Statin medications are widely prescribed to “lower cholesterol.” In fact, In 2012-2013 there were some 221 million statin U.S. drug prescriptions1 written, at a whopping cost of $16.9 Billion—the most money spent of all prescription drug categories! If you were among those prescribed a statin drug, I’ll bet you weren’t told what harm they can cause you. Unfortunately, few doctors even know or take the time to learn this. I suggest you learn this and tell your doctor this about statins.
Why statins (Lipitor, Mevacor, Crestor, Zocor, etc.) are so widely prescribed
The cholesterol-lowering drugs atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), rosuvastatin (Crestor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and pitavastatin (Livalo) are known to lower your total- and LDL-Cholesterol levels, which may not necessarily be a health thing to do, as I will explain below. Statins however do seem to have an “anti-inflammatory” effect on coronary artery endothelium (inside lining) and this is good. Yet this is all that pharmaceutical companies want doctors to remember about these drugs so that they will liberally prescribe them.
In fact, doctors feel secure in prescribing any medicine that has been shown by randomized placebo-controlled clinical studies to be “effective” even if marginally so. The statin drug manufacturers know this and successfully established their studies showing benefits of statins to lower LDL-cholesterol and reducing cardiovascular disease risk.
Yet you should know that a large landmark study in 2009 revealed that nearly 75% of patients who become hospitalized for a heart attack actually have serum LDL cholesterol within the recommended target level for LDL cholesterol!2
Can you see that cholesterol being elevated is just one small piece of the larger puzzle of cardiovascular risk? The other major risk factors are smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, close family history (father, brother) of heart disease, obesity, uncontrolled stress, and inflammatory diet.
Now you have to ask yourself, what if all most or all these studies on statins were funded by the manufacturers of statins? Wouldn’t that be a conflict of interest and make you be a bit suspicious?
Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and director of UC San Diego’s Statin Study group3 has looked deeply into these studies. In fact, she tells us that essentially all the studies in favor of statins were indeed funded by these statin manufacturers!
Dr. Golomb has reportedly cited nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of statins in various published articles. Clearly, all medications have some side effect to be aware of. It’s just that these are the number one selling drug (by dollar volume) in the USA and the many side effects are not hardly mentioned by doctors who prescribe them. You do have other options than to take a statin to lower your risk of heart disease, which is the focus of my next article coming.
In her paper 2008 article published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs4 Dr. Golomb gives scientific evidence statins damage mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are our energy-producing cells, which control harmful molecules called oxygen free radicals. For example, statins lower the anti-oxidant Coenzyme Q10 (“Q10”) in your body through the same pathway that they lower blood cholesterol.
Because aging and greater chronic illnesses correlate with fewer and weaker mitochondria, statin use increases the likelihood that chronic illnesses will worsen the longer a patient takes a statin. The manufacturers even admit and studies show that statins’ benefits do not exceed their risk in patients over age 75 years, even in those with known heart disease.
Apparently, depending on genetics and age, statins can protect against problems such as muscle and kidney function or heart arrhythmia in some people where it worsens these conditions in others.
Through their damaging effect on our mitochondria, statins contribute to the following adverse effects:
• Cognitive problems, behavioral and emotional disorders, chronic nerve and muscle damage and even neuromuscular degeneration (much like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a.k.a. ALS) are reported from taking statins. Some have reported memory loss or confusion after taking statins.
• Peripheral neuropathy (pain or numbness in the extremities): Thousands of statin users have reported peripheral neuropathies, and there is a tendency toward resistance to all traditional medical treatment for this.
• Blood glucose elevations or type 2 diabetes. Your blood sugar may increase when you take a statin. This can lead to type 2 diabetes, and is more profound if your blood sugar is already elevated. If you have no other choices than to take a statin drug (there are several I will soon point out), the benefit of taking a statin “may potentially outweigh the risk.”
• Muscle problems: rarely (1 in 20 users) high-dose statin use causes muscle cells to break down (rhabdomyolysis), release myoglobin protein into the bloodstream, severe muscle pain and kidney damage.
• Liver damage
• Pancreatic dysfunction
• Sexual dysfunction
• Tendon problems
• Blood pressure elevations
According to Duane Graveline, M.D., author of four books on the subject, …”many of the statin side effects are permanent and weakness and fatigue are common complaints. Many statin victims say that abruptly, almost in the blink of an eye, they have become old people. By the time we become aware of it, it is already far too late and the damage has been done to those susceptible.” 5
I’d be willing to bet that if you were among those given a statin prescription, you weren’t told other safer (and better) alternatives to a statin drug. There are alternatives, and I’ll share these with you in my next blog article.
To long term health and feeling good,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Chief Science Officer, Cloud9Life
2 Sachdeva A, Cannon CP, Deedwania PC, Labresh KA, Smith SC Jr, Dai D, Hernandez A, Fonarow GC. Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: an analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in Get With The Guidelines. Am Heart J. 2009 Jan;157(1):111-117.e2. Online at:
4 Golomb BA, Evans MA. Statin adverse effects: a review of the literature and evidence for a mitochondrial mechanism. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2008;8(6):373-418. Review. PubMed PMID: 19159124. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19159124
5 Duane Graveline, MD, MPH, The Dark Side of Statins, Spacedoc Media LLC, 2010