What are Statins (Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs) and How Do They Work?
Statins work by inhibiting the action of an enzyme called HMG coenzyme A reductase. A more technical name for statins is HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. HMG-CoA reductase is involved in manufacturing cholesterol, so by inhibiting this enzyme, one’s cholesterol does go down, which is why cholesterol-lowering drugs are indeed effective at lowering cholesterol. HMG-CoA reductase is also responsible for manufacturing the body’s coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a powerful antioxidant.
The Importance of Cholesterol
Cholesterol has been demonized in recent years by the pharmaceutical industry, but having adequate cholesterol is essential for good health. For example, without adequate cholesterol, the body is not able to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. Cholesterol is also essential for adequate neurological function,as well as being a precursor to all hormones such as the adrenal hormones. The adrenal hormones are responsible for regulating many processes in the body, such as inflammation, allergic response, libido, and blood sugar, among other things.
The Importance of Vitamin D
Remember that by inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol, the synthesis of vitamin D is also inhibited. That means that even if you are eating vitamin D rich foods or getting adequate sunlight exposure, your body will still not be able to synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin D if you are also taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. Adequate levels of vitamin D are essential for a healthy immune system, blood sugar metabolism, mental health, and cancer prevention.
The Importance of Coenzyme Q10
HMG-CoA reductase is responsible for the body’s production of both cholesterol and coenzyme Q10. Statin drugs act by blocking the action of HMG-CoA reductase, and therefore, the body also becomes depleted of CoQ10.
Coenzyme Q10 is necessary for the body’s production of ATP, which provides energy to all cells. The heart depends on CoQ10 in order to have adequate energy to pump properly. Statin-induced depletion of CoQ10 leads to fatigue, muscle soreness and weakness, and eventually heart failure. CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage, and it also plays a role in maintaining blood glucose (diabetes prevention).
Since statins interfere with the production of CoQ10, it is essential for statin users to supplement with this vital nutrient. Cholesterol expert Dr. Langsjoen recommends that all statin users supplement with 100-200 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day.
The Benefits of High Cholesterol and Dangers of Low Cholesterol
We have been brainwashed by the pharmaceutical companies to think that having high cholesterol is bad, but in fact, good science proves the very opposite. A study in 1994, for example, showed that old people with high cholesterol were half as likely to die from a heart attack as old people with low cholesterol. In fact, most studies of old people show that cholesterol is not a risk factor of coronary artery disease. Studies have also shown that high cholesterol is not a risk factor for women.
Studies have also shown that people with low cholesterol are at a greater risk of dying from gastrointestinal disease and respiratory diseases. Low cholesterol is also associated with greater incidence of HIV, and people with low cholesterol are also much more likely to die of heart failure.
A Meta-Analysis of Studies Disproves the Benefit of Statins
After a thorough analysis of all the major studies done on people who use statins, cholesterol expert Dr. Uffe Ravnskov concluded that the small benefits of using statins are not statistically significant, meaning the percentage of benefit is really no different than benefit from placebo. In fact, it was found that in some studies, more deaths occurred in treatment groups (people who used statins) vs. controls (those who did not use statins).
The Major Side Effects of Statins
A meta-analysis of studies shows that statin drugs cause liver damage, and sometimes liver failure. To protect the liver, all statin users should take a daily liver detox supplement, such as liver milk thistle.
Muscle Pain and Weakness (Rhabdomyolysis)
Muscle pain and weakness, also known as rhabdomyolysis, is a common side effect of taking statins. Most likely, this side effect is due to statin-induced depletion of coenzyme Q10, which is essential for proper muscle function.
Rhabdomyolysis can lead to kidney injury, kidney failure, and death.
Polyneuropathy is a nerve disease characterized by weakness, tingling and pain in the hands and feet, as well as difficulty walking. Studies have shown that statin use is associated with an increased incidence of this condition. Duration of statin use increases the risk of polyneuropathy, and the nerve damage is often irreversible.
Alzheimer’s & Loss of Brain Function
Adequate cholesterol is essential for proper brain function. Studies have found that older people with high cholesterol have better memory function and reduced dementia. Studies have also shown that people with low cholesterol have a greater risk of Alzheimer’s than those with high cholesterol.
Author and cholesterol expert Dr. Duane Graveline wrote a book about what statins did to his memory, titled Lipitor: Thief of Memory. Six months after Dr. Graveline started using Lipitor, he was diagnosed with transient global amnesia. He was unable to formulate new memories and also had retrograde memory loss. Suspecting that Lipitor was to blame, Dr. Graveline started doing his own research on statin side effects. At present, Dr. Graveline has uncovered over 2,000 cases of transient global amnesia associated with the use of statins.
Cholesterol expert Yeon Kyun Shin explains: “If you deprive cholesterol from the brain, then you directly affect the machinery that triggers the release of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters affect the data-processing and memory functions. In other words — how smart you are and how well you remember things.”
A recent study found that statin use increased the risk of pneumonia by a whopping 62% in elderly patients requiring hospitalization.
Cancer: The Deadly Price of Using Statin Drugs
After a thorough meta-analysis of studies on cancer and statin use, it was found that there was an inverse relationship between low cholesterol levels and cancer. What this means is that those people who were able to lower their cholesterol effectively with statins were at greater risk for developing cancer.
The statin drug Vytorin was taken off the market in 2008 after it was proven to have caused a whopping 64% increase in all types of cancer.
Scientific studies have found that all major statin drugs (Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol, Zocor, Crestor) cause cancer in rodents, and warnings about possible carcinogenicity in humans is found on all statin drug labels.
A recent study reported that among obese men, those who used a statin for 5 years or more had a whopping 80% greater risk of developing prostate cancer than those who did not use a statin drug. Other human studies have shown that statin drug use increases the risk of skin cancer and breast cancer.
A study done in the UK showed that patients at risk for heart failure benefited from having high cholesterol rather than low. Those patients who had low cholesterol were at a greater risk of dying from heart failure.
A recent large-scale study done on postmenopausal women found that there was a whopping 48% increase in incidence of diabetes in women who took statins vs. women who did not take statins.
A meta-analysis of studies has found that statin use is linked to an increased risk of diabetes in men and women of all age groups.
What is the Real Cause of Heart Disease?
Inflammation Not Cholesterol
According to cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Dwight Lundell, it is chronic inflammation, not cholesterol, that is the cause of heart disease. “Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.”
Any stress, emotional or physical, can also lead to chronic inflammation. Toxins in our food and environment would be examples of physical stresses, and long work hours would be an example of emotional stress.
Eating a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids will help reduce inflammation. That means staying away from Omega 6 fats, like corn and soy oil, and eating more Omega 3-rich animal based fats, such as fish, eggs, butter and meat. Heart healthy vegetable based fats that are rich in Omega 3 fats include olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados. Those who cannot get enough Omega 3 fats from foods should take a good Omega 3 fish oil supplement.
Homeopathic treatment is also recommended for people with heart disease, because it gets to the root cause of the problem (chronic inflammation) without causing any of the harmful side effects of statin drugs. Click here to learn more about homeopathic treatment for heart disease.
The clinical use of HMG CoA-reductase inhibitors (statins) and the associated depletion of the essential co-factor coenzyme Qlo; a review of pertinent human and animal data by Peter H. Langsjoen, M.D., F.A.c.c.
Further Reading: Websites about the Dangers of Statins
Further Reading: Books about the Dangers of Statins
By Sonya McLeod
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