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Statins - Do The Benefits Outweigh The Side Effects?

Date: 6th September 2012 | Created by: Troo Healthcare | Tags: statins, coq10, cancer, dementia, heart disease, cholesterol
Any readers of the daily telegraph may have come across their article on statins last week which referenced an Oxford University study suggesting that anyone over the age of 50 should be on statins - even if they are healthy. Whilst there do seem to be significant benefits for anyone with genetically high cholesterol levels (familial hypercholesterolemia) in taking statins, for the rest of us there are other factors and potential side effects to consider before embarking on a pre-emptive medication campaign.

If you are a daily telegraph reader, are over the age of 50, are perfectly healthy and are now considering a visit to the doctor for your statins prescription, then I would implore you to think twice. There are currently over 900 other studies which suggest that the Oxford professor spouting this nonsense is barking up the wrong tree. Not only that, this advice is potentially dangerous to most of us who do not need statins.

Statins have been touted as a miracle drug, targetting LDL cholesterol (the 'bad' type) to help protect against heart disease. Whilst they no doubt have their place in modern medicine, more and more recent evidence indicates that you statins aren't an automatic answer for everyone.

Doctors surgeries and the press across the land have been given glowing literature to demonstrate just how good statins are, starting a propaganda machine pushing statins onto a pedestal of shining light. The only problem is the source of much of this 'literature' is a pharmaceutical industry that is currently making billions on the sale of statins to over 7 million UK citizens alone. As with many medicines and vaccines, all is not necessarily as it may seem.

More recent studies (not funded or influenced by the pharmaceutical industry) have shown statins in a more balanced light, highlighting a variety of potential side effects and painting a slightly different picture to that portrayed in the 'brochure'. Here is a small selection of such studies to provide an idea of the potential pitfalls of medicating perfectly healthy people with statins:

1. Statins Accelerate Cardiovascular Problems For People With Diabetes

Statins harden the main arteries and they speed up the main health problems in diabetics, according to researchers from the Phoenix Veterans Affairs’ Healthcare System.  In summary, the drugs help cause heart disease and death for those with diabetes. You can see study referenced here and the full text source at Diabetes Care (you will need to create a login to read).

2. Statins Significantly Lower CoQ10 Levels

Studies have demonstrated a link between a deficiency of CoQ10 and onset of heart failure (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 1985; 82:Co Q10 901-4), as well as impaired heart function (Biofactors, 1999; 9: 291-9).

Out of 15 published studies, nine have affirmed that using statins significantly lowers CoQ10 levels (Arzneim Forsch, 1999; 49: 324-9).

3. LDL Cholesterol Provides Protection Against Cholesterol

The cholesterol targeted by statins, LDL cholesterol, has been found in new research to actually provide protection against cancer - see this report. This adds to other benefits previously found in earlier studies, including slowing down of brain problems such as dementia and memory loss. In short, the body need cholesterol.

4. Statins Can Cause Long Lasting Muscle Damage

Studies released by the University of Bern in Switzerland discovered that people who had used statins suffered ‘significant’ muscle injury that was still detectable years after they stopped taking the drug. This was referenced in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2009; 181: 1-2

5. Up To 65% Of Users Suffer Side Effects

Contrary to claims that side-effects affect only a very small percentage of users, evidence suggests that as many as 65 per cent of those taking statins experience adverse side-effects (Am J Cardiol, 2003; 92: 670-6).

What Does This Mean?

An endless list of other studies about statins could be referenced here but that is not the purpose of the article. Nor is it intended to scare anyone who is using or has used statins. Statins are a perfectly acceptable option for people with genetically high cholesterol who are naturally more susceptible to heart problems.

What we are trying to do is demonstrate that it would be madness for a perfectly healthy person to take statins as a preventative measure. Even if your doctor advises it don't take it at face value. It is not necessarily the fact that your doctor would be dispensing bad advice - it would be just that they may be giving you advice based on the 'brochure' of the pharmaceutical company in good faith that the information is correct. It's your health and you owe it to yourself to find out exactly what any medication will do for and to you before using it.

The point is, as with most medicines on the market, often the information that you hear is the information that the pharmaceutical company wants you to hear. Never under-estimate the amount of money that these drugs are worth and the influence that can have right through the infrastructure of communication - including through government, the media and the health authorities. Statins are helpful to some people but should anyone over 50 be using them? I highly doubt it!

Comments


colleen
I was on statins for three months because my cholesterol was 6.0 now my cholesterol is 3.1 but i have found that i now have pins and needles in both hands and my thumb has no feeling it has damaged the nerves in my hand
February 26, 2014

Thanks for information on statins I had a feeing it was all about money and remembered the old saying if its not broken do not fix it
June 04, 2013

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