against my doctor’s advice), and have the same job 6 years later.

    Your doctor tried to hide the fact that you were taking a statin?! Man, that’s outrageous.

    Reply
  22. Lovely Lentilla

    Oh, and thank you Tom, for this blog which is salutary for me right now having just survived a round of doctor visits full of extraordinarily bad advice. It’s such a wake up to have to go through the medical circus and feel the pressure to succumb to medical authority – and this is ME, I’m not somebody who lets anyone do my thinking for me, and I have a LOT of confidence in my intellect… so if I’m feeling wobbly, then I assume that people who are lot easier to bully are getting bullied. At one level, that is what is happening in relation to medical treatments of dubious benefit that serve corporate interests.

    Yup, and it’s hard for some people to resist the white-coat authority figure. When my dad’s cardiologist bullied my mom into putting my dad back on Lipitor for awhile, I had a couple of doctors write up their objections to statins so I could forward them to my mom — thus battling white coats with white coats.

    Reply
  23. Jan

    My husband went to the doctor for a checkup a couple of years ago; they did blood work and that was that. About a week later, we got a phone call from the neighborhood pharmacy asking when he was going to pick up his prescription. What prescription? we asked. A prescription for Lipitor, they said.

    My husband called the doctor’s office and didn’t get past the receptionist, who told him his cholesterol was “high” and the doctor had prescribed him the Lipitor. He asked if he could speak to the doctor and the receptionist told him no – he needed to take the statins and come back for more blood work in six weeks.

    He asked me what he should do and I simply told him that I’d beat him senseless with a cast iron skillet if he took the damn drug – I listen to all those disclaimers about side-effects and I’m sorry, but I never thought the benefits outweighed the nasty stuff that could happen if you took them.

    Needless to say we fired our doctor.

    Good move. I fired a doctor after he counseled me to go on a lowfat diet because my cholesterol was “elevated” at 203. That’s with HDL of 64 and TG of 70. I actually tried to explain to his nurse that my cholesterol score was excellent. Like talking to a wall.

    Reply
  24. John

    Thanks for your post Tom and taking all this time. If you haven’t already wandered into it, there has been some good discussion at science-based medicine, with the SkepDoc defending statin use http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=437. I generally like her writing and this crowd, and their insistence on clear science, taking on all forms of quackery, but I still see statin use as risky. She (Harriet Hall) also has articles taking on THINC, with a little unseemly snarkiness and insinuation that Ravnskov et al are quacks.

    She writes: “There is good evidence that statins reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes for people at high risk, including women and the elderly. It is more effective as secondary prevention (for those who already have cardiovascular disease), but is also clearly effective for primary prevention in high risk groups. There is good evidence that they reduce cardiovascular mortality and also evidence that they reduce all-cause mortality, at least in some groups. The Cholesterol Skeptics deny this, but it is getting harder and harder to deny, as more studies keep pouring out showing benefits from statins.
    That said, they are being overprescribed, and the NNT (number needed to treat) is relatively high. The JUPITER study suggested that they might benefit people whose cholesterol is normal but whose CRP is high. We are still trying to pin down who should get statins, but it is clear that some of us should, and not just men under 65 with previous disease.”

    The studies touting the benefits are often conducted by the pharmaceutical companies themselves, and I find the results suspicious because of the cherry-picking aspect. You may recall statins were said to reduce the risk of colon cancer at one time; now a recent study showed an increased rate of adenomas among statin-takers.

    Clearly a small fraction of the population can benefit from them. Even Dr. Graveline, author of “Lipitor, Thief of Memory,” supports giving low-dose statins to men with known plaque accumulation. The JUPITER study actually casts huge doubts on the whole Lipid Hypothesis, although it’s not often interpreted that way. Lowering inflammation reduces the rate of heart attacks among people who DON’T have high cholesterol. The correct interpretation is of that result is that it’s always been inflammation driving heart disease, not cholesterol levels, and therefore beating down cholesterol with drugs was misguided. But the statin-makers have managed to package the result as “Look how fantastic these drugs are … they reduce cholesterol AND reduce inflammation!” So how about we develop a drug that just reduces the inflammation and leaves cholesterol (and CoQ10) alone.

    Reply
  25. 1956okie

    Yep, my mother was nearly crippled by statins, so her doc kept switching her to brand after brand–as she lived in constant pain and feared falling every day. The doc would NEVER EVER admit the statins caused the problem–even to this day (3 years later)!! Now that she’s off them, he continues to feed her horror stories about the STROKE or heart attack lying in wait for her. Makes me FURIOUS! Her father is 95 and has cholesterol of 350. He’s perfectly healthy and takes NO meds at all….I think my mom’s “high” cholesterol (300) is probably just as “detrimental” (cough, cough) as her dad’s is. Stupid doctor.

    Her doctor probably thinks her father dodged a bullet.

    Reply
  26. Marianne

    How do you know the medication is a statin? Thank you.

    If you read the label, somewhere below the brand name, you’ll find the chemical name: lovastatin, simvastatin, rosuvastatin, atorvastatin, etc.

    Reply
  27. Dana Carpender

    Great stuff, Tom. I’ve linked to this post from holdthetoast, because I think all my readers should see it.

    Thank you, Dana. Let’s hope we get a few people to re-think the matter.

    Reply
  28. gallier2

    I once tried to follow up on the people posting on sciencebasedmedecine. What I found was that more than one writer there was working for or benefited a lot from big pharma/medecine. Seeing as they were hypocrites as they weren’t applying the high standards they pretended to endorse to themselves, I concluded not to lose my time on this vile and dangerous site.

    Can’t say I’m surprised. Dr. Grundy, one of the big promoters of statins in the media, is on the payroll as well.

    Reply
  29. Paul451

    There’s practically no reason at all for any woman of any age to be on a statin.

    For men, statins can cause erectile dysfunction. Statins are tough on the liver and slow down the P450 system which is what helps excrete estrogen from the blood stream. Estrogen is what the hypothalmus reads when it decides to deliver the strength of the signal to the pituitary to release Leutinizing Hormone (LH) which is what then signals the testicles to make testosterone. Testosterone is converted in the body by aromatase enzymes to estrogen and to dihydrotestosterone by 5-alpha-reductase. When the liver isnt properly clearing the estrogen conversion products from testosterone, the hypothalmus sees a high level of estrogen and begins downregulating testosterone production and the next stop is ED.

    And so you buy yet another drug.

    Reply
  30. Dave, RN

    The JUPITER study was paid for by AstraZeneca, the makers of the statin Crestor. I’ll never understand why pharmaceutical companies are allowed to do their own studies.

    It’s a cost issue. A clinical drug trial runs close to a billion dollars.

    Reply
  31. Ellen

    Thanks for the link to UK article, I’m adding it to my page on the dangers of statins. I recently attended a conference and heard Dr. Peter Langsjoen speak. He is a cardiologist who practices in Tyler, Texas and he is an expert on CoQ10. This is what he said about statins: “They are the worst drugs ever created. They are poison, and if you are taking them, stop taking them and throw them in the garbage. Or you could give them to someone you really, really don’t like.”

    It was a great talk, and there was a women in the audience who told of how Dr. Langsjoen helped her father.. the man was on 15 different medications including statins, bedridden, and nearly comatose. Dr. Langsjoen took the patient off of the statins, and had him start taking large doses of CoQ10. The woman told us that her father was able to recover most of his normal function and lived another 6 years. I tell you, if I ever have heart issues, I’ll be going to Tyler, Texas to see Dr. Langsjoen.

    Glad to know he’s out there practicing medicine. There a few who get it … Dr. Al Sears, Dr. William Davis, Dr. Mary Vernon. Mike and Mary Dan Eades get it, of course, but they don’t do clinical work anymore.

    Did anyone videotape that speech?

    Reply
  32. Ned Kock

    The success of statins is only matched by that of food companies that sell us foods rich in refined carbs and sugars. These foods are arguably the ones that really lead to cardiovascular problems.

    I reviewed a study recently that included multiple possible causative factors and their effect on arterial stiffness, including glucose- and lipid-related factors. It was a multiple regression study. Compared to glucose (especially post-meals), lipids were not even on the radar screen:

    http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/05/postprandial-glucose-levels-hba1c-and.html

    Indeed, we’ve been shooting at the wrong target for 50 years now.

    Reply
  33. Ellen

    Thanks for the link to UK article, I’m adding it to my page on the dangers of statins. I recently attended a conference and heard Dr. Peter Langsjoen speak. He is a cardiologist who practices in Tyler, Texas and he is an expert on CoQ10. This is what he said about statins: “They are the worst drugs ever created. They are poison, and if you are taking them, stop taking them and throw them in the garbage. Or you could give them to someone you really, really don’t like.”

    It was a great talk, and there was a women in the audience who told of how Dr. Langsjoen helped her father.. the man was on 15 different medications including statins, bedridden, and nearly comatose. Dr. Langsjoen took the patient off of the statins, and had him start taking large doses of CoQ10. The woman told us that her father was able to recover most of his normal function and lived another 6 years. I tell you, if I ever have heart issues, I’ll be going to Tyler, Texas to see Dr. Langsjoen.

    Glad to know he’s out there practicing medicine. There a few who get it … Dr. Al Sears, Dr. William Davis, Dr. Mary Vernon. Mike and Mary Dan Eades get it, of course, but they don’t do clinical work anymore.

    Did anyone videotape that speech?

    Reply
  34. Ned Kock

    The success of statins is only matched by that of food companies that sell us foods rich in refined carbs and sugars. These foods are arguably the ones that really lead to cardiovascular problems.

    I reviewed a study recently that included multiple possible causative factors and their effect on arterial stiffness, including glucose- and lipid-related factors. It was a multiple regression study. Compared to glucose (especially post-meals), lipids were not even on the radar screen:

    http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/05/postprandial-glucose-levels-hba1c-and.html

    Indeed, we’ve been shooting at the wrong target for 50 years now.

    Reply
  35. Sue

    I had problems with my muscles when I took Lipitor, so I took myself off of it and switched to Red Yeast Rice (I did not notify my doctor). I did not realize that it is a, supposedly, natural lovastatin. It actually did reduce my total cholesterol by about 100 points in just about two months. But it was not worth it. I had worse muscle problems with the Red Yeast Rice than I had with the Lipitor, but the problems came on so slowly that I did not connect the dots. I actually had a workmans comp going with my employer because I thought I had carpal tunnel. I was getting muscle testing done and going to physical therapy with no improvements. I was only getting weaker and weaker. I ran out of the Red Yeast Rice and didn’t bother to get anymore. Within two weeks I noticed my symptoms were lessening. I was also finding that I was having difficulty staying focused, especially while I was driving. My mind was all over the place. I was on that stuff for probably seven or eight months! I am fortunate not to have any permanent muscle damage. My focus is not quite back to where it should be, but it certainly is much, much better.

    My doctor wanted to put me on an “older” cholesterol lower drug that sounded like a chemistry experiment and I declined after reading about the side effects. My doctor was ticked and told me “that was why she doesn’t even tell her patients about the sided effects, because they give her grief about them, and get nervous about taking them. Yikes! Sadly, I know that she believes that she is doing them a favor by keeping them uninformed.

    I think the lesson is that your body makes cholesterol for a reason, and beating it down artificially simply isn’t a good idea.

    Reply
  36. Sue

    I had problems with my muscles when I took Lipitor, so I took myself off of it and switched to Red Yeast Rice (I did not notify my doctor). I did not realize that it is a, supposedly, natural lovastatin. It actually did reduce my total cholesterol by about 100 points in just about two months. But it was not worth it. I had worse muscle problems with the Red Yeast Rice than I had with the Lipitor, but the problems came on so slowly that I did not connect the dots. I actually had a workmans comp going with my employer because I thought I had carpal tunnel. I was getting muscle testing done and going to physical therapy with no improvements. I was only getting weaker and weaker. I ran out of the Red Yeast Rice and didn’t bother to get anymore. Within two weeks I noticed my symptoms were lessening. I was also finding that I was having difficulty staying focused, especially while I was driving. My mind was all over the place. I was on that stuff for probably seven or eight months! I am fortunate not to have any permanent muscle damage. My focus is not quite back to where it should be, but it certainly is much, much better.

    My doctor wanted to put me on an “older” cholesterol lower drug that sounded like a chemistry experiment and I declined after reading about the side effects. My doctor was ticked and told me “that was why she doesn’t even tell her patients about the sided effects, because they give her grief about them, and get nervous about taking them. Yikes! Sadly, I know that she believes that she is doing them a favor by keeping them uninformed.

    I think the lesson is that your body makes cholesterol for a reason, and beating it down artificially simply isn’t a good idea.

    Reply
  37. Peter

    As a Rheumatologist, I have seen dozens of patients with statin-induced myopathy. Myopathy can mean pain or weakness of the muscles. It also runs hand in hand with ‘brain-fog’, a vague, muzzy disturbance of thought (and often mood) that is frequently reported.

    Clinical trialists often define myopathy as ‘pain or weakness + a doubling or quadrupling of the creatine kinase level’. This level is only raised in a few patients with myopathy so those who suffer only pain or weakness with no change in the creatine kinase level are not reported as ‘adverse events’.

    So they’ve defined their way into a low rate of side effects … nice.

    Reply
  38. Peter

    As a Rheumatologist, I have seen dozens of patients with statin-induced myopathy. Myopathy can mean pain or weakness of the muscles. It also runs hand in hand with ‘brain-fog’, a vague, muzzy disturbance of thought (and often mood) that is frequently reported.

    Clinical trialists often define myopathy as ‘pain or weakness + a doubling or quadrupling of the creatine kinase level’. This level is only raised in a few patients with myopathy so those who suffer only pain or weakness with no change in the creatine kinase level are not reported as ‘adverse events’.

    So they’ve defined their way into a low rate of side effects … nice.

    Reply
  39. Ellen

    Tom, unfortunately, the lecture by Dr. Langsjoen was not taped (it was a very small venue – in a tiny church of all places). I wanted to add this comment from him on Red Flags Weekly which gives you an idea of his view:

    “From Red Flags Weekly
    Article by Dr. Peter H. Langsjoen MD.

    “In my practice of 17 years in Tyler, Texas, I have seen a frightening increase in heart failure secondary to statin usage, “statin cardiomyopathy”. Over the past five years, statins have become more potent, are being prescribed in higher doses, and are being used with reckless abandon in the elderly and in
    patients with “normal” cholesterol levels. We are in the midst of a CHF epidemic in the US with a dramatic increase over the past decade. Are we
    causing this epidemic through our zealous use of statins? In large part I think the answer is yes. We are now in a position to witness the unfolding of the greatest medical tragedy of all time – never before in history has the medical
    establishment knowingly (Merck & Co., Inc. has two 1990 patents combining CoQ10 with statins to prevent CoQ10 depletion and attendant side effects) created a life threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy
    people, only to then sit back with arrogance and horrific irresponsibility and watch to see what happens – as I see two to three new statin cardiomyopathies per week in my practice, I cannot help but view my once great profession
    with a mixture of sorrow and contempt.”

    His website is here: http://www.langsjoen.com/

    Sounds like a barn-burner of a speech. I hope someone catches one of his speaking engagements and puts it on YouTube.

    Reply
  40. Ellen

    Tom, unfortunately, the lecture by Dr. Langsjoen was not taped (it was a very small venue – in a tiny church of all places). I wanted to add this comment from him on Red Flags Weekly which gives you an idea of his view:

    “From Red Flags Weekly
    Article by Dr. Peter H. Langsjoen MD.

    “In my practice of 17 years in Tyler, Texas, I have seen a frightening increase in heart failure secondary to statin usage, “statin cardiomyopathy”. Over the past five years, statins have become more potent, are being prescribed in higher doses, and are being used with reckless abandon in the elderly and in
    patients with “normal” cholesterol levels. We are in the midst of a CHF epidemic in the US with a dramatic increase over the past decade. Are we
    causing this epidemic through our zealous use of statins? In large part I think the answer is yes. We are now in a position to witness the unfolding of the greatest medical tragedy of all time – never before in history has the medical
    establishment knowingly (Merck & Co., Inc. has two 1990 patents combining CoQ10 with statins to prevent CoQ10 depletion and attendant side effects) created a life threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy
    people, only to then sit back with arrogance and horrific irresponsibility and watch to see what happens – as I see two to three new statin cardiomyopathies per week in my practice, I cannot help but view my once great profession
    with a mixture of sorrow and contempt.”

    His website is here: http://www.langsjoen.com/

    Sounds like a barn-burner of a speech. I hope someone catches one of his speaking engagements and puts it on YouTube.

    Reply
  41. PHK

    Hi, thanks.

    my dad is also a retired MD.

    i sent him some links of the insidious side effects of statins.

    guess what! he cut his dosage in half. well, duh.
    he has been brain washed. what can i say?

    Half is a good start.

    Reply
  42. PHK

    Hi, thanks.

    my dad is also a retired MD.

    i sent him some links of the insidious side effects of statins.

    guess what! he cut his dosage in half. well, duh.
    he has been brain washed. what can i say?

    Half is a good start.

    Reply

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