I continue to be horrified by guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, which speak of giving statin drugs to healthy people. Meanwhile, draft recommendations from the US Preventive Task Force have issued new directives claiming that healthy people should be taking statin drugs as a “preventative against possible future illness.” Their main plan is to see one third of all adults in the United States are put on statin drugs—44% of all men and 22% of all women—even if none of these people have ever had a previous heart attack or stroke.
Statins are the most widely prescribed drugs on the market. One in four Americans over 45 are already on statins, despite more than 900 studies reporting dangerous side effects from these drugs. These range from heightened risks of cancer and diabetes to sexual problems, neuropathy, and liver dysfunction, as well as immune system suppression, and even a higher risk of cataracts.
In Britain too, statins are the most commonly prescribed drugs, costing the NMS £450 million a year. Now 40% of adults (175 million people) are being advised to take the drug. If the new directives are put into practice by the UK medical establishment—as they are likely to be—the numbers of men and women being prescribed statins could well become legion.
What are statins anyway? Statins are a group of drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a central role in the production of cholesterol in the liver. Statins have many different names, such as Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Altocor, and Zocor. These drugs are prescribed on the assumption that they will lower the risks of cardiovascular events and strokes. The new directives assert that, if given to healthy people, they could help protect the population from heart attacks and strokes at some time in the future.
Happily, a growing number of cardiologists are strongly opposed to the new directives. What’s the problem with statins? Plenty:
- They deplete your body of CoQ10, which is essential for every cell in your body, and ubiquinol. Both CoQ10 and ubiquinol keep the so-called bad cholesterol from doing harm to your body. However, very few mainstream doctors are ever aware of these dangers. One exception is cardiologist Steven Sinatra, founder of the New England Heart Center. Sinatra recommends that anyone taking statins should take between 100 and 200 mg of CoQ10 or ubiquinol each day as protection.
- Statins lower Vitamin K2 in the body. This puts you at risk of deficiency of this vitamin, which contributes to chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, cancer, and brain disease.
- Long-term statin use—10 years or so—has been shown to increase your risk of diabetes, neurogenerative diseases, musculoskeletal problems, and even cataracts.
Dr. Eric Topol, highly respected cardiologist and Professor of Genomics at Scripps Research Institute in California, wrote an excellent article for The New York Times Opinion Page in which he warns: “We’re overdosing on cholesterol-lowering statins.” Topol is especially concerned about the sharp increase in the prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes that is occurring in people using them. He writes: “Statins have been available since the 1980s but their risk of inducing diabetes did not surface for nearly 20 years. When all the data available from multiple studies was pooled in 2010 for more than 91,000 patients randomly assigned to be treated with a statin or a sugar pill (placebo), the risk of developing diabetes with any statin was one in every 255 patients treated. But this figure is misleading since it includes weaker statins like Pravachol and Mevacor—which were introduced earlier and do not carry any clear-cut risk. It is only with the more potent statins—Zocor (now known as simvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin), and Crestor (rosuvastatin)—particularly at higher doses—that the risk of diabetes shows up. The cause and effect was unequivocal because the multiple large trials of the more potent statins had a consistent excess of diabetes.”
Meanwhile, a recent study by Jean A. McDougall and her colleagues in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reveals that long-term use of statins increases the risk of both lobular and ductal breast cancer in women between 55 and 74.
I am no doctor, but what I have learned during my more than forty years of writing and broadcasting on health is this: When a body is restored to healthy functioning naturally, the need for medication is either dramatically reduced or, more often than not, eliminated altogether. Statins, like most pharmaceuticals, only mask symptoms—they do not heal. Only nature can heal from within. My advice to anyone thinking of accepting the new directives is this: Before you agree to take statins, research the implications of doing so. Learn as much as you can about statin drugs. There are excellent natural alternatives, such as inexpensive dietary changes. So, if your doctor wants to prescribe statins for you, you can be sure you have done your homework. Then you’ll know yourself if these drugs are appropriate for you. Chances are they are not.
Here are a few recommendations for where to start your research:
- U-T San Diego “Doctors assail new guidelines for statins: 18 November, 2013
- Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; Published Online First July 5, 2013; doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0414
This is an excellent compilation of dangers from statin drugs, with links to abstracts.
Association of statin use with cataracts: a propensity score-matched analysis.
This is a good source of information on the use of statins for the elderly.
- A. Sultan and N. Hynes, "The Ugly Side of Statins. Systemic Appraisal of the Contemporary Un-Known Unknowns," Open Journal of Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases, Vol. 3 No. 3, 2013, pp. 179-185. doi: 10.4236/ojemd.2013.33025.