In this article I want to talk about statin therapy in people who do not have heart disease. I am not a doctor and so I am not discussing here statins for people who have heart disease or who have already had a heart attack. I am talking about people like my Dad, who was prescribed statins purely based on his cholesterol numbers, despite him being a healthy weight, a non-smoker, having a job that means he is active every day, and no existing heart disease.
First of all, here are three interesting things for you to think about:
1. People with high cholesterol tend to live longer
2. People with heart disease tend to have low levels of cholesterol
3. Cholesterol-lowering of a population does not reduce the rate of heart disease
I will write about cholesterol in another article, so for now, on to statins.
This article in the British Medical Journal discusses the recommendations made in the 2011 and 2013 Cochrane review with regards to statins and states:
“Only limited evidence showed that primary prevention with statins may be cost effective and improve patient quality of life. Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk.”
What low risk patients need to know
*Lifestyle factors—including lack of exercise, tobacco use, and unhealthy diet—account for 80% of cardiovascular disease.
*For people at low risk of cardiovascular disease (less than 10% risk over next five years), statins do not reduce the overall risk of death or serious illness.
*In order to prevent one heart attack or stroke, 140 low risk people (less than 10% five year risk) must receive statins for five years.
*The side effects of statins including muscle symptoms, increased risk of diabetes (especially in women), liver inflammation, cataracts, decreased energy, sexual dysfunction, and exertional fatigue—occur in about 20% of people treated with statins.
I believe that the above paper has been criticized because some people feel that the side effects have been overstated. However, if you understand how statins work then you would understand better where the side effects stem from and why this is a genuine concern, even if the figures in this paper are overstated.
Statins – How do they work?
Cholesterol is a remarkable substance, without which all of us would die.
*It is the precursor to vitamin D3.
*It is the precursor to the sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), and the steroid hormones (such as cortisol).
*It is essential to the cell membranes of all of our cells, where it protects the cell not only from ion leaks but also from oxidation damage to membrane fats.
*While the brain contains only 2% of the body’s weight, it houses 25% of the body’s cholesterol. Cholesterol is vital to the brain for nerve signal transport.
Statins stop the body producing cholesterol, cholesterol that the body needs – they literally stop one of our fundamental body processes from being able to function.
Statins work by suppressing an enzyme in the liver (HMG Coenzyme-A Reductase), which is involved in cholesterol production. As well as producing vitally important cholesterol, this enzyme is needed for several fundamental biological processes, including production of another of the most essential nutrients that the body needs, Coenzyme Q10, an incredibly important nutrient especially for cell energy and heart health. CoQ10 is present in the greatest concentration in the heart. It plays an important role in mitochondrial energy production and acts as a potent antioxidant. Statins do not block this enzyme completely; as if they did then any one taking them would die! However, they block it enough to cause adverse effects in the body.
As well as producing cholesterol and CoQ10, which are vital to the body, HMG Coenzyme-A Reductase enzyme is needed for:
*Producing selenoproteins that are the backbone antioxidant system of defense for every cell in the human body.
*Required for healthy immune function.
*Primary activator of thyroid hormone.
*Linked to the production of vitamin D, adrenal hormones, and sex hormones.
It also makes many gene-signaling molecules in the isoprenoid family that are required for healthy cell function and the prevention of cellular mutation (cancer).
All of these processes are indiscriminately interfered with by statins, which is potentially devastating to human health.
*Statin use is associated with copper, zinc, vitamin E and selenium depletion.
*Statins have been linked to intense and debilitating muscle pain, kidney failure, liver dysfunction, and cataracts.
*Some people have reported severe memory loss (cholesterol is very important for brain function).
*Statins are also associated with an increased risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes.
Forcefully lowering cholesterol can also cause major hormonal imbalances (cholesterol is a precursor to ALL sex hormones), which then causes a long list of health problems.
Furthermore, one main reason cells make cholesterol is to repair themselves. This is especially important for nerve cells, which do not split and divide like other cells in the body and therefore must repair themselves in order to survive. The receptors on nerve cells enable them to receive neurotransmitters, thereby enabling a person to have cognitive function and memory. These nerve cell receptors require cholesterol as part of their proper three-dimensional structure. Statins interfere with this process as an undesirable side effect, inducing slow and progressive memory loss the longer they are used.
According to Stephanie Seneff in this interesting article on the way statins work:
“The broad spectrum of severe disabilities with increased prevalence in statin side effect reviews all point toward a general trend of increased frailty and mental decline with long-term statin therapy, things that are usually associated with old age. I would in fact best characterize statin therapy as a mechanism to allow you to grow old faster.”
Nutrition and lifestyle changes are ALWAYS better than statins for primary prevention of heart disease. Statins do NOT EVER address root causes, they mislead a person into thinking they are OK because of a “better” number on their cholesterol test, but in reality the underlying cause is never addressed.
If you are interested in the politics behind statins and the prescription of them to millions of healthy individuals in the UK, then read this letter sent to NICE earlier this year by a distinguished group of medical doctors entitled “Concerns about the latest NICE draft guidance on statins”
*Zoe Harcombe has lots of very good information on her site
*Statin Nation exposes the $29billion cholesterol-lowering industry and explains how more than 40 million people have ended up taking a medication that is almost certainly causing them more harm than good. http://www.statinnation.net
*Dr Briffa discusses the possibility that statins could cause heart failure: http://www.drbriffa.com/2014/06/27/more-evidence-points-to-statins-as-a-potential-cause-of-heart-failure/
*This series of videos with Dr Mercola and Stephanie Seneff on YouTube covers a lot of ground on cholesterol and it’s importance, and the potential dangers of statins: