The results of a new study show that statins at higher doses may also affect the ability of the skeletal muscles -- which allow your body to move -- to repair and regenerate themselves.
The study examined the proliferative capacity of human satellite cells when exposed to the statin simvastatin. They found that higher end concentrations of the drug led to reduced proliferation, which would likely negatively affect the muscle's ability to heal and repair itself.
Statins -- a class of drugs used to lower your cholesterol -- are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the world. I’ve long maintained that statins are one of the most unnecessary drugs there is, and I’m not about to change my mind anytime soon. The list of studies documenting their dangers to your health just keeps getting longer.
With at least 12 million Americans taking statins, and experts' recommendations that another 23 million “should” be taking them, it's important to educate yourself on this issue.
Now, there are a very small group of people with genetic enzyme defects that end up having cholesterol levels above 325-350. These are about the only individuals in my experience, who seem to benefit from statins. In my clinical experience, which spans over more than two decades and thousands of patients, there have been a grand total of three patients that required statins to control this genetic problem.
For the remainder of you, taking a statin drug to control your cholesterol levels will likely do far more harm than good.
The Dangerous Side Effects of Statin Drugs
Statins have been known to cause muscle pain and weakness, but no one knew exactly why. More recent studies, however, have shed light on this mystery – including the latest study above. These findings add valuable talking-points to your arsenal when discussing your need for a statin drug with your doctor.
As Dr. Thalacker-Mercer, a member of the research team, stated:
"While these are preliminary data and more research is necessary, the results indicate serious adverse effects of statins that may alter the ability of skeletal muscle to repair and regenerate due to the anti-proliferative effects of statins."
“It is possible that older adults may not be able to distinguish between muscle pain related to a statin effect or an effect of aging and therefore adverse effects of statins in older adults may be under-reported.”
In this study, the viability of the proliferating cells was reduced by 50 percent at a dose equivalent to 40 milligrams of Simvastatin – the dose per day used in some patients. This could clearly have a negative effect on your skeletal muscles’ ability to heal and repair themselves, and could lead to eventually becoming more or less incapacitated.
Additionally, a study published last year in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that statin drugs can activate the atrogin-1 gene, which plays a key role in muscle atrophy.
Three separate tests showed that even at low concentrations, statin drugs led to atrogin-1 induced muscle damage. As the drug dose increased, the damage increased as well.
One thing is for sure. You should NOT ignore symptoms of pain and muscle weakness, as they can deteriorate into even more dangerous conditions, including death.
For example, Bayer's statin, Baycol, was pulled from the market in 2001 after 31 people died from rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle tissue breaks down resulting in kidney failure.
Adding insult to injury, Vytorin, a drug that combines two cholesterol drugs -- Zetia and Zocor – into one pill, has been found to cause the opposite effect of that desired: plaques grew nearly TWICE AS FAST in patients taking the Zetia-Zocor combination compared to those taking Zocor alone.
Experts called the results “shocking.”
Other serious and potentially life threatening side effects include, but are not limited to:
- An increase in cancer risk
- Immune system suppression
- Potential increase in liver enzymes, so patients must be monitored for normal liver function
What You Must Know About Cholesterol
Statin drugs work by preventing the formation of cholesterol, and reducing LDL cholesterol, which is considered the "bad" cholesterol. There is no argument that these drugs are effective at lowering your cholesterol levels. However, they in no way, shape or form, treat the cause of your problem.
In order to understand why you don’t need them to manage your cholesterol levels, you first need to understand that there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol.
Both HDL and LDL cholesterol perform vital functions in your body, which is why it’s actually dangerous to bring your LDL levels down too low.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein) are actually proteins that transport the cholesterol to and from your tissues. Cholesterol in turn is a precursor to steroid hormones. (For example, you can’t make testosterone or estrogen, cortisol, DHEA or pregnenolone, or a multitude of other steroid hormones that are necessary for health, without cholesterol.)
Even more importantly, you can’t make new cell membranes without cholesterol.
So, the major reasons your body makes cholesterol in the first place, and why you have LDL, is to take the cholesterol to the tissue so you can make new cells or repair old damaged ones.
The Relevant Facts About “Bad” Cholesterol Your Doctor May Not Have Told You
The reason why LDL could be considered “bad” at all is because there are different sizes of LDL particles, and it’s the LDL particle size that is relevant. Small particles can easily get stuck and cause inflammation, which leads to damage and the buildup of scar tissue, also known as arterial plaque.
Unfortunately, most people don’t hear about that part.
And, naturally, the drug companies don’t want you to know that part of the science because it would severely limit the number of people going on cholesterol-lowering drugs, since statins do not modulate the size of the particles.
The only way to make sure your LDL particles are large enough to not get stuck and cause inflammation and damage is through diet. In fact, it’s one of the major things that insulin does.
If you eat properly -- which is really the only known good way to regulate LDL particle size -- then it does the right thing; it takes the cholesterol to your tissues, the HDL takes it back to your liver, and nothing gets stuck causing damage.
Simply Reducing Your Insulin Levels Can Achieve Statin Drug Effect
Another noteworthy point: Statins work by reducing the enzyme that tells your liver to produce cholesterol when it is stimulated by increased insulin levels. But you can achieve the same, or better, result by simply reducing your insulin levels.
Simple! Reducing or eliminating sugar and most grains will effectively lower your insulin levels naturally.
You also need to be aware that statins are non-specific inhibitors of not just one, but a number of very important liver enzymes. For example, not only do they block HMG coenzyme A reductase (a key enzyme in cholesterol synthesis), they also block Coenzyme Q10.
CoQ10 is a vital enzyme that your body needs for energy and cardiovascular health. It is widely recommended to repair heart damage, boost the function of the heart and acts as a protectant against heart attacks and valve damage. Additionally, CoQ10 has been shown to be beneficial in heart and lung cancer, as well as maintain cognitive function.
Thus, when you take statins your production of this enzyme is dramatically depleted and you do not reap the health benefits associated with it.
How to Normalize Your Cholesterol Without the Use of Drugs
Just about every person, other than the tiny minority with the genetic enzyme defects I mentioned in the beginning, can normalize their cholesterol levels with my Take Control of Your Health Program, which includes modifying your eating habits based on your body's unique nutritional type.
If you truly want to normalize your cholesterol levels, following these simple lifestyle changes can get you there:
- Normalize your insulin levels by eliminating sugar and grains.
- Take a high-quality krill oil or fish oil, which are chock full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
- If you are a man, or a woman who is in menopause, check your iron levels as elevated levels of iron can cause major oxidative damage in your blood vessels, heart and other organs. Excess iron is also one of the major contributing factors of cancer risk.
- Exercise regularly.
- Energy Psychology methods such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can also be helpful for cholesterol reduction. Read this press release for the possibilities: Doctors Use New Acupressure Technique to Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels: Medications Unnecessary.