The Devil’s Pills: Statins and their horrible side effects

A bit of an exaggeration, calling statins the devil’s pills, no?  Actually, that was what my mother considered them for the seven years she was on simvastatin Zucor, taking 10 mg of those hated pills diligently and daily, because that is what her doctor ordered.

Taking those pills impacted her physical and mental health to a degree we never though possible…I wrote about it here.

Over the span of those seven years, she suffered pain in her legs and hands.  At times it got so bad she couldn’t get up from the sofa without help, or she couldn’t go up the stairs without using both hands and feet.  We would badger her to exercise and she would complain of pain in her legs…we all dismissed her complaints as her just being mom, to our eternal shame.  Her nights were often fitfully spent cause the pain in her legs and the tingling in her hands wouldn’t allow her to sleep.

And then early last year, she started to lose her memory despite being only in her 50s and being descended from long-lived lines, on both sides, that have absolutely no history of Alzheimer’s at all.

Her condition, plus my growing realization of the strong links between diet and rampant Western diseases, gave me the double motivation to look more into her scary symptoms.

This is what I discovered.

– Statins are the best-selling medicines in all of human history, selling over $28 billion in sales in 2006.  Huge profits for the pharmaceutical industry.

– The director of the Canadian government-run Therapeutics Initiatives which measures and figures out how different drugs work, put out a well researched study that indicated statins only work on men who have had actual heart attacks.  It does not work on men over 65, men under 65 who haven’t had heart attacks and all populations of women.

This quote taken from Businessweek, which did a surprisingly stellar job reporting on the dubious benefits of statins in a 2008 report, illustrates why the myth of statins being a super wonder drug was pushed on us.

The drug business is, after all, a business. Companies are supposed to boost sales and returns to shareholders. The problem they face, though, is that many drugs are most effective in relatively small subgroups of sufferers. With statins, these are the patients who already have heart disease. But that’s not a blockbuster market. So companies have every incentive to market their drugs as being essential for wider groups of people, for whom the benefits are, by definition, smaller

And the absolute capture of the noble practice of medicine by the pharmaceutical industry is illustrated by this quote from the same article…

Drugmakers…make sure that the researchers and doctors who extol the benefits of medications are well compensated. “It’s almost impossible to find someone who believes strongly in statins who does not get a lot of money from industry,” says Dr. Rodney A. Hayward, professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School

The combination of huge marketing budgets for statins and the capture of the medical profession by pharmaceutical industry gave statins the aura of a wonder-dug and contributed to its status as the best-selling drug in all of human history.

But thanks to the Internet, the truth began to seep out from all sources: doctors with integrity, patients, all of them talking about the scary under-reported side effects of this supposed wonder-drug and the highly overstated so-called benefits.

Severe side effects like elevated blood sugar, muscular degeneration, and cognitive dysfunction.  My mother suffered from these side effects, except for the first one as her diabetes pre-existed her cholesterol medication.

Why such severe side-effects?

It’s cause the brain needs cholesterol to function optimally and statins inhibit the cholesterol synthesis, affecting an organ that uses 25% of the cholesterol produced in our bodies.   Our brain needs cholesterol and when it’s deprived, it starts to undergo cognitive dysfunction like memory loss.  Statins also inhibits the synthesis of an enzyme, CoQ10, which is found in mitochondria (the power-house of the cell) and its depletion in people who undergo statin treatment is a major reason of muscle pain.

The reason for the existence of cholesterol medication is because of the assumption that high fat/high cholesterol diets lead to cardio-vascular disease as per the lipid hypothesis touted and made famous by Ancel Keys.

Statins mainly worked on populations who had heart attacks as a means of reducing inflammatory properties.  Essentially, the main benefit of statins is that they are anti-inflammatory.

Guess what else is anti-inflammatory but without adverse effects?  A diet free of inflammation-causing foods like grains, sugar,  industrial oils and anything processed.

Finally, earlier this year the FDA managed to loosen the grip of the pharmaceutical industry on its throat and actually added warnings to statin labels about risks for memory loss and elevated blood sugar.  And all this for a drug that the majority of recipients DON’T have to take!!!

The FDA was a little gentle on the pharmas by stating that stopping taking the statins reverses dangerous side effects like memory loss.  It often does but read the comments sections of articles to do with statins and early-onset Alzheimer’s and you’ll see how the damage done by these drugs are sometimes too extensive for a complete reversal to occur.

In follow-up posts I’ll address how we managed to completely reverse my mother’s early-onset memory loss and set her on the path to good health.

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7 thoughts on “The Devil’s Pills: Statins and their horrible side effects

    • Protein is satiating, for sure. Carbs raise a person’s blood sugar and then insulin is released to push it down. It’s when your blood sugar falls that you get hungry. This is why people snack so often when they eat a low-fat diet (that is often meat free as well). You get hungry every couple of hours. If i eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast I’m hungry three hours later. If I eat steak and eggs slathered in butter, I’m good to go til the next morning!

  1. Hey Sophia I remember our talk on Alee’s board about paleo and I have been trying to do it especially at breakfast. I notice when I eat eggs and sausage for breakfast I tend to not get hungry and have to make myself go to lunch. My blood sugars also drop at least 40 to 50 points 2 hours after eating. I am trying to implement this for lunch and dinner. I started with breakfast because i tend to crave carby foods upon wakening.

  2. I have to admit that I sold statins for a long time. Thankfully, I haven’t had to take any. I think there is a place for them as many North Americans would really be having heart attacks nad strokes left and right due to improper diets and lack of exercise in North America. The sad part is a doctor HAS TO prescribe statins to any patients whose cholestoral levels require it. if he or she doesn’t and their patient has a heart attack or stroke and records are checked and there was no paper trail for the doc having prescribed a statin, they could be sued and in some cases lose thier license.

    The docs (many) are also advising htier patients that they need to change thier diets and warning htem ahead of time before they have to start them on statins. So its ultimatley in the individuals hands on whether they want to be on stains or not.

    That is the tricky part where docs hands are tied. Also, with all statins, pharma reps who sell them are always talking dietary changes FIRST and if the patient fails to change thier diet then the stains need to come into play.

    People can lower thier cholesterol by simply changing htier diet and exercising, but many people don’t do that and therefore, the docs and pharma companies come in here to help control as much of thier cholesterol levels as possible.

    A lot of people always blame hte pharma companies, but they are making a drug as a secondary go to if people themselves don’t work at chaniging thier health.

    • I really appreciate your point of view Neecy. You shed light on an important aspect of this topic, and that’s the fact that doctors MUST prescribe statins or else they will be in violation of their board’s standard of care, leading to malpractice suits and a whole world of pain.
      I mentioned in another post or comment the capture of the practice of medicine by the pharmaceuticals and one result of that is the lack of independence doctors have in applying ethical care to their patients. As for pharmaceuticals recommending diet, it really doesn’t seem to work. Mainly because the “lipid hypothesis” which presumes that fat and cholesterol are bad for you, leading to heart disease, is getting more and more disproven every day. There are more illnesses that result from lack of good fats than not. Low cholesterol leads to depression, Alzheimer’s, MS and various neurological disorders.
      Furthermore, In the 1970s, doctors worried about your cholesterol only if your TC (total cholesterol) was above 300. In the 1980s it was if your TC was above 250. Now they worry if it’s above 200. They’re considering lowering it to 180. The main beneficiary of the lowering of TC are the pharmaceuticals as lowering the threshold simply expands their market. It’s a business strategy, not a medical concern.
      Lastly, the diet that doctors recommend to their patients in order to curb their cholesterol, the standard low-fat, low-calorie, high-carb diet, is unsustainable and tends to worsens the condition.

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