If you’ve never heard of the commonly used pharmaceutical drug “Statin,” it’s basically a prescription used to decrease “bad” cholesterol levels. It’s common for people with heart disease to take them, despite the fact that half of all heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels.
In reality, cholesterol doesn’t necessarily cause heart disease. The French have the highest average cholesterol in all of Europe (approximately 250), yet they have the lowest number of people with heart disease and only experience about half the amount of heart attacks that Americans do. This is where the cholesterol myth comes into play, a belief system that’s perpetuated by Big Pharma. How else would they be able to convince 20 millions Americans to take Statins to lower their cholesterol?
How Does the “Cholesterol Myth” Relate to Heart Disease?
MIT Scientist Raymond Francis answers this question in his paper titled “The Cholesterol Myth,” arguing that “the answer is a story involving the triumph of money and power over science.”
Francis goes on to explain:
Atherosclerosis—the main cause of heart attacks and strokes—is the accumulation of fatty plaque inside the walls of major arteries. As the disease progresses, arteries become increasingly narrow, making it easier for a blood clot or piece of dislodged plaque to completely block blood flow, resulting in either a heart attack or a stroke. When cholesterol was found to be a major component of arterial plaque, the “cholesterol theory of heart disease” was born, thinking that high cholesterol levels cause atherosclerosis. The truth, however, is not so simple. Cholesterol is an anti¬oxidant, a repair and healing molecule. The body produces more of it in response to stress and tissue damage, when repair and healing are needed. Remove the causes of the body’s distress, like inflammation and oxidation, and you lower cholesterol. It turned out that blaming cholesterol for heart disease makes as much sense as blaming the Red Cross for the disasters it responds to.
Drug companies took advantage of this theory, investing millions in R&D into cholesterol lowering drugs, and so Statins were created. As many of you know, Big Pharma plays a huge role in manipulating and writing legislation, and creates much of the scientific literature and knowledge taught in medical schools. They’re in the ears of doctors, and then they make their way into their pockets as well. Doctors are actually paid to prescribe us more drugs, and you can even discover how much your specific doctor makes here.
Statins are also heavily advertised in the media, which plays a key role in over-diagnosis in North America. Keep in mind that advertising for prescription drugs is illegal in most other parts of the world. In regards to Statins, one study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that people who watched ads for this specific cholesterol drug were 16-22% more likely to take Statins as well as 16-20% more likely to be diagnosed with high cholesterol.
The authors of this particular study concluded, “Our findings raise questions about the extent to which direct-to-consumer advertising may promote over-diagnosis and over-treatment for populations where risks may outweigh potential benefits. In addition, we found no evidence of favorable associations between exposure to statins in television advertisements and statin use among those at high risk for future cardiac events.”
Not only are Statins unnecessary for many of the people who take them, but they pose numerous health risks as well. A new study conducted by Penn State College found a correlation between use of Statins and increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Statins May Increase Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
The researchers in this Penn State study analyzed data from a database of over 50 million people, 22,000 of whom had Parkinson’s disease. Of that sample, they reduced it to 2,322 patients with new diagnoses of Parkinson’s. Then, they paired each person within the sample size to another individual without Parkinson’s, and those people made up the control group.
Researchers then established which patients had been taking Statins and how long they’d been taking them for before they developed Parkinson’s symptoms. Their findings suggested that prior Statin use resulted in a higher risk of Parkinson’s and, interestingly enough, “was more noticeable during the start of the drug use.”
“Statin use was associated with higher, not lower, Parkinson’s disease risk, and the association was more noticeable for lipophilic statins, an observation inconsistent with the current hypothesis that these statins protect nerve cells,” explained one of the researchers, Xuemei Huang, Ph.D.. “In addition, this association was most robust for use of statins less than two-and-a-half years, suggesting that statins may facilitate the onset of Parkinson’s disease.”
Other Health Issues Related to Statins
It’s not just Parkinson’s that relates to Statins, either. These drugs can have a whirlwind of side effects and increase one’s risk of developing a number of different diseases. Since Statins block the body’s production of CoQ10, taking Statins can result in fatal muscle inflammation as well as congestive heart failure (which is ironic given that many heart disease patients take them).
Another study published in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology revealed that, despite Statin drugs being marketed for their ability to decrease the artery disease called atherosclerosis, they may actually stimulate it and cause heart failure.
Another study published in the American Journal of Physiology found that some of the effects of Statins advance the process of aging, and pointed out that long term use of Statins have been associated with several adverse health effects including myopathy (skeletal muscle weakness), neurological issues, and an increased risk of diabetes.
The researchers stated: “In addition, considering their possible side effects, long-term adherence to statin treatment poses a potential risk, especially among individuals without cardiovascular disease. The primary use of statins should be critically assessed, especially when considering the potential risks associated with statin use.”
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Other cognitive issues caused by Statins include temporary amnesia, and even Alzheimer’s. Statins can also cause cognitive decline in general as well as heightened anxiety, depression, and violence. Lastly, Statins have even been linked to liver damage, immunity issues, cancer, cataracts, and birth defects if taken by women (source).
It’s clear that the risks of Statins outweigh the benefits in many cases, and if you or a loved one is taking Statins, then you should consider asking your doctor about other alternatives immediately.
If you’re interested in learning more, here are some other CE articles on Statins:
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