Okay, so that is not exactly what this recent study said, but it may as well be. The actual title of the study is “Statins stimulate atherosclerosis and heart failure”. In English that translates into, “take Lipitor and you will harden your arteries and destroy your heart.”
Wait a minute, I thought cholesterol lowering medications were supposed to save your heart?! Let’s dig into this a little deeper (and I apologies for the sciency nature of this, but if you can save a loved one for me, it’s worth it.)
Statin drugs, aka cholesterol lowering medications, have been the “thing” in medicine for a long time now. Despite the fact that cholesterol has basically been vindicated as the cause of heart disease, doctors still give out statin drugs like they are candy. (And if you think cholesterol is the cause of heart disease, you may as well say firefighters are the cause of fires just because they are there – but sorry, that’s not how it works.)
I don’t expect many to be able to work their way through this study in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, so I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version. Here’s how stain, cholesterol lowering drugs, can cause problems:
- They clog your pipes. You may not have heard of vitamin K, but you will. It is crazy important for a number of things in the body but specifically, vitamin K deficiency has been correlated with increased atherosclerosis. In other words, vitamin K helps put calcium where it needs to be and if it is low, calcium can get deposited in your arteries. Statins lower vitamin K. In English this means, the lower your vitamin K levels, the more plaque your arteries have, and statins lower vitamin K levels. Sweet, sign me up.
- They shut off your energy. Not sure if you remember the word “mitochondria” from high school biology, but perhaps “powerhouse of the cell” rings a bell. Imagine your mitochondria as the electricity for your house. No electricity = no energy and thus no livable house. Statins cause mitochondrial damage which means if your house was your heart, it wouldn’t work very well.
- They kill the delivery boy. Your blood cells deliver oxygen to the cells of your body, including your heart. And like you, without oxygen, things don’t work well. Statins kill the delivery boy – Heme A – which helps carry oxygen to the cells of your body. Again, statins are sounding worse and worse. At this point I’ll take my chances with high cholesterol.
- They blow a fuse. You know when you blow dry your hair and it kills the power in the west end of your house? Statins have been shown to blow an important fuse in your mitochondria, the energy producers in your body and your heart. Specifically it is called Coenzyme Q10, otherwise known as CoQ10. This vitamin is used in your mitochonidra and without it, you cannot make energy to run your heart cells.
- Kills the bulldog. If all that weren’t enough, statins apparently reduce your ability to protect yourself. More specifically, statins reduce your body’s ability to use selenium, a important little nutrient, that helps you protect your cells of the body with antioxidants. Less antioxidants, less protection. Less protection, more damage. More damage . . . well, you get the point – not good for your heart.
Statin medications for high cholesterol have been questionable for a long time, but studies like this, though missed by the public media, are huge in demonstrating how horrible some drugs can be. Again, with all these horrible side effects, I’d rather take my chances with high cholesterol. And cholesterol isn’t even the cause of heart disease in the first place.