Statins are the most profitable medications in the history of Big Pharma. They are promoted as the go-to medications to prevent/treat heart disease. A recent study found nearly 100% of men and 62% of women aged 66-75 should take a statin medication even if their cholesterol level is normal. (1)
Listening to conventional cardiologists, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and many other mainstream groups would have you believe that statins should be placed in the water supply. If statins significantly lowered the risk of heart disease–they don’t–and if statins were not associated with adverse effects–they areؘ–then I could entertain a discussion on the widespread use of statins. However, statins are associated with a wide range of serious adverse drug reactions which should cause any health care provider to think twice or at least to use caution when prescribing this class of medication.
Let’s look at some of the adverse drug reactions from statins. The following numbers come from the FDA Adverse Events Reporting System. The information was compiled by Philip Blair, M.D. When I saw the huge numbers of serious reactions reported for statin users gathered from Dr. Blair’s data analysis, I said, “holy cow”. Dr. Blair explained that the FDA data, reported by practicing physicians in the trenches, shows frequent associations between statins and numerous serious conditions. Keep in mind that very few adverse drug reactions—from 1-10%–are actually reported to the FDA. This information was first reported to me by my colleague Duanne Graveline, M.D. Dr. Graveline suffered two transient global amnesia events and chronic neuropathy all due to taking a statin medication. He has written an excellent book about his experience with Lipitor. The book is titled, “Lipitor, Thief of Memory.”
Statins work by poisoning an enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) which is needed to produce cholesterol, adrenal and sex hormones, memory proteins and maintain cell energy. The highest concentration of cholesterol in the body is found in the brain. Can you guess an organ that will suffer when cholesterol production is blocked? If you guessed the brain, you would win the prize.
All of the following events occurred from 2004 to 2014 and were gathered from the FDA Adverse Events Databases.
- Brain function: There were 36,605 reports of brain dysfunction which included memory impairment, transient cases of global amnesia, confusion, paranoia, disorientation, depression, and dementia related to statin use. Remember, this number is thought to represent only 1-10% of the true number of adverse drug reactions.
I have seen many patients suffer with a decline in brain function from taking a statin drug. Knowing how statins work—they poison an enzyme needed to make cholesterol—would allow anyone to predict that brain problems will be more common from statin use.
Folks, statins are responsible for many more adverse effects. In fact, there are well over 100,000 adverse event reports related to statins. In addition to the brain, statins negatively affect the functioning of the liver, kidneys, and muscles. I will report more about these other adverse drug effects in later posts.
I wrote in my book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, “You can’t poison a crucial enzyme or block an important receptor for the long-term and expect a good result.”
Perhaps we could live with all these adverse drug reactions if statins significantly lowered the risk for cardiovascular disease. But, they don’t. Statins have never been convincingly shown to prevent a first heart attack in both men and women. In men, the best of the statin studies show a 1-4% reduced risk of preventing a secondary cardiac event. In women, the numbers are worse.
It is shocking to me that so many health care providers and nearly all cardiologists would ever prescribe these medications for any patient. Heart disease patients are not developing heart disease due to a statin-deficiency syndrome. Perhaps these health care providers should start doing what doctors were taught to do: Search for the underlying cause of the illness and address that.
More information about statins can be found in my book along with recommendations about what you can do to avoid taking a statin medication.
- JAMA Int. Med. Published online November 17, 2014. E1
- Duanne Graveline, M.D. Lipitor, Thief of Memory