I’ve written several posts with a variation on the title Bad News For Statins. Those have mostly pointed out the nasty side effects of statins. Doctors who push statins usually dismiss those side effects as a small price to avoid a heart attack – which they insist statins help us do.

But what if statins actually harm our hearts instead of protecting them? That’s what new research says they do. Let’s start by looking at some quotes from an article in the U.K. Express:

People taking the drugs are more likely to suffer from hardening of the arteries, a leading cause of heart problems. In addition, researchers found the drugs block a process that protects the heart. This can “cause, or worsen, heart failure”, according to a study.

Dr Okuyama, of Nagoya City University, Japan, said: “We have collected a wealth of information on cholesterol and statins from many published papers and find overwhelming evidence that these drugs accelerate hardening of the arteries and can cause, or worsen, heart failure. I cannot find any evidence to support people taking statins and patients who are on them should stop.”

But wait … haven’t there been big ol’ studies demonstrating that statins prevent heart attacks? Well, yes, there were some of those — conducted and reported many years ago by the statin-makers. The current study’s lead researcher believes that was a wee bit of a problem:

Dr Okuyama and his team say many earlier industry-sponsored studies, which show the benefits of statins, are unreliable. They claim this is because they were carried out before new European regulations were introduced in 2004 which insisted on all trial findings, both negative and positive, being declared.

The study states that before these new rules came into effect “unfair and unethical problems were associated with clinical trials reported by industry-supported scientists”.

Dr Okuyama’s team looked at studies before and after 2004.

So they compared both old and new studies, since statin-makers are no longer allowed to just bury the results they don’t like. Here’s what Dr. Okuyama’s group concluded in their analysis:

The researchers say the hypothesis that statins protect the heart by lowering cholesterol is flawed and that high cholesterol is not necessarily linked to heart disease.

They also found statins have a negative effect on vital body processes linked to heart health.

They discovered patients taking the drugs were more likely to have calcium deposits in their arteries, a phenomenon directly linked to heart attacks.

Dr Peter Langsjoen, a heart specialist based in Texas who is co-author of the study, said: “Statins are being used so aggressively and in such large numbers of people that the adverse effects are now becoming obvious. These drugs should never have been approved for use. The long-term effects are devastating.”

Meanwhile, the American Heart Association is (of course) still pushing new guidelines that would make even more people eligible for statins. Here are some quotes from a Medscape article I linked in a post about those guidelines back in 2014:

The new American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for the treatment of cholesterol would increase the number of individuals eligible for statin therapy by nearly 13 million people, an increase that is largely driven by older patients and treating individuals without cardiovascular disease, according to a new analysis.

Among older adults, those aged 60 to 75 years old, 87.4% of men would now be eligible for the lipid-lowering medication, which is up from one-third under the old Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III guidelines. For women of the same age, the percentage of those now eligible for statins would increase from 21.2% under ATP III to 53.6% with the new 2013 clinical guidelines.

So those guidelines would double the number of women over 60 taking statins and nearly triple the number of men in the same age group. Yup, just what the old folks need: more muscle and joint problems, higher blood sugar, and (if the new study is correct), accelerated hardening of their arteries. Way to go, American Heart Association.

A reader who sent me the link to the U.K. Express article commented in his email, Even after being destroyed with factual information, The Anointed reject what’s best and continue their destructive ways. Just what will make these people change their minds?

The answer is: nothing. Remember, part of what makes them The Anointed is the inability to believe they’re ever wrong. A couple of them are quoted, in fact, in the Express article:

A spokesman for the MHRA, the Government drug regulator, said: “The benefits of statins are well established and are considered to outweigh the risk of side effects in the majority of patients. Any new significant information on the efficacy of statins will be carefully reviewed and action be taken if required”.

Translation: we’ll pretend this study doesn’t exist and go on our merry, statin-pushing way.

Oxford professor Sir Rory Collins has warned that overstating concerns about statins could “cause very large numbers of unnecessary deaths from heart attacks and stroke”.

Oh, I don’t think it’s necessary for us to overstate the concerns about statins, Sir Rory. Merely pointing out the facts should convince intelligent people to stop taking these horrible drugs. Then they’ll avoid very large numbers of unnecessary cases of diabetes, liver damage, muscle damage, joint damage, and memory loss.

I dug up the abstract of the study, and for once, there was a link to a free copy of the full text online. Lots of good stuff in there, but I’ll just quote the paragraphs that wrap it all up:

Pharmacological evidence and clinical trial results support the interpretation that statins stimulate atherogenesis by suppressing vitamin K2 synthesis and thereby enhancing artery calcification. Statins cause heart failure by depleting the myocardium of CoQ10, ‘heme A’ and selenoproteins, thereby impairing mitochondrial ATP production. In summary, statins are not only ineffective in preventing CHD events but instead are capable of increasing CHD and heart failure.

Physicians who are involved in prescribing cholesterol-lowering medications cannot ignore the moral responsibility of ‘informed consent’. Patients must be informed of all statin adverse effects, including the ability to cause CHD and heart failure, onset of diabetes mellitus, carcinogenicity, teratogenicity and central and peripheral nervous disorders besides the well-known rhabdomyolysis and hepatic injury. Most of these adverse effects of statins become apparent after 6 or more years of statin therapy. Chronic administration could ultimately lead to these statin adverse effects as pharmaceutical and biochemical research has now demonstrated.

I’d suggest you give the study a look. Better yet, send it to your statin-taking friends and relatives. You might just save them a world of hurt.

86 Responses to “More VERY Bad News For Statins”
  1. Beatrix Willius says:

    The mother had some bloodwork done this week. She has elevated total cholesterol and LDL. I’m already looking forward to the discussion with the doctor about this.

  2. Frank says:

    Thankful that some medical professionals are identifying risks, both long term and short term, of statins! In 2001, I was taking 80 mg of Zocor when I developed severe bilateral leg pain. Went to emergency room and was diagnosed with rhabdomylosis as result of statin use. My CK enzymes had reached 10,000 and my AST and ALT were both over 100. I haven’t taken a statin since that time and my cholesterol is within normal limits by treating them with non-statin cholesterol drugs and watching my diet.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      We need WAY more medical professionals to be aware of the risks.

      • george Archers says:

        No! Most professionals are on the take by Drug companies. what is really needed–massive legislation against fraud and hefty fines in the billion$. All doctors have lists they go by–rarely they care the health of the patient. What matters to them–pocket book fillings. Our family has workers in the drug evaluation industry–all funded by Drug companies.–if the results are not what they want–funding gets reduced or moves onto another hospital. Real sad part is–most Americans are sheep.

  3. Chris says:

    This is scary, I know some people in their 30’s taking statins. People blindly trust doctors without thinking for themselves.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Scary as hell. If they’re swallowing that poison in their 30s, their 50s are going to suck.

    • Susan says:

      And sometimes, they just don’t want to rock the boat.
      I gave another try at convincing my sister to drop the statins this holiday season. Told her all about the paltry few days she might gain in trade for the very likely harm those poisons were doing to her. She said, “yeah, okay, but it only costs me $4/mo and it keeps my doctor happy.” How do you fight such “logic?”

  4. William Norman says:

    I’m glad you dug up this paper published last February. These important findings should have been a lead story on the network newscasts… Oh wait, the news is chock full of statin ads…

  5. Tom Welsh says:

    To the cynical, of course, such news never comes as a surprise. “What do people expect?” they ask. “That politicians and business leaders suddenly change their characters when they attain power, and become altruistic and truthful instead of dishonest and self-seeking?”

    The rest of us continue to wonder and be dismayed at the human mind’s capacity for dishonesty. Almost worse, though, is its capacity to ignore facts that seem inconvenient. Astute observers of human nature understand this very well. E.g.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.
    – Upton Sinclair

    “Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids”.
    – John Steinbeck (“East of Eden”)

    I have been collecting examples of this syndrome, and as well as statins and similar drugs there are the lipid hypothesis itself; belief in “the market”, “democracy” and “the rule of law” (none of which really exist or work as we are told they should); the current push by the UK government to persuade us that alcohol consumption is harmful at any level; the global warming controversy (from either dogmatic point of view); and political dogma about “weapons of mass destruction”, dictators who “slaughter their own people”, the Muslim terrorist “threat”, the Russian responsibility for shooting down MH17… and on and on and on.

    In every case there is the same pattern: some facts are known, and others can perhaps be gleaned with honest effort. Instead, those who have something to gain or lose flatly assert whatever is convenient for them and indulge in “proof by repetition”. Essentially, no matter how trivial the scenario, it’s the Big Lie technique.

    • JillOz says:

      An interesting list.

      Why do you put “the Muslim terrorist threat” , dictators who “slaughter their own people” (do you mean Assad here?) etc in italics?
      Why do you call the Russians shooting down MH17 ‘political dogma”?

  6. Tom Welsh says:

    Oh, I left out at least one very important example: people who seem to have an unreasoning fear of nuclear radiation and argue, deaf to all facts and figures, that it will kill us all. In all cases, I’m not saying that caution is wrong; am just suggesting that we ought to go by the facts, collect more facts if we don’t have enough, and have the intellectual integrity to admit when we just don’t know. (Which seems to be a lot of the time!)

    • Tom Naughton says:


    • Anthony says:

      Sorry, Tom, I don’t have an an unreasoning fear of anything. However you seem to endorse nuclear energy while ignoring Fukishima. The fact is this is a disaster which will continue for generations. Intellectual integrity would admit that facts and figures have little effect once the damage is done.

      • JillOz says:

        Maybe the people fearing nuclear anything don’t fear the nuclear element so much as the vast possibility of doofus error! 😉

        • Firebird says:

          What has been swept under the rug just as much is the fact that Fukushima was built by GE, which is part of Group W (Westinghouse), which includes part the NBC Television Network. Now you know, in part, why propaganda exists.

      • Sorry, Anthony, but while Fukushima was an expensive and unfortunate incident, it was not a “disaster which will continue for generations”.
        For accurate information on Fukushima, here’s a site written by somebody who knows what he’s talking about—i.e. he’s a nuclear engineer!
        The specific biggest fear of Americans: the radioactive contamination of the Pacific, is specifically addressed on this page:
        But the whole site contains a vast amount of reliable, objective information which should help set your mind at rest.

    • S says:

      My new favourite fact is that folate deficiency causes double strand DNA breaks! These people are scared of fukushima yet not eating healthy does the same thing as being irradiated.

  7. Scott says:

    I’m sooo glad that when I got into LCHF I did my research. I had the typical high cholesterol from major weight loss when I first started out which freaked my doctor out. He wrote me a prescription for statins that I never filled. About 6 months later I did a genetic test which revealed I have the gene for statin neropathy. It turns out my father and aunt (twins) both had dibilitating pain on statins.

  8. Josh says:

    There may be another reason why the ‘Anointed’ can’t or won’t change their minds, besides their own arrogance. If they admit they were wrong, might not they be open to lawsuits from people who have been following their advice for decades?

    I am not a fan of the lawsuit happy nonsense that jams our court system here in the USA, nor do I view tort lawyers with great affection, but sometimes I wonder why they sue for just about everything else but not the bad dietary and medical advice we have bene given.

    For decades I ate high transfat margarine rather than real butter because is was supposed to be better for me. I avoided eggs and ate highly processed cereals often loaded with sugar because these low-fat products were healthy for my heart. I skipped plain ordinary whole milk dairy for low-fat products loaded with sugar and artificial this and that.

    Can somebody please take responsibility for any damage that did to my body? Can some of them please at least say “I’m sorry, the advice I gave you was wrong.” Can some people admit that money was the reason my chocolate sugar bomb cereal was labeled as healthy for my heart?

    I ask to much.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I agree the lawsuit angle figures into it. In fact, an author I know cornered someone from the American Diabetes Association and gave him an earful about their bad advice. He told (off the record) that there are people in the organization who realize how bad the advice is, but they’re afraid of 1) the old guard who are still in charge and 2) lawsuits if they admit they were wrong all these years.

      • JillOz says:

        Here’s one for you Tom.

        Several years ago I spoke to an officer in one of the big Diabetic Council/association groups in Australia.

        I told her all about Wheat Belly and a few other things re diabetes.
        here’s the kicker – she told me they HAD the WB book!!

        But their CEO still assures people that sugar ingestion does not bring on diabetes.

        They deserve to be sued out of existence.

  9. Ulfric Douglas says:

    It is always a serious mistake to base any blog post on “journalism” from The Express or the Daily Mail or any of the other horrendous brainless British tabloid newspapers.
    Please stop.

  10. Joe says:

    My dad takes statins and he is constantly complaining of neck back and muscle pain. I would like him to stop and I have told him before that he should ditch them. Any good resources I can put in his hands that might help?

  11. Andy says:

    My cardiologist told me the same thing. Go on a plant based diet. More effective hell the only proven effective treatment for heart disease.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      A plant-based diet is the only effective treatment for heart disease? On what planet?

      • Josh says:

        Not the only way, but I do know a few people who replaced carby, sugary stuff with veggies and fruit. They lost weight and their overall cholesterol profile improved. Real food is marvelous stuff.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Agreed. But the key here is replacing carby-sugary stuff with real food, not necessarily with a vegetarian diet.

        • Burt says:

          Cholesterol is GOOD for you. People with higher cholesterol live longer. Don’t you get it yet? They are lying to you.

    • Joe says:

      Your cardiologist probably says that because plant based diets can lower cholesterol and he probably thinks that cholesterol level being high are the primary cause of heart disease. The latest science does not back that up. Not to mention that a good half of heart attack victims do not have high cholesterol. You may want to ask him why he believes a plant based diet is best and what research he bases that conclusion on.

  12. robert says:

    Here’s another very recent one! Free to read.

    “Beyond confusion and controversy, can we evaluate the real efficacy and safety of cholesterol-lowering with statins?”

    HTML: http://jcbmr.com/index.php/jcbmr/article/view/11/26
    PDF: http://jcbmr.com/index.php/jcbmr/article/view/11/24

    Essentially all statin trials after the change in EU law don’t really show any worthwhile “benefit” anymore.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      What a strange coincidence.

    • Josh says:

      From one of the studies “A careful examination of the most recent statin RCTs (Table 2), followed by comparing statins to each other, clearly shows that contrary to what has been claimed for decades, statins do not have a significant effect in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. ”

      I can see the tort lawyers lining up as we speak (err… type on our keyboards.)

      • Josh says:

        On 2nd thought, the participants were probably stupid people who either did not take the statins, or did other stupid thing like eat tons of junk food thinking the statins made them immune from the consequences. Or they simply did not take a high enough dosage. Increase the dosage, and toss the stupid participants under the bus. That will improve results.

        • Stephen T. says:

          Josh, plenty of intelligent and busy people take statins because they assume their doctor knows best. That’s a perfectly reasonable attitude and it’s how it should be. It just happens to be wrong. It took me a year to persuade my brother to stop taking statins. His attitude was “Surely my doctor knows best?” Only when he began to suffer memory lapses did he throw the statins away and his problems quickly disappeared.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        I’m not a fan of tort lawyers, but considering that statins were sold with very iffy evidence that was probably manipulated, I won’t mind seeing statin-makers lose some major lawsuits.

  13. Debbi says:

    I’m on a ketogenic diet and my chloresterol is over 8! I would like to know about the alternative way to bring my levels down.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Before you try to beat it down, I’d get a NMR Lipoprofile and see what kind of cholesterol your body is making.

    • Bob Niland says:

      re: on a ketogenic diet

      How are CRP, TG and HbA1c?

      On a keto diet, I’d expect TG to be under 60 mg/dl, and HbA1c to be under 5%. If they aren’t, that diet needs some attention.

      If CRP is elevated, that might suggest that dietary fats are adverse, such as insufficient DHA&EPA, and too much ALA, Omega 6 generally, and industrial seed oils in particular.

      re: and my cholesterol is over 8!

      (mmol/L I presume, and Total Cholesterol, or TC)
      How’s HDL?

      TC is a vague measure, but 8 is high. Tom’s suggestion to get an advanced lipoprotein panel is a start, but even that presumes you have a doctor willing to order it, and who knows how to read the report.

      Because hypercholesterolemia might be lurking in a case like this, getting an Apo E genetic test and lp(a) test would be useful, as would getting a CAC scan to see if there’s any actual pathology in play. It may be that no intervention is required.

      This important article by Tom does raise a material question: when people with actual lipidemias achieve statin skepticism, where do they turn for advice?

      Most people who are prescribed statins, and decline them, can get great health results by adopting any of many grain-free LCHF low-inflam diets that also attend to microbiome health. But some folks might actually need to do something more about excessive lipoproteins that don’t respond to diet.

      A survey of dissident approaches might be worthwhile.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        Also keep in mind that some people get high TC scores temporarily when they go LCHF. Don’t go too crazy over one test.

  14. Tom Curley says:

    I am trying to subscribe and cannot. I left you a donation to. Thanks Tom

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I appreciate the donation. I didn’t know the subscribe doesn’t work. That means I have to mess with WordPress, which I don’t like much.

      • Onlooker says:


        I hate to be the bearer of more bad news but when I try to subscribe via RSS Feed it takes me to different weird pages. First time was Edmonds.com, then some scammy looking page with some kind of phishy survey, and once my Bitdefender anti-virus blocked the page. Something’s not right.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Ugh. Okay, I guess I’ll have to dig into it.

          • Alex says:

            I’ve been getting the comments RSS feed for a long time. Just now, I clicked on the entries RSS link, and it loaded up in Thunderbird just fine.

            • Onlooker says:

              Yeah, I was just now able to do it (in Thunderbird also) finally by using the RSS feed link at the very bottom of the page (which I just found by luck) but the Subscribe doo-hickey (that’s a highly technical term 🙂 ) at the left of the page (with many different subscribing options) is the one that gave me strange results.

  15. Amy Dungan says:

    John’s new doctor recently prescribed statins for a whopping total cholesterol of 213. He refuses to take them. To her credit, she did say she only wanted him on them for 3 months until diet and exercise did the job. He’s making some minor changes to his diet so his HDL will be higher, but otherwise, we aren’t worried.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      213?!! Is the doctor aware that the lowest all-cause mortality is for cholesterol around 225? (Dumb question. Of course not.)

  16. jimbo says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t it true that there is no evidence “high” cholesterol causes heart disease?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      When you consider all the evidence, the connection is very weak. The people promoting that theory did a lot of cherry-picking.

    • Stephen T. says:

      Jimbo, all the countries in Europe with the highest rates of cholesterol have the lowest rates of heart disease. In a sane world, that would be enough.

  17. lemoutongris says:

    To quote an excellent report (shown on your website?) from ABCT (in Australia): taking statins to lower cholesterol is like chopping down a whole tree because of a few bad branches. Hopefully Honey (who takes statins because of “high cholesterol”) will continue his sporadic dosage of the medication.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I like Rocky Angelucci’s analogy: taking a drug to lower your cholesterol score is like moving to a zip code where the rate of heart disease is lower and thinking you’ve done something to protect your heart.

  18. Harms says:

    I really like your blogg and has followed it for quite some time. My father has had quadruple bypass and is put on statins so this hit very close to home. Would you mind me writing a translation of this post to Swedish and publish it on my blogg? It would make it a bit more accessible for him and others in Sweden who might be interested.

  19. Stephen T. says:

    Tom, Mr Douglas calls The Express brainless and says that you shouldn’t take any notice of it. He’s wrong. The Express isn’t my choice of newspaper but we can’t all read The Times and he should put his distaste of tabloids to one side and give credit where it’s due. The Express campaign has reached a wide audience and caused statin seller in chief, Sir Rory Collins, to admit that side effects have not been properly evaluated. The articles always quote Dr Malcolm Kendrick and that’s good enough for me.

    This will be more to Mr Douglas’s liking. Doctor Mark Porter is ‘The Times’ medical correspondent and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Case Notes’ and ‘Inside Health’. In his recent column, Dr Porter announced that he is changing his diet to low carb in an attempt to improve his blood markers, particularly HDL and triglycerides. He estimates his diet is 65% carbohydrates, in line with the NHS ‘Eatwell’ plate, which we unfortunately copied from U.S guidelines. He intends to reduce carbs to 25% for six weeks and then assess the results.

    Most people who eat a low-carb diet won’t regard 25% carbohydrates as particularly low, but it might well be an achievable improvement for many people, so the results will be interesting.

    Dr Porter is the doctor who stopped taking statins after noticing memory lapses that disappeared when he stopped taking them.

    In last week’s Style magazine in ‘The Sunday Times’ there’s was a detailed article on the benefits of a low carb diet by Dr Mark Hyman, President Clinton’s doctor. The article begins with this question, “What is the single best thing you can do for your health, weight and longevity?” The answer was “Eat more fat.” Dr Hyman admits that for years he advocated the low-fat diet, something he now describes as a “craze.”

    When a prominent doctor abandons statins and adopts a low-carb diet, I think there’s some hope.


  20. Jennifer Snow says:

    I’ve been reading Frederic Bastiat’s collected works this past week, and here’s an interesting tidbit:

    “The more we examine these advanced schools [of political economy], the more do we become convinced that there is but one thing at the root of them: ignorance proclaiming itself infallible, and claiming despotism in the name of this infallibility.”

  21. Brenda Scott says:

    GREAT article!

    So. What do you do if the Doctor is convinced you need to stay on them? Can one just stop taking them with no ill effects??

    Would love to hear feedback on any who have…

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I heard one doctor on Jimmy Moore’s show say it’s a waste of time to argue with a doctor. State that you don’t want to take statins. If he or she insists, take the prescription slip but don’t fill it.

      • Brenda Scott says:

        My Dad has been on them for years…..wondering if there is any side-effects to just stopping? I suspect part of his achey joints is probably due to the statins.

        Curious if anyone just stopped taking them?

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I haven’t heard of negative side-effects from quitting.

          • Chris Houghton says:

            Late to the discussion, which I found very interesting.

            My combined cholesterol is way off the charts, somewhere north of 300 and almost at 400. Always has been high. I was on 40Mg of Lipitor and then switched to 20 Mg of Livalo, per my doctor. I experienced the usual muscle pains and memory loss with both of them I quit the Livalo 3-4 months ago. No negative side-effect, nor did I have any side-effects when I stopped the Lipitor some years back.

            Doctor wants me back on them, but I said no.

  22. Nigel says:

    I am not saying that what is being reported is wrong, but you must realise that The Daily Express is the notorious for being the least accurate tabloid when it comes to health reporting. It borders on the criminal. Just so you know their reputation.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard that from several people who live across the pond. But I also linked to the abstract and the full text of the study. Readers can check those and judge for themselves.

  23. John says:

    Someone once said that, in order for a significant shift in thinking to occur within a profession, the old practitioners need to retire or die before new ideas can take hold. The strong human imperative toward self-justification makes such shifts in thinking nearly impossible. Doctors are supposed to keep up with the research, but do they really have time? How many of them rely on “oral abstracts” of research provided to them by the big pharm reps? It’s bad when very informed lay people know more about certain aspects of practice than the doctors do.

    • John says:

      Should have said, “…self-justification makes quick shifts in thinking nearly impossible.” Change obviously occurs, but it takes much longer than it needs to. In the eighteenth century, when the Germ Theory was emerging, even the most obvious and irrefutable evidence was not enough to convince some people. Many died because of the ignorance and intransigence of old-line physicians.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Or the brief version: science progresses one funeral at a time.

  24. Brian Williams says:

    “They claim this is because they were carried out before new European regulations were introduced in 2004 which insisted on all trial findings, both negative and positive, being declared.”

    A pity this did not apply to Ancel Keys.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Indeed. He ran a trial in which one group replaced animal fats with vegetable oils. That group had more heart attacks, so Keys chose not to publish the results.

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