Sunday, August 3, 2008

Statin Drugs - The Misguided War against Cholesterol

Note – much of this material is from “Statin Drugs, Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol ” by Dr. Graveline, M.D, see If you are taking a statin drug, you should not stop taking this medication on your own. You should work with a wellness oriented physician to optimize your care and work with your doctor to wean off them. Abruptly stopping these medications can produce a rebound increase in inflammation which may be harmful.

This is a fairly detailed article. As a student of molecular biology I tend to overly enjoy molecular detail. I realize many of you will want to get to the “bottom line.” For a quicker read you can get the main points by covering the first section up to “digging deeper” and skip to the last 2 sections “summary” and “action points” DE

Statin Drugs, Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol

For nearly four decades, those in medicine have been taught that cholesterol was the culprit in cardiovascular disease because it was found in atherosclerotic plaques.

Guilt by association was the primary justification for the decision back in the mid-fifties to force upon our nation the now infamous low fat/ low cholesterol diet/high sugar diet. Now forty years later, the prevalence of atherosclerosis remains unchanged and we have become a nation of gross obesity and type 2 diabetes. For forty years our doctors and their patients have been told that cholesterol was their enemy.

How did this happen? A lot of the blame must go to Ancel Keys. Ancel Keys published the “Seven Countries Study” which claimed to have found strong associations between the rate of heart disease and the intake of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids in 7 countries. His data combined with the guilt by association mindset of the time led to the low fat dietary strategies which have prevailed to this day.

Problems with Keys research
When Keys data was reviewed by others it was found that actually the majority of the countries he studied did not show any association between the intake of fat and heart disease. Apparently, when Keys did not see an association between cholesterol and heart disease he left them out of the sample which was presented in his famous report. In other words, he “cherry picked” the data to get the answer he wanted. When all the data is used and the missing countries are included we see that the “strong association” Keys reported is completely erased.

Some are now realizing that the 40-year war on cholesterol through the use of drugs and the now infamous low fat/low cholesterol diet has been a terrible mistake. We have become a nation prone to obesity, type 2 diabetes and a rapid decline in the health of our children. Sadly, largely due to obesity and diabetes, children today are now expected to have a shorter life span than their parents. We are not making medical progress.

Unfortunately, the public and physicians continue to use statins because they “know” statins work. The war on cholesterol has become a dogma that is not to be questioned. Ironically, cholesterol never was the issue. Heart disease is caused by inflammation and oxidative damage. For more detail - Please see my posting on December 4th, 2007 in “Preventing Heart Disease.”

Cholesterol deposition in the arteries actually turns out to be a repair mechanism and not the actual cause of the atherosclerosis process. The primary factors leading to the damage of our arteries is related to our poor nutritional status: trans fats, too much sugars, too little fruits & vegetables and omega 3 fatty acids, low vitamin intake such as D and C. Adding to this we have chlorine and fluoride in our water with too little exercise and we have a recipe for disaster.

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Are Not the Answer
As you know statin drugs are the most commonly used medications to lower cholesterol and Lipitor is the best seller. Ironically, it turns out that the small beneficial effect these drugs have on the heart is not due to lowering cholesterol but rather is a result of their anti-inflammatory effects. While reducing inflammation is beneficial, we have better ways to accomplish this goal.

The mainstream media and medical publications fail to highlight the powerful, natural ways to reduce inflammation that do not have the negative effects we see with cholesterol lowering medications (see below).

Statin drugs block a process that we were designed by our Creator. The enzyme that statin drugs block is called HMG CoA Reductase. Blocking this enzyme produces not only a reduction in the critical nutrient, Cholesterol but also CoQ10, Vitamin D, Bile Acids and most of our hormones. As a result of this we see a long list of side effects of statin drugs such as:
  • Nausea
  • Irritability and short tempers
  • Hostility
  • Homicidal impulses
  • Rapid loss of mental clarity
  • Amnesia
  • Kidney failure
  • Muscle aching and weakness
  • Tingling or cramping in the legs
  • Inability to walk
  • Problems sleeping
  • Muscle damage
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Nerve damage
  • Mental confusion
  • Liver damage and abnormalities
  • Neuropathy
  • Global Amnesia
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Cancer
  • Death

Digging Deeper
Statins are ineffective in the Primary Prevention of Heart Attacks and Strokes
Studies Show Statins do not work in the Primary Prevention of Heart Attacks. The NNT (number needed to treat to prevent an endpoint) for statin drugs in the primary prevention of heart attacks and strokes is 100. That is to say you would need to have 100 people take a statin daily for 5 years in order to prevent 1 heart attack or stroke. Researchers consider a NNT above 50 as worthless. If you were offered an antibiotic for your sinus or urinary tract infection would you be satisfied with a NNT as low as 5 (a 1 in 5 chance of working)? Why do we accept a 1/100 chance with our hearts and accept all the negative effects of statin drugs. It does not make since. Just adding fish oil lowers the risk of heart attacks by 32%! Statins do nothing but raise the risk of cancer and death for 99/100 who take them to prevent a heart attack (note - the benefit is higher if you have already had a heart attack or stroke but again there are safer choices.)
Please see Business Week Cover Story January 17, 2008

CoQ 10 Depletion (Coenzyme Q10 or Ubiquinone)
Ubiquinone (a.k.a. Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10) is arguably our most important essential nutrient. Its role in energy production is to make possible the transfer of electrons from one protein complex to another within the inner membrane of the mitochondria to its ultimate recipient, ATP.The adult human body pool of this substance has been reported to be 2 grams and requires replacement of about 0.5 gms per day. This must be supplied by our body making it or dietary intake. Our ability to make CoQ10 decreases progressively in humans above age 21, and the average ubiquinone content of the western diet is less than 5 mg/day.

In the June 2004, Archives of Neurology, the Neurology Department of Columbia University reported a greater than 50% fall in plasma Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) in their group taking Lipitor 80 mg for 30 days, in a striking documentation of the impact of statin therapy on ubiquinone biosynthesis.CHF and CoQ10 Depletion Depriving the body of this important nutrient for energy utilization would be expected to cause damage to the most active parts of our body like the heart and our immune system. Statin drug use has been noted to increase the incidence of congestive heart failure or CHF. This has been documented as well as the prompt response to statin induced CHF to CoQ10.Although the heart may be the first to show effects of ubiquinone deprivation, every cell and every tissue in the body is dependent upon mitochondrial energy supply.

Recently the relationship between chronic fatigue and ubiquinone deficiency has been reportedMitochondrial DNA Damage Our mitochondria enable us to use oxygen and therefore must be in contact with it. This makes having a strong defense against free radicals essential to prevent damage. Without adequate amounts of CoQ10 superoxide and hydroxyl radicals can cause oxidative damage to mitochondria DNA The resulting mitochondrial DNA mutations may contribute directly to many chronic muscle diseases (myopathies), diabetes and even aging itself.Ubiquinol Depletion Ubiquinone is related to ubiquinol which maintains cell membrane integrity. Ubiquinol depletion is felt to lead to the frequently fatal form of muscle damage known as rhabdomyolysis.

Additional Problems Caused by Statin Drugs

Low Levels of Vitamin D: Statins block the production of cholesterol which is the building block of vitamin D which becomes a very important hormone. If you lower your vitamin D and you may double your risk of death. June 2008 new study showed that vitamin-D deficiency is associated doubling the deaths from all causes. (see Dobnig H, Pilz S, Scharnagl H, et al. “Independent association of low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.” Arch Intern Med 2008; 168:1340-1349Low levels of hormones: Low hormonal status in associated with an increase in inflammation, heart disease, impotence, cognitive decline

Dolichol Synthesis Inhibition and Brain Dysfunction

The dolichols are another area of collateral damage from statin use. Dolichols direct proteins to their proper target. Without dolichols the proteins are sent to the wrong address. This results impaired neuropeptide formation which leads to abnormal emotions. The Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego published a paper called “Severe irritability associated with statin cholesterol-lowering drugs” which details even homicidal tendencies due to these medications You can read this article at: Dr. Graveline recounted his experience taking Lipitor for only six weeks. Soon after he went for a walk, Dr. Graveline was found wandering, confused, and reluctant to enter his own home because he didn't recognize it or remember his wife's name. The amnesia cleared but came back again after restarting the Lipitor.

Cancer due to inhibition of NF-κB

NF-κB serves as an important regulator of genes that control cell multiplication proliferation. With this in mind it is not surprising that many different types of cancers have been associated with abnormal NF-κB activity.

Increased cancer deaths among recipients of statin drugs already are being observed. The PROSPER trial demonstrated that statin therapy increased the incidence of cancer deaths, completely offsetting the slight decrease in deaths from cardiovascular disease. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology revealed that driving down cholesterol levels actually triples the risk of cancer (Alsheikh-Ali, A. A. et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2007; 50:409-418)

Natural Ways to Reduce Heart

DiseaseIs there a natural way to reduce inflammation and oxidative injury to our heart? Can we keep our hearts healthy? Absolutely! Proper nutrition, exercise, thyroid, hormones, fish oil, vitamins – C,D vitamins B6,12 and folic acid, CoQ10, lysine and proline, avoiding toxins and detoxification programs. Most of us do not eat enough fruit/vegetables (5-13 servings recommended daily). The Framingham Study showed a strong protective effect of fruits and vegetables. I highly recommend adding clinically proven supplemental fruit/vegetable capsules – 2 fruit in am and 2 vegetable caps in pm. These Fruit/vegetable capsules can be ordered at


People take statin drugs because they are encouraged to do so by well done commercials & Ads which are reinforced by their well meaning doctors. FDA approval, well done ad campaigns and good intentions do not negate the basic problem: We are ingesting a poison to our delicate intracellular biochemistry and we are paying a heavy toll for it.
Any student of biochemistry and molecular biology would immediately point out the folly of trying to block cholesterol production at the expense of massive collateral damage. Statin drugs block the pathway involved in the production of life essential CoQ10, dolichols, vitamin D and hormones.

Even if you still believe in the cholesterol hypothesis, believe the studies which show their NNT – number needed to treat is 100. They just do not work. Even if cholesterol was the problem, statins would be a terrible solution – they do not work and they have far too much collateral damage.

Action points
Avoid statin drugs and take extra CoQ10 if you have ever taken a statin: 300-400 mg a day
Eat 5+ servings of fruit & vegetables & take fruit/vegetable capsules (see if you eat less
Eliminate Trans fats / partially hydrogenated fats such as corn oil and margarine. Use olive & coconut oil and butter instead
Optimize your Vitamin D status
Take a high quality fish oil like Nordic Naturals
Take Vitamin C, L-Lysine and L-Proline
Minimize intake of refined carbs - cookies, white bread, and even fruit juice
Avoid tap water (contains fluoride and chlorine)
Avoid Pesticides, Herbicides & Plastics
Take a daily combination of vitamins, CoQ10 Selenium, fish oil (i.e. Physicians Preference Power Pak) 1-2 /d
Exercise (Interval training and not just “cardio”
Suspect hypothyroidism and get it treated with natural thyroid. Test your basal body temperature first thing in the morning to see if your thyroid function is lower than normal (97.8-98.2 degrees is normal)