What you may have not been told about Cholesterol lowering medications (statin drugs)

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The Statin drugs which lower cholesterol, among the most prescribed medications currently, (Lipitor, Zocor, Prevastatin et al) caused cancer in the rat studies EVEN WHEN GIVEN IN THE SAME DOSAGE AS USUALLY PRESCRIBED TO HUMANS.
In an excellent and highly informative review article published in 2009, Wainwright et al. [43] developed a strong argument that Statin drugs, by depleting cholesterol, lead to a destabilization of cell membranes "from head to toe." This problem, in turn, increases risk to a long list of serious health conditions and diseases, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cognitive problems, hemorrhagic stroke, cancer, and even ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known commonly as Lou Gehrig's disease). Their arguments are backed up by references to 85 peer-reviewed journal publications. (1)

These medications are hard on the liver, undermining liver cells for their action. They also can cause muscle weakness and other side effects.

Statins have also been shown to reduce the relative risk of heart attacks in men in their 50's by as much as 30%, but, because heart attacks are relatively rare for this segment of the population, the absolute risk reduction is only on the order of 2%, a point that is often missed by the person being treated. (ibid)

Several studies have suggested no link between cholesterol levels and heart attacks i.e. many who have heart attacks, HAVE NORMAL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS.  (The disclaimer for the Lipitor TV commercial states that Lipitor has NOT been proven effective at preventing heart attack.)

Also what we've heard i.e. that Statin drugs prevent heart attacks by reducing "inflammation" (one theory is that heart attacks are partially caused by inflammation) has been debunked by several studies including the MS studies on two of the Statin drugs - they found that while the Statin drugs suppressed the immune system, they also suppressed proteins that protect people against inflammation and autoimmune attacks specifically the protein "interleukin-10" (International Immunopharmacology, 2009;9:153-7)

The pharmaceutical companies have detailed profiles on what drugs doctors are prescribing and sometimes have been known to reward them for prescribing certain medications.

British medical providers are apparently less prone to prescribe Statin drugs to those who have not had heart attacks.  To overcome this, some of the pharmaceutical companies will begin to offer Statin drugs "over the counter" hoping to get more customers from the healthy population.

There are many studies on the cholesterol lowering medications: See Stopped Our Statins website  - very enlightening.

CoEnzyme Q10 suppressed by statin drugs (1), (3)

Coenzyme Q10 is found naturally in the body. Lower blood levels of this coenzyme have been found in individuals with certain types of cancer.

Coenzyme Q10 was first identified in 1957. Its chemical structure was determined in 1958. Interest in coenzyme Q10 as a potential treatment for cancer began in 1961, when a deficiency of the enzyme was noted in the blood of cancer patients. Low blood levels of coenzyme Q10 have been found in patients with myeloma, lymphoma, and cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, pancreas, colon, kidney, and head and neck.

While coenzyme Q10 may show indirect anticancer activity through its effect(s) on the immune system, there is evidence to suggest that analogs of this compound can suppress cancer growth directly. Analogs of coenzyme Q10 have been shown to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells in vitro and the growth of cancer cells transplanted into rats and mice.

Certain lipid-lowering drugs, such as the "statins" (Lovastatin, Pravastatin, and Simvastatin) and Gemfibrozil, as well as oral agents that lower blood sugar, such as glyburide and tolazamide), cause a decrease in serum levels of coenzyme Q10 and reduce the effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation (3)

The lowered levels of Coenzyme Q10 may be a major factor in the Statins being a contributing factor to cancers.

Higher Risk of Brain Bleed

Lipitor has been observed to raise the risk for brain bleeds (hemorrhagic stroke) - There is a 20% survival rate from this type of brain bleed. Even if the risk is small, taking this risk may be like playing Russian Roulette. (6)

Statin induced Cardiomypathy

"I see 2-3 cases of Statin induced cardiomyopathy a week" states the cardiologist whose paper is up on the FDA website.  Dr Langsjoen feels this is due to a shortage in CoEnzyme Q10 which is caused by the statin drugs.  As he explains there is a slight advantage to these drugs in heart patients as they have some anti-inflammatory effects but the side effects far outweigh the slight advantage. (4)

Zocor tested as immuno-suppressant by the MS Society (2003-2011)

"Oral drugs used to lower cholesterol, called statins, were shown in test tubes to INHIBIT IMMUNE RESPONSES of cells taken from individuals with MS. This study was previously reported by Dr Oliver Newhaus (Karl-Franzens-University at Graz, Austria) and colleagues at the April 2002 meeting of the American academy of Neurology, and now has been published in the October 8, 2002 issue of Neurology."

"Although Statins were shown capable of INHIBITING SEVERAL DIFFERENT IMMUNE RESPONSES and markers of inflammations typically involved in MS, THEY ALSO STIMULATED THE RELEASE OF SOME PROTEINS KNOWN TO **INCREASE** inflammation."

"Clinical trials will be necessary to determine whether statin drugs may benefit individuals with MS. There is already one small-scale trial of ZOCOR under way in 32 people who have relapsing-remitting MS. This trial is taking place at the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston), in Yale University (New Haven, CT) and at the U of Colorado Health Sciences Center (Denver). Other studies are under consideration at this time."

Source: "MS Connection", Fall 2002

By 2011, several studies had been done on Zocor with some positive results as a result of suppressing the immune system (with Zocor) (5)

Higher incidence of cancer in those taking statin drugs (2-2003)

A trial which randomized over 5000 at risk elderly patients over a 3 year period (double blind, placebo controlled) showed a 25 percent greater incidence of cancer in those patients taking Pravacol (Pravastatin).

The researcher called this "probably chance" since the statin drugs are "so safe" (?) a conclusion I find it difficult to understand - all the rat trials showed a high incidence of cancer, so this increased incidence in the trial seems a no brainer to me! A physician not a part of the research did say that they should "watch" and see if this shows up again. (Obviously he didn't quite buy the "chance" theory!) :)

Dr James Shephard - study reported at opening session of the American Heart Assoc, 2003
source: "Internal Medicine News" - Vol 36, no. 3, Feb 1, 2003 (newspaper for physicians)

NO DIFFERENCE in mortality rates from heart attacks

JAMA; Chicago; Dec 18, 2002; Curt D Furberg; Jackson T Wright Jr; Barry R Davis; Jeffrey A Cutler; et al;

The Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume: 288, Issue: 23

Conclusions Pravastatin did not reduce either all-cause mortality or CHD significantly when compared with usual care in older participants with well-controlled hypertension and moderately elevated LDL-C. The results may be due to the modest differential in total cholesterol (9.6%) and LDL-C (16.7%) between pravastatin and usual care compared with prior statin trials supporting cardiovascular disease prevention.

This study showed a slightly higher number of cancer deaths in the Prevastatin patients (163) as compared to those not taking the drug. Also, there was a higher incidence of those who came down with cancer in the statin group (but did not die from it).

Got lung cancer?

One website owner felt he got lung cancer from Lipitor and he also included a link to an AMA article showing for one thing that ALL the Statins caused cancer in the rats, even in doses similar to what is given to humans. The article writer pointed out that since there may be a span of 20 years between starting the drug and the side effect of cancer, it's hard to pinpoint it as a risk. However, the author believes the Statin medication he took was a factor in his cancer. (His website is down - he may succumbed to lung cancer.)


1. Statins and Myoglobin (article by an MIT research scientist - well cited)
2. Stopped Our Statins website - a lot of research presented
3. Cancer.gov info website
4. Statin Induced cardiomyopathy
5. MS society studies on Zocor to suppress the immune system
6. Lipitor warnings PDF