Statin Deception and Truths
Statins are the #1 highest revenue-generating drug category in the US. Are you surprised? Prescribed typically to lower total cholesterol or the amount of so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol, doctors are recommending these drugs to an increasingly wider group of patients. In some cases, statins are given to healthy people with no cardiovascular issues at all but who have a family history of related problems.You will notice in statin advertisements that the goal promised is lowering cholesterol – not preventing heart disease or savings lives. For most people taking them, statins do “work” as advertised – they artificially lower your LDL cholesterol. But do you know how they do it? And is it always a good idea? And does it really change your risk of dying from a heart attack?
Statins immobilize part of your liver. Yes, that’s right. They clamp down on the most important organ in your body for detoxification and metabolism. Statins do this essentially by blocking an enzyme pathway so your liver cannot make cholesterol. Many people are under the mistaken impression that you simply get high cholesterol by eating it in foods like steak, eggs, and butter. Your liver, however, is capable of making much more cholesterol than most of us could ever eat. That’s because cholesterol is a natural and critical substance in the body. Among many other roles, it’s used to build membranes for all the ~10 trillion cells in your body. Cholesterol is not evil. It protects your nerves, especially those in your brain. It’s also required for your body to make hormones like testosterone and estrogen. If you take away too much of your body’s cholesterol, we suffer the consequences. For example, it should be no surprise that we now appear in the US to have an epidemic of “low T” with so much of the population taking statins!
So let’s say you take a statin and lower your cholesterol. Does that mean you are safe from heart disease? Not even close! The same enzyme pathway in the liver that makes cholesterol also makes a critical nutrient called CoEnzyme-10 (or CoQ10). In every cell of our body, we have many mitochondria – little energy factories which fuel the basic process of life and give us energy. If you take a statin drug, your body’s ability to make CoQ10 is greatly impaired. As a result, energy production in our cells suffers, particularly cells in muscle tissue. And what’s the most important muscle in the body? Your heart.
Multiple studies have shown that without CoQ10 supplementation, taking statins makes your heart weaker, not stronger. Even more importantly, statins increase coronary artery calcification (CAC). And elevated CAC increases the risk of heart disease. No, I’m not making this up! A drug designed to prevent heart disease is actually capable of predisposing you for it. We also know from headlines last year that statins increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Statin users also report a whole host of other side effects too, especially exhaustion, fatigue, and acute muscle pain and soreness. Sometimes these side effects can last for months or years after stopping the medication. In fact, I have supported many clients over the years who suffered terribly with the supposedly “rare” side effects of statins on muscles.
So are the benefits of statins worth the trade-offs? That’s exactly the question I encourage you to ponder carefully. Research shows the answer is undeniably “yes” if you are male, over the age of about 70, and have already had a heart attack or stroke. For all others, the answer statistically is “no, not really”. But there’s another point to consider too. Contrary to what you hear in statin ads, there is no scientifically-proven correlation between total cholesterol levels and the incidence of heart disease. In fact, people with the lowest cholesterol as they age are at the highest risk of death (more than one expansive study has reached this conclusion).
Are you confused or concerned yet? This is a topic about which I am particularly passionate! My individual counseling practice is full with a closed waiting list at the moment, yet I know there are many people who want help and guidance on their heart health. Rich, clear explanations, not headlines. In November, I’m offering you an opportunity to get just that. Please join me for my Cardiovascular Myths & Truths webinar. I want to clearly explain the actual dynamics of cardiovascular disease to you. Step by step. And explain what we know increases heart attack risk and what doesn’t. You’ll be surprised to find out what kind of foods actually do contribute to heart disease risk. I’ll show you clearly what scientific research to date does and doesn’t demonstrate. And what you can definitely do to protect your heart health long-term! Fear-mongering sells a lot of drugs. I want to give you the comfort and hope of knowledge, so you can confidently make the choices that feel right for you. ( This one-time special event will be live on November 7th. But no worries if you can’t make that date: you’ll retain access to the webinar recording for an entire month and may review it as many times as you wish.)
Over the past forty years, an unprecedented number of new medications have become available to the American public. In some cases these new discoveries save lives.They can also make basic daily functioning finally feasible for those with debilitating ailments. Blessed inventions! In other cases, however, we have medications designed to “band aid” the damage we do to our body through poor lifestyle choices. We are becoming increasingly comfortable with just popping a pill to “fix” something going on in our bodies.
It is important to remember that all medications are toxins.Yes, 100% of them. Even if they have beneficial effects, they are still unnatural, chemical substances that the body must detoxify just like a poison. So make sure that any medication you take – whether prescribed or over-the-counter – is really necessary and critical to your wellbeing. We need to learn to think about the trade-off of putting toxins in our body each time we swallow a drug. Sometimes, it’s absolutely worth it, and other times, there are major consequences that could absolutely be avoided.
The medical media and pharmaceutical companies often portray heart disease protection to be as mindless as popping a pill. Taking medications is a personal choice influenced by a wide variety of factors. I just encourage you to take those choices seriously – to get educated to weigh all the pros and cons. Be empowered to take ownership of your health in discussion with your physician. Get educated about the side effects and toxicity and natural alternatives to every drug you consider taking. (And, if you do take statins, check with your doctor and at a minimum seriously consider supplementing daily with an appropriate dose of CoQ10 to keep your heart healthy and strong.)
Here’s another hot-off-the-presses research article about potential statin harm, in this case from glaucoma. Absolute risk is up to 48% higher in those who use statins vs. those who do not. This article also gives you links to many other clinical studies involving statins if you’d like to learn more.