The Dangerous Side Effects of Statin Drugs for Cholesterol “problem”
If you are a typical American adult, your total cholesterol is somewhere around 200. Whereas this number used to be considered normal for total cholesterol, it is now considered borderline for cholesterol-lowering drugs in the “statin” category. Just a few years ago, the upper limit for normal cholesterol was 220, with anything below considered to be normal. Now the upper limit is only 200, which has taken untold millions of healthy Americans into a “disease” category. Isn’t it handy that the drug companies happen to have the cure for that “disease” in the form of the best-selling class of drugs,namely statins, and the best-selling drug of all time, namely Lipitor?
Surely the $26 billion dollar statin market must be a coincidence. Nobody would want to make all that money just by telling people that they are now sick. Would they?
Americans spent $307 Billion on drugs in 2010
- Lipitor – $7.2 Billion
- Nexium (antacid) – $6.3 Billion
- Plavix (blood thinner) – $6.1 Billion
- Advair (asthma) – $4.7 Billion
- Abilify (depression) – $4.6 Billion
- Seroquel (antipsychotic) – $4.4 Billion
- Singulair (oral asthma) – $4.1 Billion
- Crestor (statin) – $3.8 Billion
- Actos (diabetes) – $3.5 Billion
- Epogen (injectable anemia) – $3.3 Billion
The Dangerous Side Effects of Statins
Some of the worst problems actually happen if cholesterol falls too low: stroke, aggressive behavior, depression and suicide are risks for anyone with total cholesterol below 180. For women, low cholesterol has been a proven risk for heart disease. In fact, a study in France determined that elderly women with very high cholesterol live the longest, and that the death rate was 5 times higher for women who had low cholesterol than high cholesterol. [1,2]
The means to obtain low cholesterol is also dangerous. That is, statin drugs have their own associated risks. When a 1991 study of lovastatin found that there were so many more deaths in the patients receiving this drug that the statistics began to show borderline significance, the study was abruptly stopped early and never resumed. 
In most animal studies, cancer, particularly breast cancer, was seen more often in those on the cholesterol-lowering drugs.  Statin drugs deplete Co-enzyme Q10, which is an enzyme in our bodies that is vital for muscle function. This enzyme, also called Co-Q10 is necessary to keep our liver enzymes stable and to keep every muscle, including the heart, which is mostly muscle, in a healthy state. For this reason, statin drugs are dangerous for the heart. Even more essential, Co-Q10 is necessary to transfer energy from the food we eat to our cells. Cholesterol too is essential for life. In fact, every membrane of every cell depends on cholesterol for its fluidity and function. No life on earth can exist without cholesterol.
In a study of 3700 people, low cholesterol was also associated with hemorrhagic-type stroke. Patients with cholesterol below 180 were found to have twice the risk of that type of stroke as people with cholesterol above 230.  However, the same study found that people with cholesterol above 280 had twice the risk of the other kind of stroke, ischemic stroke, as someone with total cholesterol of 230.
On the other hand, there are risks associated with cholesterol being high. A cholesterol of 240 is generally associated with heart disease in men, however, not in women and not in those over the age of 70. Brian Vonk, MD is a doctor who likes seeing total cholesterol over 300 in his patients over 70 years old. He also likes to see your HDL cholesterol (known as the “good” cholesterol) be at least 29% to 30% of your total cholesterol. 
The bottom line is cholesterol is not the major villain in heart disease or any other kind of disease. If cholesterol becomes oxidized, it can irritate or inflame the tissues such as the blood vessel lining in which it is sequestered. This is why antioxidants, Vitamins C and E for example, are so necessary and beneficial for the cardiovascular system.
What is Cholesterol?
Most people think cholesterol is this evil enemy. and we have to do everything to keep it down. In fact, Cholesterol is the precursor to all natural steroid hormones and the constituent of all 75 trillion cells in our body. It plays a role in all the sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, progesterone), it’s the precursor to vitamin D and CoQ10. It is also the precursor for cortisol your body’s stress hormone. Wait, so does that mean, if im stressed and cortisol is elevated, that cholesterol could be high because of stress? YUP!
LDL isn’t the devil as portrayed, it brings vitamins ADEK (fat soluble) to the cell membranes where they are needed! So if LDL is really low, that tells me that they aren’t processing steroid hormones effectively, which means they can have low testosterone or progesterone.
The cell wall is made out of a Lipid Bilayer – primarily fatty acids make it up, it also has protein receptors in there such as insulin receptors. Insulin receptors help with blood sugar signalling. If insulin receptors are damaged due to poor diet and processed sugars you have bad blood sugar signaling and elevated blood sugar and then you’re prediabetic and diabetic
If we have poor serotonin receptors we end up with mood disorders, personality disorders, depression, chronic pain, bipolar syndrome.
It is very important that these protein receptors are NOT inflamed. One key aspect of that is having the right fats. We want those fluid based fats like omega-3s (many double bonds), because they allow those protein receptors take on their optimal shape which is really important for proper protein receptor function and very important for keeping those receptors DE-inflamed.
Cholesterol and saturated fats provide a strong support structure to keep the cell wall strong, stable and intact. Without the cholesterol and the good saturated fats like coconut oils/milk provide we’re going to have problems because the cells are constantly under attack from free radicals, viruses, bacteria. There’s a constant war on the surface of the cell membrane so it’s incredibly important to have a strong front line with the right fats, like saturated fat, cholesterol, omega-3s, and anti-oxidants.
Cells that are too rigid can cause poor receptor signaling – meaning hormones that are supposed to keep blood sugar stable and mood stable aren’t working. If the cell wall is too weak, viruses can penetrate more easily, causing chronic infections with bacteria or viruses.
What to do if your doctor throws a tantrum about your cholesterol
A lot of perfectly healthy people have cholesterol above 200. Yet the conventional medical doctor sees a different picture and utters dire warnings about impending heart disease risk. Having looked into statin drugs, you know to stay out of that trap. Yet the primary care doctor is insisting that you lower your cholesterol. What do you do?
A lot of people in this situation end up going to the health food store instead and asking the clerk for a recommendation. Unfortunately, many then walk out of the store with red yeast rice, which is itself a problem. The problem with red yeast rice is that it is identical to the statin drugs. In fact, it became the first ever naturally occurring substance to be patented when Merck patented the same yeast, Monascus purpureus, which it then called lovastatin, or by its trade name, Mevacor. Therefore,the possible side effects of red yeast rice include muscle degeneration, which can affect the heart. The heart is basically muscle.
There are much better ways to manage your cholesterol.
Let’s say you want to compromise between what your doctor demands and a truly health cholesterol. Here is the best way to do it: distilled fish oil or cod liver oil by the tablespoon. For a person who is not on blood-thinning medication, or taking daily aspirin or high doses of Vitamin E or ginkgo – all of which can thin blood – I like to start my patients on two tablespoons of fish oil or cod liver oil a day. This can be made more tolerable if you make sure to buy a fruit flavored oil. Carlson’s and Nordic Naturals are both good companies that distill their fish oil to remove heavy metals, and they have lemon or peach flavors. You can find both in most health food stores. After a while on two tablespoons, not only does the total cholesterol lower somewhat, but much more importantly, the “good” HDL cholesterol rises as the “bad” LDL cholesterol falls.
Then I lower the dose to a tablespoon a day for most patients and stay at that dose long term, as a simply tonic food for the brain and the blood vessels. I find that most people who read some-
thing about fish oil or heard about it from another doctor, dose it way too low to be of benefit. They tend to take a few capsules, which amounts to about a teaspoon – being quite a bit less than an effective dose.
How to Read Cholesterol Numbers
Total Cholesterol = 222
LDL = 153
HDL = 37
LDL : HDL should be a 3:1 or even 2:1 ratio for better hormone signaling
153 : 37 is a 4:1 ratio so the HDL needs to come up
Triglycerides = 160
TRI : HDL should be less than 2. 160 : 37 is 4.3
HDL : TOTAL Greater than 25% is healthy
37 : 190
190 *.25 = 47 so right now the HDL is 19.4% of the total which is low
5 Reasons Why You Should Not Take Statins
1.They Don’t Work
Statin drugs work to lower cholesterol, and as your levels fall, you may assume that is proof that you’re getting healthier and lowering your risk of heart disease and heart attack. But that would be far from the truth.
There is far more that goes into your risk of heart disease than your cholesterol levels. Further, there is evidence showing that statins may actually make your heart health worse and only appear effective due to statistical deception.
One report published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology concluded that statin advocates used a statistical tool called relative risk reduction (RRR) to amplify statins’ trivial beneficial effects.2
If you look at absolute risk, statin drugs benefit just 1 percent of the population. This means that out of 100 people treated with the drugs, one person will have one less heart attack. This doesn’t sound so impressive, so statin supporters use a different statistic called relative risk.
Just by making this statistical sleight of hand, statins suddenly become beneficial for 30 to 50 percent of the population. As STATS at George Mason University explained, “An important feature of relative risk is that it tells you nothing about the actual risk.”3
2.Statins Reduce CoQ10
Statins deplete your body of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which accounts for many of their devastating results. Although it was proposed to add a black box warning to statins stating this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided against it in 2014.
CoQ10 is used for energy production by every cell in your body, and is therefore vital for good health, high energy levels, longevity, and general quality of life. CoQ10’s reduced form, ubiquinol, is a critical component of cellular respiration and production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
ATP is a coenzyme used as an energy carrier in every cell of your body. When you consider that your heart is the most energy-demanding organ in your body, you can surmise how potentially devastating it can be to deplete your body’s main source of cellular energy.
So while one of statins’ claims to fame is warding off heart disease, you’re actually increasing your risk when you deplete your body of CoQ10. The depletion of CoQ10 caused by the drug is why statins can increase your risk of acute heart failure.
So if you’re taking a statin drug, you MUST take Coenzyme Q10 as a supplement. If you’re over 40, I would strongly recommend taking ubiquinol instead of CoQ10, as it’s far more effectively absorbed by your body.
In every study conducted so far, ubiquinol has been shown to be far more bioavailable than the non-reduced form (CoQ10). Dr. Steven Sinatra,cardiologist and founder of the New England Heart Center, recommends taking at least 100 milligrams (mg), but preferably 200 mg of high-quality CoQ10 or ubiquinol daily.
One study in the European Journal of Pharmacology showed that ubiquinol effectively rescued cells from the damage caused by the statin drug simvastatin, thereby protecting muscle cells from myopathies.4
The other part most people don’t realize is that CoQ10 and ubiquinol are lipid-soluble materials biosynthesized in your blood. The carrier is the blood lipid cholesterol.
The ubiquinol actually keeps your LDL (often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol) reduced, as it’s an exceptionally potent antioxidant.
Reduced LDL cholesterol isn’t bad cholesterol at all. Only the oxidized version will cause a problem. So by reducing CoQ10 production in your body, you’re also removing the mechanism that keeps your LDL cholesterol from doing harm in your body.
3.Statins Reduce Vitamin K2
A new finding was published in March 2015, and it is not yet widely known.
Research published in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology revealed that, in contrast to the current belief that cholesterol reduction with statins decreases atherosclerosis, the drugs may instead actually stimulate atherosclerosis and heart failure.5
There were several physiological mechanisms discussed in the study that show how statin drugs may make your heart health worse, one being that they inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 protects your arteries from calcification. Without it, plaque levels worsen.
Vitamin K2’s biological role is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also plays a role in removing calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.
According to a 2009 Dutch study, vitamin K2 is associated with reduced vascular calcification even at small dietary intakes.6
Statin drugs inhibit the function of vitamin K2 in your body, which means taking them may put you at risk of vitamin K2 deficiency, a condition known to contribute to a number of chronic diseases, including:
|Osteoporosis||Heart disease||Heart attack and stroke|
|Inappropriate calcification, from heel spurs to kidney stones||Brain disease||Cancer|
4.Statins Reduce Ketone Production
Statins lower cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme in your liver that produces cholesterol (HMG coenzyme A reductase). Unfortunately this is the same enzyme that produces not only CoQ10 but also ketones, which are crucial nutrients to feed your mitochondria.
Ketones are vitally important biological signaling molecules. There are three ketone bodies, acetoacetate, beta hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.
“Ketone bodies are emerging as crucial regulators of metabolic health and longevity, via their ability to regulate HDAC [histone deacetylases] activity and thereby epigenetic gene regulation.”
Ketone bodies appear to inhibit HDAC function, which is implicated in the regulation of aging. Further, researchers noted “ketone bodies may link environmental cues such as diet to the regulation of aging.”9
5.Increased Risk of Serious Diseases
Because statins deplete your body of CoQ10, inhibit synthesis of vitamin K2, and reduce the production of ketone bodies, they increase your risk of other serious diseases. This includes:
Research has shown that long-term statin use (10 years or longer) more than doubles women’s risk of two major types of breast cancer: invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma.10 According to Dr. Sinatra, statins block the squalene pathway (squalene is the precursor to cholesterol), which he believes is essential in preventing breast cancer.
In addition, the use of any statin drug, in any amount, was associated with a significantly increased risk for prostate cancer in a separate study, and there was an increasing risk that came along with an increasing cumulative dose.11
According to a letter to the editor published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology:12
“Several cholesterol-lowering drugs, including statins, have been found to be carcinogenic in rodents in doses that produce blood concentrations of the drugs similar to those attained in treating patients.
In accordance, breast cancer occurred in 12 of 286 women in the treatment group of the CARE (Cholesterol and Recurrent Events) trial, but only in one of 290 in the placebo group … In the PROSPER (Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk) trial, cancer occurred in 245 of 2,891 patients in the treatment group, but only in 199 of 2,913 in the placebo group …
In the SEAS (Simvastatin and Ezetimibe in Aortic Stenosis) trial, cancer occurred in 39 of 944 patients in the treatment group, but only in 23 of 929 in the placebo group …
In the two first simvastatin trials, nonmelanoma skin cancer was seen more often as well, and with statistical significance if the results are calculated together … The latter finding may explain the current so-called epidemic of nonmelanoma skin cancer.”
Statins have also been shown to increase your risk of diabetes via a number of different mechanisms. The most important one is that they increase insulin resistance, which can be extremely harmful to your health. Secondly, statins increase your diabetes risk by raising your blood sugar. Statins work by preventing your liver from making cholesterol.
As a result, your liver returns the sugar to your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar levels. These drugs also rob your body of certain valuable nutrients, which can also impact your blood sugar levels. Two nutrients in particular, vitamin D and CoQ10, are both needed to maintain ideal blood glucose levels. A 2011 meta-analysis confirmed the higher the dosage of statin drugs being taken, the greater the diabetes risk.
The “number needed to harm” for intensive-dose statin therapy was 498 for new-onset diabetes — that’s the number of people who need to take the drug in order for one person to develop diabetes.13 In even simpler terms, 1 out of every 498 people who are on a high-dose statin regimen will develop diabetes.
The following scientific reviews also reached the conclusion that statin use is associated with increased incidence of new-onset diabetes:
•A 2010 meta-analysis of 13 statin trials, consisting of 91,140 participants, found that statin therapy was associated with a 9 percent increased risk for incident diabetes.14 Here, the number needed to harm was 255 over four years, meaning for every 255 people on the drug, one developed diabetes as a result of the drug in that period of time.
•In a 2009 study, statin use was associated with a rise of fasting plasma glucose in patients with and without diabetes, independently of other factors such as age, and use of aspirin, β-blockers, or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.15
The study included data from more than 345,400 patients over a period of two years. On average, statins increased fasting plasma glucose in non-diabetic statin users by 7 mg/dL, and in diabetics, statins increased glucose levels by 39 mg/dL.
Cholesterol is also essential for your brain, which contains about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body. It is critical for synapse formation, i.e. the connections between your neurons, which allow you to think, learn new things, and form memories. So perhaps it’s not surprising that memory loss is widely reported in association with statin use.
Further, remember that statins reduce ketone production. Ketone bodies are used as fuel by your brain, and they have also demonstrated the capacity to protect against neuronal disease, seizures, and age-related brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s. Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine even found statins were associated with an increased Parkinson’s risk.16
High total cholesterol and LDL were also associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. The study concluded, “Statin use may be associated with a higher PD [Parkinson’s disease] risk, whereas higher total cholesterol may be associated with lower risk.”
Statin users are more likely to suffer from musculoskeletal conditions, injuries and pain than non-users.17 Myalgia, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, rhabdomyolysis, autoimmune muscle disease, and tendinous diseases have all been reported in association with statin use.
One reason for this may be statins’ interference with selenium-containing proteins. Selenoproteins such as glutathione peroxidase are crucial for preventing oxidative damage in your muscle tissue. As reported by Wellness Resources:18
“Blocking the selenoprotein enzyme glutathione peroxidase is akin to pouring gasoline on the fire of inflammation and free radicals, which damages muscle tissue. In fact, the scientists described this blocking of the selenoproteins reminiscent of selenium deficiency induced heart failure, known as Keshan’s disease first identified in the 1930s.”
Further, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine:19
” … [S]tatin use is associated with an increased likelihood of diagnoses of musculoskeletal conditions, arthropathies, and injuries … Several factors may explain the musculoskeletal AEs [adverse events] of statin therapy, including the inhibitory effect on coenzyme Q10 synthesis, selenoprotein synthesis, and the mitochondrial respiratory chain.
In addition, in vitro studies indicated that statins may affect apoptosis genes; misregulation of apoptosis is associated with myopathy. Pathologic studies also have shown that statin use may be associated with myopathy in the presence of normal creatine kinase levels, even in the absence of symptoms.
Statin-associated necrotizing autoimmune myopathy was noted to persist or progress despite cessation of statin therapy.”
An objective review of PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane review databases found that for every 10,000 people taking a statin, there were 307 extra patients with cataracts.20 This was supported by a separate JAMA study, which further revealed that the risk of cataracts is increased among statin users compared with non-users.21 Cataract is a clouding of your eye lens and is a main cause of low vision among the elderly.
If You Take Statins, Be Sure You Also Take Vitamin K2 and CoQ10
If you decide to take a statin, a vitamin K2 supplement is highly recommended. MK-7 is the form you’ll want to look for in supplements; it’s extracted from the Japanese fermented soy product called natto. Professor Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top vitamin K2 researchers, recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults.
You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 mcg daily. You’ll also need to make sure you take CoQ10 or ubiquinol (the reduced form) with it. One study evaluated the benefits of CoQ10 and selenium supplementation for patients with statin-associated myopathy.22
Compared to those given a placebo, the treatment group experienced significantly less pain, decreased muscle weakness and cramps, and less fatigue.
How to Protect Your Heart Health
Are you looking for a non-drug way to boost your heart health? Here are some of my top recommendations:
- Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your diet. It is vitally important to eliminate gluten-containing grains and sugars, especially fructose.
- Consume a good portion of your food raw.
- Make sure you are getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg of krill per day may improve your total cholesterol and triglycerides and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol.
- Replace harmful vegetable oils and synthetic trans fats with healthy fats, such as olive oil, butter and coconut oil (remember olive oil should be used cold only; use coconut oil for cooking and baking).
- Include fermented foods in your daily diet. These will not only optimize your intestinal microflora, which will boost your overall immunity, but will also introduce beneficial bacteria into your mouth. Poor oral health is another powerful indicator of increased heart disease risk.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through appropriate sun exposure as this will allow your body to also create vitamin D sulfate — another factor that may play a crucial role in preventing the formation of arterial plaque.
- Exercise regularly. Make sure you incorporate high-intensity interval exercises, which also optimize your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol excessively.
- Be sure to get plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep.
- Practice regular stress-management techniques.
- Forette B. et al. Cholesterol as risk factor for mortality in elderly women. Lancet. 1989. Apr. 222. 1(8643):868-870.
- Forette, Bernard. Hypertension in very old subjects. Clin Exp Hypertens 1999: Jul-Aug. 21:5-6. 917-925.
- Bradford RH et al. Expanded clinical evaluation of lovastatin (EXCEL) study results. Arch Intern Med.1991. 151:43-49.
- Ravnskov U. The Cholesterol Myths. New Trends Publishing. Washington, DC 2000.
- 24th American Heart Assocation Conference on Stroke and Cerebral Circulation. 1999.
- Vonk B. How to determine your cardiovascular health. www.mercola.com. January 4, 2003.
- Olszewska M. Flavonoids from Prunus serotina Ehrh. Act Pol Pharm 2005 Mar-Apr. 62:2. 127-133.