Statins Cause Muscle Damage

muscle acheStatins drugs, which are medications widely used to lower cholesterol, may cause structural damage to the muscles of people experiencing muscle aches and weakness.

The damage may occur even when tests for a protein thought to signal injury are normal, and may persist even after statin use is halted.

About 10 to 15 percent of people taking statins report myalgia, or minor muscle aches and weakness. A smaller number have stronger, persistent pain, called myopathy. In a study, researchers biopsied leg muscle tissue from 83 patients: 44 were taking statins and had serious and persistent muscle pain, 19 were taking statins and had no myopathy, and 20 had never taken statins or suffered myopathy.

Biopsies showed that 25 of the 44 with myopathy had muscle damage.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Muscle pain and weakness is actually the most common side effect of statin drugs, and is thought to occur because statins activate the gene atrogin-1 gene, which plays a key role in muscle atrophy.

In severe cases, a life-threatening condition called rhabdomyolysis, in which your muscle cells break down, can also develop.

However, muscle pain and weakness is often downplayed as a minor side effect of statin drugs, and one that typically goes away within a couple weeks of stopping the drugs.

In reality, as this new study points out, if you’re experiencing any muscle pain when taking statin drugs, it could be because structural damage is occurring, and this damage may occur even when tests for a protein thought to signal injury are normal.

Further, the damage may persist even after statin use is halted, meaning these drugs may cause permanent muscle damage.

Folks, this is in no way a minor side effect or nuisance. Muscle pain and weakness may be an indication that your body tissues are actually breaking down -- a condition that can cause kidney damage.

One thing is for sure. You should NOT ignore symptoms of pain and muscle weakness if you are taking statin drugs, as they can deteriorate into even more dangerous conditions, including death.

What makes this extreme risk even more unacceptable is the fact that statin drugs are almost always unnecessary.

Why You Should Avoid Taking Statin Drugs

Statin drugs used to lower cholesterol are the best-selling drugs in the United States. In 2008 alone they brought in $14.5 billion in sales!

This is outrageous because if you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, taking a drug should be your absolute last resort. And when I say last resort, I’m saying the odds are very high, greater than 100 to 1, that you don’t need drugs to lower your cholesterol.

To put it another way, among the more than 20,000 patients who have come to my clinic, only four or five of them truly needed these drugs, as they had genetic challenges that required it.

The other 19,995 of them were much better off without statins.

Statin drugs work by inhibiting an enzyme in your liver that’s needed to manufacture cholesterol. What is so concerning about this is that when you go tinkering around with the delicate workings of the human body, you risk throwing everything off kilter.

Case in point, “statin drugs inhibit not just the production of cholesterol, but a whole family of intermediary substances, many if not all of which have important biochemical functions in their own right,” say Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD.

For starters, statin drugs deplete your body of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is beneficial to heart health and muscle function. Because doctors rarely inform people of this risk, and advise them to take a CoQ10 supplement, this depletion leads to fatigue, muscle weakness, soreness and eventually heart failure.

Then there is the issue of muscle damage, which we first discussed. Researchers have now discovered that there is more than one way this condition can arise as a result of taking statins, includin

  • Depleting your body of Co-Q10, a nutrient that supports muscle function. In my view it is medical malpractice to prescribe a statin drug without recommending one take CoQ10, or better yet ubiquinol.
  • Altering the ability of skeletal muscle to repair and regenerate due to the anti-proliferative effects of statins. In one recent study, the viability of 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.
  • Activating the atrogin-1 gene, which plays a key role in muscle atrophy. The breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue can in turn also lead to kidney failure.

Other serious and potentially life threatening side effects include, but are not limited to:

The Shocking “Secret” About Cholesterol You Probably Don’t Know

Most people don’t stop to think twice about taking statins to lower their cholesterol, because the public has been largely brainwashed to believe that cholesterol is the enemy.

But cholesterol is actually your friend and is crucial for a wide variety of vital functions in your body.

It’s an integral part of your cell membranes, and it’s also the precursor (the raw material) your body uses to make your steroid hormones -- one of which is vitamin D. Your skin contains cholesterol, and when UVB rays from the sun hits your skin it converts that form of cholesterol to vitamin D3, which is then transported to your blood. Your body then further converts it into the active form of vitamin D.

Further, the major reasons your body makes cholesterol in the first place, and why you have LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol), is to take the cholesterol to the tissue so you can make new cells or repair old damaged ones -- an extremely important process.

But that’s not all. When your cholesterol levels go too low, a host of negative events occur in your body.

To get the details on why cholesterol is so important, I strongly encourage you to read the excellent article by Ron Rosedale, MD, Cholesterol is NOT the Cause of Heart Disease.

How to Safely Lower High Cholesterol

First you need to find out if your cholesterol is actually too high to begin with. Personally, I believe anything above 330 is likely too high. But another powerful way to determine if you’re at risk from abnormal cholesterol metabolism is to check your ratio of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, and your total cholesterol.

Your HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor.

Simply divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 25 percent. Typically, the higher the better, as there are no known side effects of having too high good cholesterol.

If your ratio falls below 15-20 percent you are at high risk, and below 10 percent, it’s a significant indicator of risk for heart disease.

Next, please realize that simply lowering your dietary cholesterol intake is not an effective primary strategy.


Because 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin levels, you will also regulate your cholesterol levels.

One of the most powerful ways you can do that is by exercising, and paying attention to the foods you eat. Foods that increase your insulin levels will also contribute to high cholesterol by making your liver produce more of it.

With that in mind, here are my primary recommendations for safely lowering and regulating your cholesterol levels:

  • Eat the right foods for your nutritional type, and eat a good portion of your food raw.
  • Additionally, if you are a man, or a woman who is in menopause, you should check your iron levels, as elevated levels of iron can cause major oxidative damage in the blood vessels, heart and other organs. Excess iron is also one of the major contributing factors of cancer risk.
  • Regular exercise is another important tool that can help. When you exercise you increase your circulation and the blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of fighting an illness before it has the opportunity to spread.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol excessively.

And remember this important point: if you choose to continue taking statin drugs, it is absolutely vital to supplement with coQ10. Unfortunately, many doctors fail to inform their patients of this fact.

If you’re over 40, meanwhile, I would highly recommend taking a reduced form of coenzyme Q10 called ubiquinol, because it’s far more effectively absorbed by your body.

+ Sources and References