SHOULD YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT STATINS?
We all know that statins are wonderful --- aren't they? They save millions of lives ---- don't they? They prevent millions of heart attacks and strokes ---- can't they? In this post, I will explore some of the myths and half-truths about statins --- some more of that EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE that we all love so much. Be warned that statins are not all they have been cracked up to be, and certainly not worthy of the pedestal they have been placed on. And despite the fact that they are arguably the single biggest money-making class of drug in the world, the foundation that has propped them up for so many years is crumbling. As Dr. Seneff said in YESTERDAY'S POST, it is only a matter of time before these drugs go the way of Thalidomide and HRT.
Although the writing is on the wall for these drugs, Big Pharma will not go down without a fight, and are pushing back harder than ever. It was not that long ago that a young man (early 20's) came to see me for back pain. In the consult and examination, I found out he was taking a statin drug. He was on the thin side, so I figured he must have one of those genetic 'Hypercholesterolemia' things going on. Nope. In fact, before his doctor (someone I know) put him on statins, his total cholesterol was a too-low 125 (anything under 150 puts you at risk for all sorts of health problems including certain kinds of CANCER, hemorrhagic strokes, and DEPRESSION). His doctor was trying to get his total cholesterol under 100. When I asked him why, he told me the two reasons given for this. His dad had had a (non-fatal) heart attack a few years earlier ---- and he had good insurance. No joke! I was dumbfounded. Although he was young, what about statin drugs and the geriatric population?
STATIN DRUGS AND THE ELDERLY
"We present the case that can be made for not treating octogenarians [people in their 80's] with statins [drugs that lower cholesterol] for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. This case is built on three points:
Who in the world would say something this outlandish? Some half-cocked idiot? Another one of those crazed hillbilly chiropractors from southern Missouri? Some psychopathically deranged hippie? Mad Magazine? Nope, nope, nope, and nope. The above quote was taken directly from the November / December 2003 issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology --- not exactly an Alfred E. Neuman publication! The study itself was done by a team of researchers at Yale University School of Medicine's Department of Internal Medicine.
To answer in one word, the question posed in the title........ YES! You should not only be worried about cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (HERE), if you are taking these drugs you should be terrified! In a 2009 paper co-authored by Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California's San Diego School of Medicine, and director of U.C. San Diego's Statin Study Group (the study was published in the prestigious medical journal American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs), her team showed why statin drugs are dangerous ---- very dangerous.
Doctor Golomb's review individually cited almost 900 peer-reviewed medical studies dealing with the wide array of health problems associated with taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. What is the number one side effect of these drugs? Something called RHABDOMYOLYSIS. Let's look at this word for a moment. Rhabdo (striped) Myo (muscle) lysis (to break down or tear apart). Thus, Rhabdomyolysis is the break down of striped (skeletal) muscle. What did Dr. Golomb have to say about statins and cholesterol? "Muscle problems are the best known of statin drug's adverse side effects, but cognitive problems and peripheral neuropathy, or pain or numbness in the extremities like fingers and toes, are also widely reported."
Mitochondria are the part of the cell that create energy in the form of ATP (HERE). However, this process of making energy also creates something else. Free Radicals. Oxygen Free Radicals are harmful compounds that are a known cause of cancer. This is why we consume "antioxidants" in the form of foods (colorful vegetables, fruits, and berries). These antioxidants protect us against this process we call "Oxidation". When mitochondrial function is diminished for any reason, the body produces less energy and more "Free Radicals". This is a double whammy that not only causes various disease processes, it leaves you with a diminished ability to fight against them because your body is not making enough energy to do so.
Coenzyme Q10 ("Co-Q10") is a compound central to the energy-making process that occurs within mitochondria. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant whose other job is to "quench" the internal fire known as free radical oxidative damage. The problem with statin drugs, however, is that they lower Q10 levels. They do this because they are designed to block the metabolic pathway involved in cholesterol production ---- the very same pathway which produces the body's supply of Co-Q10. How big is the loss of anti-oxidative power in the body? Just listen to the words of Dr. Golomb.
"The loss of Q10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage mitochondrial DNA." Because statins cause progressively more mitochondrial damage over time ---- and as these energy powerhouses tend to weaken with age ---- new and more severe adverse effects tend to develop the longer a patient takes statin drugs. Golomb goes on to say, "The risk of adverse effects goes up as age goes up, and this helps explain why. This also helps explain why statins' benefits have not been found to exceed their risks in those over 70 or 75 years old, even those with heart disease." Furthermore, both high blood pressure and diabetes are linked to higher rates of mitochondrial dysfunction. This is why say the study's co-authors, these conditions are consistent with a higher risk of statin side effects.
Golomb goes on to explain in a recent interview, "From the reports that come into us, people are experiencing severe muscle weakness, which is also linked to cognitive problems. We're really interested in the balance of risks and benefits of these drugs. There are lots and lots of people looking at the benefit side. There are so few people evaluating the [risk] side. You can bet that the $20 billion a year in statin drug company revenue is going to make sure that any promising lead looking at potential benefits will be followed." You know what? She is right. I will get to this topic soon enough, but suffice it to say that there a whole host of doctors screaming the same things at the top of their lungs. Unfortunately, they are being drowned out by Big Pharma's never ending 'noise' about the need for every American to be on Statins. Think I'm kidding?
Not very long ago, "Sir" Rory Collins, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Clinical Trial Service Unit of Oxford University stated, "Give statins to all over-50s: Even the healthy should take the heart drug". Sir Rory happens to be the lead researcher on one of one of the biggest cholesterol studies in history. His study's conclusions are that lowering LDL cholesterol with statins is safe, effective, and saves large numbers of lives. And where did the money for his research come from? Three places:
I know you'll all be shocked to hear this, but Sir Rory just happens to be the Principal Investor and Chief Executive of Biobank. How much money are we talking about here? Try £62 million on for size! That's 100 million dollars for those of you keeping score at home. This does not even begin to take into account the fact that Sir Rory has received money from numerous Pharmaceutical Corporations. Is this a conflict of interest? Let's ask the companies involved. Some of the bigger companies you have no doubt heard of before.
DO STATINS LOWER CANCER RATES?
In recent years the news has headlined numerous stories saying things like, "Cholesterol Drugs May Lower Cancer Risk" But is this really true? I have always been under the impression that statin drugs increase the risk of cancer, not lower it. So, where is this information coming from, and who can we trust to give us the straight dope on this issue? It seems that a study done several years ago in Israel looked at the medical records of over 200,000 people and came to the conclusion that statin drugs decrease cancer rates.
The study, published in the medical journal Preventing Chronic Disease, said that patients who regularly took statin drugs for the longest time had the lowest rates of cancer over the 7 years of the study. Their conclusions? The authors stated that their study, "demonstrated that persistent use of statins is associated with a lower overall cancer risk..... the association between statins and cancer incidence may be relevant for cancer prevention." Bear in mind that this and other statin studies have been dissected to show that their lower cancer rates claim is at best, grossly exaggerated; and at worst, completely false.
In a recent study of the effects of statins on the elderly, nearly six thousand people aged 70-82 were given either a statin or placebo over a three year period. Cancer rates were one quarter greater in the statin group. Another study (a meta-analysis) looked at the results of several different studies, finding that the combination of statin drugs and the cholesterol-lowering drug Ezetimibe (Vytorin), was associated with a forty five percent increased risk of dying of cancer. Read that last sentence a couple more times and let it sink in!
FDA CALLS FOR STILL LOWER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently ruled that labels for statin drugs must include warnings about some of the side effects associated with statins (memory loss, confusion, Type II Diabetes, and myopathy / rhabdomyolysis / muscle & tendon problems), they keep lowering the levels of what is considered to be a "normal" cholesterol level. For the past three decades, Big Pharma will parade their "homegrown" research by the FDA, showing them that cholesterol is the Great Satan --- the leading cause of our country's number one killer; heart disease. The goal is always the same. They want the FDA to step in yet again and change (lower) what constitutes a healthy cholesterol number. This has been done over and over again, and means that more and more people will be told they have high cholesterol, and subsequently need to be on statin drugs. I realize that statins dramatically lower cholesterol. However, there are a whole host of Physicians, Researchers, and Scientists telling us that we are being bamboozled by the drug companies. What's going on here?
Dr. John Briffa, contributing editor on THE CHOLESTEROL TRUTH, has been exposing countless flawed statin trials on their blog, revealing one of the biggest medical cons of our time in the process. On their site, he also explains why cholesterol is not the villain it is made out to be and how the mainstream has got hold of the wrong end of the stick when it comes to heart disease prevention. What are the most common Statin Drugs in America? Here's a short list
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).