Avoid Statins: Embrace Your Cholesterol

Avoid Statins: Embrace Your Cholesterol post image

Have you had your lipid profile lately? If so, inevitably your doctor may suggest that you need statins. Maybe your cholesterol is over 200 — by one or two. Then it is OUT OF RANGE on the blood test and flagged. This should send shivers down your spine because that gives your MD the opportunity to push some drugs on you. Nothing gets my back up more than middle aged patients with total cholesterol levels in the low 200’s who have been put on statins. I have to hold myself back when speaking with a new patient, as I can really go mental over this.

It’s just that almost EVERY middle aged patient I see is on a statin. Most of whom are UNNECESSARILY on this dangerous drug. And it IS a dangerous drug as the FDA is finally admitting.

We are not statin deficient and lowering cholesterol to absurd levels is not the answer to preventing heart disease.

New Safety Warnings on Statins for Cholesterol

Officials from the FDA announced in February of 2012 that they would require additional safety warnings to the labels on statins, including brand names Zocor (now known as simvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Crestor (rosuvastatin). These drugs work by inhibiting the enzyme that facilitates the liver’s production of cholesterol.

Statin labels must now include warnings about the rare but serious risk of liver damage, memory loss and confusion, and type 2 diabetes. Certain statins, such as simvastatin, can also raise the risk of muscle weakness – a rare but very serious disorder called Rhabdomyolysis.

The decision came following an internal meeting between the FDA’s Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology and Office of New Drugs, according to Dr. Amy Egan, the FDA’s deputy director of safety in the division of metabolism drug products.

Billion Dollar Sales in Statins for Cholesterol

With statin sales at over $20 billion a year, and more than 20 million Americans on statins, it is a hard call. These are big bucks at stake.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 3 older women — 36% of those between 64 and 74 and 39% of those 75 and over — take statins in an attempt to prevent a first heart attack or to ward off a repeat heart attack. Almost half of all men in those age brackets take a statin.

Risk of Type 2 Diabetes on Statins

Recently they admitted that being on a statin can lead to diabetes. Interesting. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease, yet heart disease is what the statin is supposed to ultimately prevent.

This study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that post menopausal women had in increased risk of developing diabetes melitis (DM) when using statins. This investigation included 153,840 women without DM. At baseline, 7.04% reported taking statin medication. There were 10,242 incident cases of self-reported DM over 1,004,466 person-years of follow-up. That is significant.

This meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in June 2011, demonstrated that statin therapy is associated with excess risk of developing diabetes mellitus. In 5 statin trials with 32,752 participants without diabetes at baseline, 2749 developed diabetes and 6684 experienced cardiovascular events. The researchers concluded that “intensive-dose statin therapy was associated with an increased risk of new-onset diabetes compared with moderate-dose statin therapy.”

Risk of Memory Loss and Confusion on Statins

Another compelling reason to avoid statins is because they again recently admitted that long term use of statins can cause memory loss. This is not surprising because in order for the nerve cells in the brain and peripheral nervous system to communicate with each other, they need cholesterol. We need cholesterol for proper brain function.

This study published in the journal, Pharmacotherapy in 2009 surveyed one hundred seventy-one patients (age range 34-86 yrs) who self-reported memory or other cognitive problems associated with statin therapy while participating in a previous statin effects study. The researchers concluded,

Findings from the survey suggest that cognitive problems associated with statin therapy have variable onset and recovery courses, a clear relation to statin potency, and significant negative impact on quality-of-life.

In this paper the researcher, Barbara Golomb, showed that the vast majority of the patients’ symptoms improved upon stopping the drug and many saw symptoms return upon resuming usage. That is significant. Patients know how they feel and what they experience. We do not need multi-center, double blind trials that cost millions of dollars when patients are reporting these problems.

Glial cells, which are part of neurons, secrete a substance that is responsible for the ability of neurons to form synapses, or connections between each other. That substance is a carrier for cholesterol which is complexed to apolipoprotein E–containing lipoproteins. This is really important.

This means that the availability of cholesterol is responsible for the ability of nerve cells to communicate with each other. This happens in the brain and in the peripheral nervous system. The implications of this is tremendous especially because so many “older” people are being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Isn’t it curious that at the same time the use of cholesterol lowering drugs has increased?

The Food and Drug Administration website now carries this warning:

FDA has been investigating reports of cognitive impairment from statin use for several years. The agency has reviewed databases that record reports of bad reactions to drugs and statin clinical trials that included assessments of cognitive function.

The reports about memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion span all statin products and all age groups… these experiences are rare but that those affected often report feeling “fuzzy” or unfocused in their thinking.

Risk of Liver Damage on Statins

In its label change, the FDA decided to stop recommending routine liver enzyme tests in statin users since the occurrence of serious problems is considered rare. However, they do recommend a liver enzyme test at the outset of therapy. Many doctors still feel more comfortable with the periodic liver tests, just to be sure nothing is happening.

This study published in the British Medical Journal in 2012 showed that statin use was associated with increased risks of moderate or serious liver dysfunction, acute renal failure, moderate or serious myopathy, and cataract. The researchers found that adverse effects were similar across statin types for each outcome except liver dysfunction where risks were highest for fluvastatin. A dose-response effect was apparent for acute renal failure and liver dysfunction. The higher the dose, the worse the effect.

The Entire Premise of Cholesterol Lowering is Baseless

It is now common knowledge that “high” cholesterol is bad. However, the standards created are not based on good science, but rather they are based on the lobbying efforts of Big Pharma and their desire to create a paradigm which forces doctors to prescribe unnecessary drugs and causes patients to worry about an imagined health problem.

Cholesterol is an Essential Part of Our Physiology

Cholesterol is an essential part of the cell membrane. It makes up part of the bi-layer phospholipid membrane that keeps nutrients in the cell and toxins out. This cell membrane has a certain fluidity to it. When it is made up of the wrong fats (from trans fats and polyunsaturated fats) the membrane may be too fluid or too stiff and lose it’s protective quality by allowing small molecules into the cell that otherwise should not be there.

The cholesterol molecule is the basic building block for all the steroid hormones in the body. It shouldn’t be surprising than, that in the U.S. infertility affects 7.3 million individuals. All the sex hormones (progesterone, estrogen, testosterone) are derived from cholesterol. Cholesterol is also the basic building block for vitamin D.

Finally, in order to digest and assimilate fats, the body makes a substance called bile. Bile acids are crucial to the breakdown and absorption of fats.  To make bile, the liver uses cholesterol. Therefore, you need cholesterol to digest fats.

What about CoQ10 when Taking Statins?

Most doctors do not inform their patients on statins that they will need to take Coenzyme Q10 because the statins inhibit the synthesis of mevalonate, the building block of both cholesterol and CoQ10.

The heart is fueled by Coenzyme Q10. This substance is also called ubiquinone as it is a powerful antioxident found in the cell membranes of virtually every cell in the body. It is also highly concentrated in the heart.

This substance is part of the body’s energy producing processes in the mitochondria, playing a critical role in ATP formation and it is also a potent antioxidant that protects against DNA damage. There are many consequences associated with depletion of CoQ10 that patients do not know about.

Ironically, CoQ10 is protective of the heart, yet depleted by statins. It just doesn’t make sense to attach this stigma to cholesterol when, in fact, it is a critical substance that our bodies make in order to work properly.

The Real Culprit

What has really happened in the last 40 years is that healthy saturated fats from pastured animals has gone the way of the dinosaurs and people are eating rancid polyunsaturated fats — many of which are heavily laced with pesticides and are genetically modified — which are drivers of inflammation and oxidation. These fats damage tissues and organs and lead to all of the modern diseases we are experiencing today.

Embrace Your Cholesterol – Avoid Statins like the Plague

As with any health issue, read more about the subject. You will really need to own it before making changes in your health care. Then, have a conversation with your medical provider about whether or not you really need to be on a statin. This is a decision between you and your medical provider.

Where to get more information about cholesterol

What so you think about the cholesterol debate? Leave a comment and let me know!

Please read my disclaimer.

This post is shared at: Frugally Sustainable, Whole Food Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Mommy Club, Healthy 2Day, Real Food Wednesday, Creative Juice Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Keep it Real Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Freaky Friday, Fill Those Jars Friday, Seasonal Celebration, Monday Mania, Hearth & Soul Hop, Real Food Wednesday

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  • Lori October 23, 2012, 8:20 pm

    I have a friend that took statins for years and can now hardly walk his legs are so bad.

  • Lyza@ Chic Shades of Green October 23, 2012, 10:34 pm

    Somehow I knew this was your post on Frugally Sustainable. I am always drawn by your headlines. Thank you for putting this information all together. A truly healthy diet should make our cholesterol. I was at a GAPS support group that just started (it’s in my radar) and the leader spoke about cholesterol and how important it is brain function. The more people that talk about this the better, so thank you for your thought-provoking posts.

  • Linda October 24, 2012, 9:21 am

    I always felt people were not meant to live their lives taking prescription medication. My dr had been wanting me to take statins and I kept resisting. Then my brother suddenly had quadruple bypass surgery that scared me so bad that I told her I would take them. I took them for 2 or 3 days and then stopped. It bothered me too much to be on these pills that I would probably take for the rest of my life. This was before I found the Westin A Price way. Now I am trying to get my mother off them. I will never convince my brother to stop.

  • briggs October 24, 2012, 10:59 am

    Two years ago, my 79 year old mother suddenly lost her ability to walk. In the space of two weeks she went from being ambulatory and somewhat self-sufficient to totally bedridden, paralyzed from the waist down. Three doctors attributed it to “advanced dementia” and sent her back home, even though she had not declined congnitively. Nine months later, when she began to refuse to eat, her doctor said that she was probably “fading away” and suggested removing some meds, beginning with the Simvastatin. TWO DAYS later, she began to eat all her meals again, and about two months later, she regained movement in her legs. Although the year in bed weakened her so that she will never walk, at least she can sit up in a chair and assist in her care. Statins can be evil.

    • Jill October 24, 2012, 12:22 pm

      Hi briggs,
      Thank you for sharing your story. Doctors live by the medications they push and never think about the potential side effects even though it is listed on the drug insert. They rarely will admit that the drug they prescribed can have a negative effect like this.

      Which is why it is so important to be your own advocate.

  • Judy@Savoring Today October 24, 2012, 11:15 am

    Great article, thanks Jill. This is exactly what we found when researching statins for my husband. He said no and has managed his heart health with exercise and diet. 🙂

    • Jill October 24, 2012, 12:22 pm

      Hi Judy,
      Yes, you guys are amazing!

  • j October 24, 2012, 12:16 pm

    I completely agree and nagged at my husband until he got off of them. His cholesterol was 230 and the doctor immediately turned to the statins. She didn’t speak with him about lifestyle changes or anything else. We eat a mostly veggie diet and he works out 5 days a week. He has a naturally higher number than others (me). This bothered him, but the ramifications of taking statins daily bothered me. He finally got off and tries to own his cholesterol, but the media and doctors scare the crap out of him.

    • Michael Cohen May 31, 2013, 10:36 am

      230 “naturally high” ?? 230 is normal about half way through this speaker talks about how nad why the cholesterol levels were set at 200 and shows the letter to the govt signed by many doctors profs and scientists saying that there was no scientific basis to havech low levels as a standard http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vr-c8GeT34

  • tereza crump October 24, 2012, 2:06 pm

    It’s ridiculous how quick doctors want to put you on prescription medication.

    My parents and my Grandmother were on statin drugs. Like you said because of a few numbers higher than 200. I wore them off until they finally got off it.

  • Ambika Choudhary Mahajan October 25, 2012, 3:36 am

    So true!!
    Almost 50% of the people I know who are in their thirties and 80% of those in forties and above are on statins- thanks to our unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles.
    The best way to keep the cholesterol level under check is to eat sensibly and exercise lightly religiously for at least 4 days a week.
    Statins have disastrous side-effects. Besides, I believe in going with the nature. Why pop up pills and poison your body with chemicals when you can treat your problem with a little effort??
    Good to see someone take the effort to inspire more people to shun unnecessary chemicals and drugs! 🙂

  • Solveig October 26, 2012, 12:09 am

    Great article. After more than 30 years of shunning eggs, bacon, whole milk, butter, just because I have genetically caused high cholesterol, I had a doctor try to push statins on me about 3 years ago and said absolutely not. Now I enjoy my bacon and eggs and butter without guilt and actually lost weight from consuming such foods.

  • Lauren October 26, 2012, 2:23 am

    Last year, my health care provider suggested I take a low dose of a statin and I refused; my cholesterol level was 220 or 230. Too many side effects for supposed benefits. My good cholesterol was low; but I had blood tests in August and it showed my good cholesterol up to 45 since I started taking Vitamin D among others. I’ve also cut way back on meat-I follow Blood Type Diet and am a Type A, Teacher Genotype. To the posters who are concerned about high cholesterol: a good many heart events are due to inflammation rather than “too much” cholesterol. C reactive protein is another important substance in the body that can cause this inflammation.
    My mother, I believe, takes statins and recently started having memory and confusion and muscle weakness; she began getting B12 and this helped; but I’m wondering if the statins could also be part of the problem. Great article; a lot of food for thought.

  • Jen October 26, 2012, 11:51 am

    This is such important information Jill. Both my parents are on statins. I am forwarding this on to them. It totally makes sense that cholesterol should be higher as we age so to combat cell damage. I do not understand the logic with the drug pushing unless it is solely to make money.

  • Helga October 26, 2012, 9:34 pm

    I have personally witnessed the effects in several family members. One is now deceased but he suffered from all of those issues, and the other, seeing the changes start that we saw with the other person, quit taking them and his cognitive abilities and leg aches went away. What scares me the most is that the second person is a diabetic, and they prescribed simvastatin to a diabetic! I will take my chances, eat clean etc. I REFUSE to take any of these.

  • Kipp October 31, 2012, 11:12 am

    I’ve been on statins since my early 40’s!! About 3 years ago, I decided to try going gluten-free due to some skin issues and also going back to butter, eggs, etc. but avoiding man-made fats. After a friend who was in the drug industry convinced me to try going OFF my cholesterol meds (she knew the testing had not been proven) and also concerned that my joints hurt worse than ever; I have been off the meds for over a year. My doc. looked at my cholesterol numbers (still in the 250 range, but the good cholesterol is high) and my weight loss associated with now going GRAIN FREE/low carb.; agreed with me and I am staying off. My blood sugar has gone way down (I was pushing Type II 3 years ago), my blood pressure has normalized (off those meds now too), and I am still losing weight. Here I am almost 62 and feeling healthier than EVER and not taking any more pills! Eat free-range meats, eggs, dairy – full fat; stay away from grains and ENJOY life again!!

  • Robin @ Thank Your Body October 31, 2012, 9:37 pm

    This is such a great article, Jill. I hope more people read it and realize just how important cholesterol is. Thank you!

  • Jeanmarie November 4, 2012, 1:22 am

    My mom (in her 80s) was on statins until this summer when she had an episode of Transient Global Amnesia, and later excruciating muscle pain. Her doctor finally said, gee, maybe it’s the statins.

    A friend at work said his wife, who has early Alzheimers, perhaps related to taking statins for years, gave all their account information and passwords to some random person who called on the phone one day, she couldn’t remember who, but fortunately remembered to tell her husband so he could cancel the credit cards, notify the bank, and they had to go to Social Security Administration to prove her identity and get her card replaced.

    Our brains need our fat and cholesterol (and fat-soluble vitamins!) to stay healthy and vital.

  • Holly May 31, 2013, 2:22 pm

    I agree with almost everything you said here until you got to “the real culprit” part. Heart disease is not a “modern” disease. I read about a study somewhere (and I’m willing to find it for you if you’d like to read it) that talked about how they’ve found heart disease in ancient Egyptians, I believe. The basic premise of that article was that heart disease is a disease of age and these things have not actually been linked to rancid meat, pesticides or gmo products. I am not promoting any of those things which may be harmful in other ways (possibly cancer), I would like you to actually research heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes more thoroughly and not make untrue statements because you have it out for gmo’s and pesticides, etc.

    • Jill May 31, 2013, 3:09 pm

      Hi Holly,
      When I say “modern” I actually mean the last 10,000 years. I know I said 40 years in the article — the last 40 years has seen an enormous increase in heart disease due to the above…

      The last 10,000 years is just when agriculture took hold and people started to eat a lot of grains. That is another post.

      My statements are true. I would like you to actually research heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes more thoroughly and not rely on one article you read.

  • Leona Smith June 27, 2013, 2:16 am

    This is such a great article. By the way just some question. What’s the best way of telling if you are at a raised risk of heart disease? Most people would probably say their cholesterol level, because too much can block your arteries. Thanks in advance.

    • Jill June 27, 2013, 10:32 am

      HI Leona,
      There are other more important tests such as C-Reactive Protein, fibrinogen, and VLDL. I would never use PRo Activ.

  • Pam October 23, 2013, 1:32 pm

    Thank you for the article. Doctors have been pushing statins on me for the last 15+ yrs. I am a healthy 39 yr old female. I run 3-4 days a week and not over weight (132 lbs). However, with that said, I have high cholesterol and always have. It’s hereditary. My total cholesterol is 340 and my LDL is 260 but my overall ratio is only 5.2 because my HDL is awesome at 65. I did have a C-Reactive Protein test done a few years ago and it was really high as well. I have resisted taking statins for so many years but also don’t want to be silly and have a heart attack because I was stubborn about this. Would I be a good candidate to start taking it? Should I just continue living as is, healthy, and not worry about my total number?

    • Jill October 23, 2013, 2:37 pm

      Hi Pam,
      I would get another C-Reactive Protein test done and Sed Rate as well. I would resist taking statins but if the CRP is high, that indicates inflammation and you need to reevaluate your diet to decrease it. Do you have other health issues?

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