In an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that statin drug users consumed 10 percent more calories and 14 percent more fat in 2009 and 2010 than statin users did 10 years prior. It’s a safe bet to assume that when physicians prescribe these medications they are recommending these drugs to improve their patient’s health. Unfortunately, as is often the case with the “magic pill” approach that statins seem to offer, the cholesterol-lowering effects of the drug make the lifestyle changes that patient’s really require seem less necessary.
According to Dr. Martin Shapiro, co-author of the study, “Once your LDL levels fall from taking a statin, it’s human nature to become less careful about what you eat. You might think it’s okay to go for that ice cream sundae. . .” He goes on to cite higher body mass indexes and increased incidence of diabetes than a decade earlier as a result of this behavior. In fact, overeating may not be the whole reason for the results that he is seeing. There is a more insidious and dangerous effect that statin drugs have on the liver and it leads to hyperinsulinemia, high blood glucose and, believe it or not, increased risk of heart failure.
Statins – The Untold Story
By provoking higher blood insulin levels, statin drugs promote systemic inflammation, a key ingredient in most chronic diseases. Moreover, since glucose is used in the formation of cholesterol, blocking that chemical reaction will cause the liver to release glucose back into the blood – chronically high blood sugar leads to Type 2 diabetes. But, maybe the scariest side effect is what statin drugs are doing to the heart muscle itself.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a powerful antioxidant that protects the mitochondrial DNA and the energy production of all cells, especially those of the heart muscle. CoQ10 is produced in the liver through the same reaction that creates cholesterol. In the process of blocking cholesterol production, statin drugs also inhibit production of CoQ10. This leads to depletion of this vital antioxidant. Uninterrupted, CoQ10 insufficiency may lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, and even eventually heart failure.
Side Effects of Statin Drugs
That information would probably be enough to scare many away from statin drugs if they knew about it. Unfortunately there is no requirement for any kind of warning regarding these side-effects. Likewise, the recommendation for regular monitoring of liver enzymes has been removed, even as the FDA applies a new warning for potential liver damage associated with statin use. The truth is there are many negative side effects associated with statin drugs of which few patients are fully aware.
The following list notes just a few of the possibly hundreds of side effects linked to statin drugs:
- Abdominal pain
- Cognitive loss
- Sexual dysfunction
- Muscle pain
- Liver damage
Are Statins Necessary?
That is a controversial question that more and more healthcare practitioners are answering in the negative – especially since the common basis for recommendation is high total cholesterol which really reveals nothing about heart disease risk unless it is over 330.
There are more accurate indicators of elevated heart disease risk, including:
- HDL/Total Cholesterol – above 24% is excellent, less than 10% is high risk
- Triglyceride/HDL – less than 2 is low risk
Cholesterol is a natural substance that your body makes because you need it to be healthy. It is important for hormone production, neurological function and vitamin synthesis in addition to other important functions. Suppressing cholesterol production with drugs may not be the healthiest way to go about it.
A Natural Cholesterol Management Plan
Use these natural methods to help your body achieve its own unique, healthy cholesterol levels:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat fresh whole foods cooked at home
- Avoid grains and sugars in the diet
- Cook with heart healthy oils such as olive, coconut and avocado
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use
- Get enough sleep
- Supplement your diet with a well-designed omega-3 fatty acid supplement
The great thing about this cholesterol management plan is that you’ll feel better, have healthy cholesterol levels – and you won’t have to worry about getting fat.
Editor’s Note: Natural Wellness’ Cholesterol Support naturally supports healthy cholesterol and homocysteine levels.