New Bombshell of Disastrous Side Effects from Statins…

Posted By Dr. Mercola | June 12 2010 | 14,337 views

statinsDoctors are being warned to think more carefully about prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs by researchers who have found a wide range of "unintended" side effects.

Some doses and types of statins are linked with effects that include liver problems and kidney failure.

BBC News reports:

“Researchers looked at data from more than two million 30-84 year-olds from GP practices in England and Wales over a six-year period. Adverse effects identified in the study, published in the British Medical Journal, include liver problems, acute kidney failure, muscle weakness and cataracts.”

Sources:

BBC News May 20, 2010

‘Unintended’ statin side-effect risks uncovered

statins

Statins lower cholesterol

GPs should think more carefully about prescribing cholesterol-busting drugs say researchers who highlighted a range of "unintended" side effects.

Some doses and types of statins are linked with a greater risk of adverse effects, including liver problems and kidney failure, the UK research showed.

Doctors will have access to a computer program based on the findings to help spot those most at risk.

Millions of UK adults take the drugs to reduce heart attack and stroke risk.

The researchers, from the University of Nottingham, stressed that for many people the benefits of statins outweighed any adverse effects, but the findings would help weigh up the pros and cons in each patient.

For people with, or at high risk of heart disease, the benefits of statins far outweigh this risk

June Davison, British Heart Foundation

There are plans to prescribe statins on the NHS in around one in four adults aged over 40.

The Department of Health had predicted prescriptions for the drugs would rise by 30% a year, as GPs find more and more people eligible.

At the moment, anyone judged to have a one in five or greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease over 10 years is advised to take a statin.

But there has been much debate over side effects and the latest research set out to confirm where the problems may lie in a "real life" population.

Unintended effects

Researchers looked at data from more than two million 30-84 year-olds from GP practices in England and Wales over a six-year period.

Adverse effects identified in the study, published in the British Medical Journal, include liver problems, acute kidney failure, muscle weakness and cataracts.

For kidney failure and liver dysfunction, higher doses of the drugs seemed to be associated with greater risk.

Risks of side-effects were greatest in the first year of use.

On the positive side, the analysis also showed no significant association between the use of statins and the risk of Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, blood clot, dementia, osteoporotic fracture, or many cancers including gastric, colon, lung, renal, breast or prostate.

RISKS OF STATINS

For every 10,000 women treated with statins:

271 fewer cases of cardiovascular disease

8 fewer cases of oesophageal cancer

23 extra patients with acute kidney failure

73 extra patients with liver dysfunction

307 extra patients with cataracts

39 extra patients with muscle weakness

Figures were similar for men, except there would be 110 extra cases of muscle weakness

Study leader Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, who also works as a GP, said the computer programme they had devised meant GPs could work out which patients were most at risk of side-effects and whether their risk of heart disease was high enough to warrant them taking statins.

"People should be able to make an informed choice," she said.

"There are risks and benefits to all medicines, but if you have a patient at higher risk than average of something serious you might want to warn them to come back if they have problems."

June Davison, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "We already know that a small number of people taking statins experience unwanted side effects.

"However, for people with, or at high risk of heart disease, the benefits of statins far outweigh this risk.

"Anybody experiencing side effects while taking statins should speak to their doctor."

British Medical Journal May 20, 2010; 340:c2197

Unintended effects of statins in men and women in England and Wales: population based cohort study using the QResearch database.

Hippisley-Cox J, Coupland C.

Division of Primary Care, University Park, Nottingham NG2 7RD. julia.hippisley-cox@ntlworld.com

Comment in:

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To quantify the unintended effects of statins according to type, dose, and duration of use. DESIGN: Prospective open cohort study using routinely collected data. SETTING: 368 general practices in England and Wales supplying data to the QResearch database. PARTICIPANTS: 2 004 692 patients aged 30-84 years of whom 225 922 (10.7%) were new users of statins: 159 790 (70.7%) were prescribed simvastatin, 50 328 (22.3%) atorvastatin, 8103 (3.6%) pravastatin, 4497 (1.9%) rosuvastatin, and 3204 (1.4%) fluvastatin. METHODS: Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate effects of statin type, dose, and duration of use. The number needed to treat (NNT) or number needed to harm (NNH) was calculated and numbers of additional or fewer cases estimated for 10 000 treated patients. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: First recorded occurrence of cardiovascular disease, moderate or serious myopathic events, moderate or serious liver dysfunction, acute renal failure, venous thromboembolism, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, cataract, osteoporotic fracture, gastric cancer, oesophageal cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, renal cancer, breast cancer, or prostate cancer. RESULTS: Individual statins were not significantly associated with risk of Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, venous thromboembolism, dementia, osteoporotic fracture, gastric cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, renal cancer, breast cancer, or prostate cancer. Statin use was associated with decreased risks of oesophageal cancer but increased risks of moderate or serious liver dysfunction, acute renal failure, moderate or serious myopathy, and cataract. Adverse effects were similar across statin types for each outcome except liver dysfunction where risks were highest for fluvastatin. A dose-response effect was apparent for acute renal failure and liver dysfunction. All increased risks persisted during treatment and were highest in the first year. After stopping treatment the risk of cataract returned to normal within a year in men and women. Risk of oesophageal cancer returned to normal within a year in women and within 1-3 years in men. Risk of acute renal failure returned to normal within 1-3 years in men and women, and liver dysfunction within 1-3 years in women and from three years in men. Based on the 20% threshold for cardiovascular risk, for women the NNT with any statin to prevent one case of cardiovascular disease over five years was 37 (95% confidence interval 27 to 64) and for oesophageal cancer was 1266 (850 to 3460) and for men the respective values were 33 (24 to 57) and 1082 (711 to 2807). In women the NNH for an additional case of acute renal failure over five years was 434 (284 to 783), of moderate or severe myopathy was 259 (186 to 375), of moderate or severe liver dysfunction was 136 (109 to 175), and of cataract was 33 (28 to 38). Overall, the NNHs and NNTs for men were similar to those for women, except for myopathy where the NNH was 91 (74 to 112). CONCLUSIONS: Claims of unintended benefits of statins, except for oesophageal cancer, remain unsubstantiated, although potential adverse effects at population level were confirmed and quantified. Further studies are needed to develop utilities to individualise the risks so that patients at highest risk of adverse events can be monitored closely.

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

The fact that statin drugs cause side effects is well-established, and this latest study from the UK adds liver problems, acute kidney failure, muscle weakness and cataracts to the already fat list.

So Many People are Using Statins, it Boggles the Mind

In the UK, it won’t be long before one in four adults over the age of 40 are taking a statin drug, and physicians there have access to a computer program designed to analyze everyone within a 35-year age bracket to determine if they need to jump on the statin bandwagon.

Similarly, here in the United States the U.S. government’s National Cholesterol Education Program panel advised those at risk for heart disease to attempt to reduce their LDL (bad) cholesterol to specific, very low, levels back in 2004.

Before 2004, a 130-milligram LDL cholesterol level was considered healthy. The updated guidelines, however, recommended levels of less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at very high risk, which increased the market for statin drugs exponentially.

Researchers are also urging cholesterol screening for about one-third of teens who are overweight or obese, which will put many of these kids right in the line of fire to be prescribed a dangerous statin drug.

The drug companies even tried to claim that statins should be used to treat the swine flu last year, if you can believe that!

The “experts” like to argue that statins have few downsides, so why not try them, just in case?

Of course, those “few downsides” can include muscle pain and weakness, peripheral neuropathy, and heart failure. Not to mention the900 studies that show statin drugs are dangerous.

900, Yes 900, Studies Prove Statin Dangers

A paper published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs cites nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, also called statins.

Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs’ adverse side effects, but cognitive problems and pain or numbness in the extremities are also widely reported. A spectrum of other problems, ranging from blood glucose elevations to tendon problems, can also occur as side effects.

The problem, however, is the fact that statin drugs oftentimes do not have any immediate side effects, and they are quite effective, capable of lowering cholesterol levels by 50 points or more. This makes it appear as though they’re benefiting your health, and health problems that appear down the line are frequently not interpreted as a side effect of the drug, but rather as brand new, separate health problems.

For starters, some of the possible consequences of taking statins in strong doses, or for a lengthy period of time, include:

  • Cognitive loss
  • Neuropathy
  • Anemia
  • Acidosis
  • Frequent fevers
  • Cataracts
  • Sexual dysfunction

Other serious and potentially life threatening side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • An increase in cancer risk
  • Immune system suppression
  • Serious degenerative muscle tissue condition (rhabdomyolysis)
  • Pancreatic dysfunction
  • Hepatic dysfunction. (Due to the potential increase in liver enzymes, patients must be monitored for normal liver function)

Further, adverse effects are dose dependent, and your health risks can be amplified by a number of factors, such as taking other drugs (which may increase statin potency), metabolic syndrome or thyroid disease.

If You Take Statins, You Must Take CoQ10

If you take statin drugs without taking CoQ10, your health is at serious risk. Unfortunately, this describes the majority of people who take them in the United States.

There are no official warnings in the U.S. regarding CoQ10 depletion from taking statin drugs, and many physicians fail to inform you about this problem as well. Labeling in Canada, however, clearly warns of CoQ10 depletion and even notes that this nutrient deficiency“could lead to impaired cardiac function in patients with borderline congestive heart failure.”

Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant compound that is central to the process of energy production within your mitochondria, and in the quenching of free radicals.

Statins have been found to impair mitochondrial function, which leads to increased production of free radicals.

At the same time, statins also lower your CoQ10 levels by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production – the same pathway by which Q10 is produced. Statins also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports CoQ10 and other fat-soluble antioxidants.

The loss of CoQ10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage your mitochondrial DNA, effectively setting into motion an evil circle of increasing free radicals and mitochondrial damage.

This explains why statins are particularly dangerous if you have existing mitochondrial damage, as your body relies on ample CoQ10 to bypass this damage.

If you determine after reviewing the evidence that CoQ10 makes good sense to use as a supplement, it is important to take the reduced version if you are over 40 years old. This is called ubiquinol and it is FAR more effective. I personally take 1-3 a day as it has many other benefits.

High blood pressure and diabetes are linked to higher rates of mitochondrial problems, so if you have either of these conditions your risk of statin complications increases, according to the authors of this review.

Additionally, since statins can cause progressive damage to your mitochondria over time, and your mitochondria tend to weaken with age anyway, new adverse effects can develop the longer you’re on the drug.

Most People do Not Need Statin Drugs

That these drugs have proliferated the market the way they have is a testimony to the power of marketing, corruption and corporate greed, because the odds are very high, greater than 100 to 1, that anyone taking statin drugs does not need them.

The ONLY subgroup that MAY benefit are those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes them resistant to traditional measures to normalize cholesterol.

If your physician is urging you to get a total cholesterol level check — many do and will prescribe you a statin drug depending on its result — you should know that this test will tell you virtually nothing about your risk of heart disease — unless it is 330 or higher.

And, perhaps more importantly, you need to be aware that cholesterol is not the CAUSE of heart disease.

If you become overly concerned with trying to lower your cholesterol level to some set number, you will be completely missing the point, and may also be missing some important heart disease markers.

In fact, I have seen a number of people with levels over 250 who actually were at low heart disease risk due to their elevated HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen even more who had cholesterol levels under 200 that were at a very high risk of heart disease based on the following additional tests:

  • Your HDL/Cholesterol ratio
  • Your Triglyceride/HDL ratios

HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it’s a significant indicator of risk for heart disease.

You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2.

Optimizing Your Cholesterol Levels, Naturally

There’s really no reason to take statins and suffer the consequences from these dangerous drugs. When you follow the simple guidelines below, you will optimize your health in such a way that your cholesterol levels will naturally become optimized, without any side effects:

Unlike statin drugs, which lower your cholesterol at the expense of your health, these lifestyle strategies support your health on a body-wide basis, and your cholesterol levels will follow suit.

900 Studies Show Statin Drugs are Dangerous

statins, statin drugs, muscles, drugs, cholesterol, LDL, HDL

A new paper cites nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, also called statins, which are a class of drugs widely used to treat high cholesterol. The review provides the most complete picture to date of reported side effects of statins.

Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs’ adverse side effects, but cognitive problems and pain or numbness in the extremities are also widely reported. A spectrum of other problems, ranging from blood glucose elevations to tendon problems, can also occur as side effects.

The paper summarizes powerful evidence that statin-induced injury to the function of the body’s energy-producing cells, called mitochondria, underlies many of the adverse effects that occur to patients taking statin drugs. Statins lower levels of coenzyme Q10, a compound central to the processes of making energy within mitochondria and eliminating dangerous compounds called free radicals.

Higher statin doses and more powerful statins are linked to greater risk of developing side effects.

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