In the past few weeks, the new cholesterol treatment guidelines were published (Stone, et. al, 2013). The new guidelines are taking a very different approach, focusing more broadly on risk and prevention of strokes and heart attacks, moving away from specific targets for cholesterol. Now, guidelines for recommending the use of statin drugs, or pharmaceuticals that block the enzyme in your liver that makes cholesterol, are based on a new formula for estimating risk (includes age, gender, race, and other factors).
If these guidelines are followed, one in three adults will be told to take statins (Stone, et. al, 2013). That’s DOUBLE the amount of Americans already taking statins. The preventative-medicine chief at Northwestern, Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, is quoted as saying that statins are “remarkably safe drugs,” whose benefits outweigh their risks (Fox News, 2013).
Unfortunately, the huge push for statin use nationwide is at the expense of the nation’s health. Folks, the benefits of statins absolutely do not outweigh the risks! Statins are mitochondrial poisons, and they rob your cells of energy. Their side effects include:
- 1) Pancreas or liver dysfunction (Ardati, Stolley, Knapp, Wolfe, & Lurie, 2005)
- 2) Sexual dysfunction (Rizvi, Hampson, & Harvey, 2001)
- 3) Muscle problems (Hanai, et. al, 2007)
- 4) Cognitive impairment (Paddock, 2013)
- 5) Increased risk of developing diabetes (Culver, et. al, 2012)
- 6) Increased risk of cancer (Alsheikh-Ali, Maddukuri, Han, Karas, 2007)
- 7) CoQ10 depletion (Deichmann, Lavie, & Andrews, 2010)
- 8) Coenzyme Q10 is very beneficial to heart health and muscle function. Statins deplete your body of CoQ10, which can lead to fatigue, and even heart failure.
The Real Problem
The problem is, we’re chasing the wrong thing. This big, evil thing called “cholesterol” is not evil. It’s a good thing! It is the backbone of repair, the precursor to our hormones and vitamin D synthesis, as well as the foundation of bile salts, which are crucial to breaking down and absorbing fats in our diet. In fact, 20% of our body’s cholesterol is in our brain! It’s also a natural and protective measure for cholesterol to increase with age, as the amount of free radicals in the body increases with age.
Let’s look to the root cause – inflammation! Inflammation from stress, a diet high in refined sugars, processed foods, and trans fats, and poor sleep are all factors that can cause cholesterol to oxidize. When cholesterol becomes oxidized, it’s like a bullet in the arteries. It can become lodged in the arterial walls, causing a rush of white blood cells to the area to repair the damage, resulting in a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Treating oxidized cholesterol with statins is like a firefighter going after the smoke, and not the fire!
Speaking of inflammation, one of the first things that I recommend to my patients that are on statins is to consider getting off of them. I’ve personally seen cases of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), severe fibromyalgia, and multiple diseases improve by reducing total body inflammation, including the removal of statins.
Ways to Reduce Inflammation
There are several ways to improve inflammation by diet and lifestyle. First, though, it’s important to mention that if you’ve been using statins for longer than six months, it’s likely that you’re deficient in Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), B vitamins, and vitamin D3.
Make sure you supplement with these from a source that’s had independent verification for quality, especially with CoQ10, because it’s an unstable product. Quality control is more important than ever, as a recent study showed that 30% of herbal supplements contain nothing claimed on the label (O’ Connor, 2013). Many more are riddled with toxic contents and preservatives. These are the keys to choosing a high quality supplement
As for ways to reduce and improve inflammation, read my posts here
, and here
By getting off of statins, cleaning up your diet, and improving your lifestyle, you’ll see remarkable improvements not only in your cholesterol, but overall health!
Alsheikh-Ali, A., Maddukuri, P., Han, H., Karas, R. (2007). Effect of the magnitude of lipid lowering on risk of elevated liver enzymes, rhabdomyolysis, and cancer. Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Volume 50, Issue 5: http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1138360&issueno=5
Culver, A., Ockene, I., Balasubramanian, R., Olendzki, B., Sepavich, D., Wactawski-Wende, J., Manson, J., Qiao, Y., Liu, S., Merriam, P., Rahilly-Tierny, C., Thomas, F., Berger, J., Ockene, J., Curb, J., Ma, Y. (2012). Statin use and risk of diabetes mellitus in post-menopausal women in the women’s health initiative. JAMA Internal Medicine. Vol 172, No. 2. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1108676.
Hanai, J. Cao, P., Tanksale, P., Imamura, S., Koshimizu, E., Zhao, J., Kishi, S., Yamashita, M., Phillips, P., Sukhatme, V., Lecker, S. (2007). The muscle-specific ubiquitin ligase atrogine-1/MAFbx mediates statin-induced muscle toxicity. J Clin Invest.
Dec; 117(12):3940-51. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?orig_db=PubMed&cmd=Search&TransSchema=title&term=%22The+Journal+of+clinical+investigation%22%5BJour%5D+AND+2007%2F12%5Bpdat%5D+AND+atrogin-1
Stone, N., Robinson, J., Lichtenstein, A., Bairey Merz, N., Lloyd-Jones, D., Blum, C., McBridge, P., Eckel, R., Schwartz, S., Goldberg, A., Shero, S., Gordon, D., Smith, S., Levy, D., Watson, K., Wilson, P. (2013). 2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1770217.