Statins – Friend or Foe?

The Cholesterol Hypothesis states that “If you eat too much food containing cholesterol the blood levels will rise causing thickening of arteries which in time will lead to heart attack.”

Early use of statins actually caused more deaths than before but as the drug companies came to realise the value of this new drug they started to push it more and more and made sure that the research fitted the hypothesis.

It should be no surprise that the commonest cause of heart attack is still STRESS! So control of cholesterol won’t change that. Statins do not protect the heart by lowering cholesterol – they work in another way. The amount of protection they provide is so small it is not really worth worrying about. Recent research has also shown that heart disease is more affected by rising levels of an amino acid called homocysteine which can be controlled by taking Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid.

Most of the hype has been generated by the drug companies, who run most of the trials, and employ most of the big noises in the industry. Heard that one before? Atorvastatin grosses over £6 billion per annum!

“Cholesterol is a fat that is used as a building block in nearly every system in the body” Brain synapses, Vitamin D, cell membranes, sex hormones and bile – to mention the most important. So you need it!

A high fat content diet appears to have no significant effect on cholesterol levels. Animal fat and high cholesterol have no role in heart disease. In fact it seems that lower cholesterol levels are actually related to higher mortality rates as we get older!

 To keep you quiet they confuse you more by stating there are 2 types of cholesterol; good and bad.There are actually at least 4 types but let us stay with HDL and LDL. Total cholesterol levels are about 6.1mmol/l in the UK made up of 1.3mmol/l HDL and 3.5mmol/l of LDL – the rest is made up of the others! So it is an exact science!

Statins lower cholesterol synthesis in the liver which makes it pull LDL out of the blood. But it is not the cholesterol levels that save your heart, it might be another effect of the statins though. Oddly all the research regarding stroke states there is no connection between high cholesterol levels and stroke and yet there is for heart attack and yet they are both a form of arterial disease.

It is now well known that high doses (80mg) of statins are potentially causing patients muscle problems and there are known interactions with some drugs; calcium channel blockers for hypertension, antifungal medications, some antibiotics and some anti- depressants.

If you feel you must take statins you should make sure you are on the lowest dose possible and that the type you are on does not interact with any other medication. Shop around is the best advice.




Suzanne G. Leveille, Ph.D., R.N., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and University of Massachusetts-Boston; Colin Milner, CEO, International Council on Active Aging, Vancouver, B.C., Canada; Nov. 25, 2009, Journal of the American Medical Association