The trials that a new drug goes through can only achieve limited testing, and, almost always, the tests used to evaluate the side effects of a drug are too short, due to expediency and cost. It is only once a drug is unleashed upon the real world, and enough time passes, that we learn how its toxic effects can manifest themselves after years of treatment. Fortunately, the Web holds the key to answers obtained by millions of patients who have unwittingly offered themselves up as guinea pigs in the experiment of living long-term with a given drug.
Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of a biological wonder drug, namely cholesterol. Repeatedly, retrospective studies have shown an alleged benefit for statins which is actually a benefit derived from the many years of high cholesterol that preceded statin treatment. This game has been played out for sepsis, pneumonia, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer's, and these are just the ones I'm aware of. When the proper placebo-controlled study is done, the effect reverses -- statins make the situation worse. But these negative results are kept well concealed from the public's eyes. This is how the myth has been kept alive that statins, instead of cholesterol, are the wonder drug.
Below are thirteen links to Web sites that contain useful information about statin drugs and cholesterol. Spend some time following these links, and then you will be better informed to decide for yourself whether or not to take a statin drug.
The People's Pharmacy is a wonderful forum to allow patients to share their experience. This is one of many examples of adverse side effects of statin drugs available on that site.
Like thalidomide, statin drugs are a class X drug with regard to pregnancy. They can cause significant damage to the nervous system of a developing embryo.
This article points out some of the severe side effects statins can cause, and illustrates with a poignant story about a woman from Kansas. She had been taking a statin for years to reduce her cholesterol. Over that same time period, she experienced chronic muscle pain which neither she nor her doctor attributed to the statin therapy. It even led to a useless shoulder operation. Her problem eventually escalated into skin lesions caused by a reaction to toxic protein by-products released by her disintegrating muscles. She was given an antifungal to treat the skin lesions, another misdiagnosis. But the antifungal interacted with the statins to further increase the severity of her muscle disorders. Three months later, she could barely stand, and her pulmonary muscles were so weak she couldn't breathe. She died shortly thereafter.
The statin industry continues to claim that statins protect against sepsis, because of several retrospective studies that show that those who take statins have less risk than those who don't. What these studies are proving is that cholesterol protects from sepsis. The media keep saying that what is needed is a double-blind placebo controlled study, but they already have one they could talk about. It's just that you can't find out anything about it except that it was completed in January, 2008. You can read my take on statins and sepsis here
Just as for sepsis, the statin industry likes to claim that statins improve your chances against pneumonia. But a double-blind placebo controlled study proved them wrong. The risk for pneumonia that required hospitalization was increased by 61% in the statin group compared to the controls.
This relatively benign article in WebMD provoked a firestorm of responses; each comment tells the story of another tragedy unfolding.
Here's a typical comment from that site: "I was prescribed Crestor 20mg 2 weeks ago with cholesterol level 7.6. First time on any medication. After approx. 4 days I started to experience severe muscle pain, thigh, buttocks, arms, legs to the extent that I can hardly get out of bed in the morning. Have been back to Dr. who advised stopping tablets. Have been off them for 3 days, very little difference. I am hoping these pains will go away soon. I will never take a statin drug again - would rather take the healthy option, diet and exercise and take the risk. Have never felt so bad. Usually very healthy, fit person."
To understand the biological mechanism behind the process by which statin drugs destroy muscles, click here .
Dr. Peter Langsjoen believes that statin drugs are greatly increasing the risk of heart failure. I have argued why this might be true here. here
The JUPITER trial, which was terminated prematurely after less than two years, was widely heralded for showing that statins reduce the risk of heart attacks in the short term for people with high levels of C-reactive Protein but without high cholesterol. However, little note was made of the fact that the JUPITER trial also showed a 25% increased risk to new-onset diabetes in the treatment group. Since diabetes is a strong risk factor for heart disease, one wonders how the trial would have turned out if it had been allowed to run to completion.
This is the article that inspired the Newsweek article, #13 below, with the lead story that statins "protect from" Alzheimer's -- which is the exact opposite of the truth about statins and Alzheimer's.
The only relationship between high cholesterol and Alzheimer's the authors could find was if they looked back thirty years. What they're not saying is that, in the intervening years, cholesterol levels fell for those who later developed Alzheimer's. While no one has said exactly why their levels might have fallen, statin drugs are a good bet.
Here's the only thing that the article above has to say about statin drugs: "Information on lipid-lowering treatments, which have been suggested to decrease dementia risk, was not available for this study." You can be sure that, if there was any inkling that the statins might have helped, these researchers would have been allowed access to those statin treatment data.
Here's all you can find out about this placebo-controlled study on statins and Alzheimer's, referenced in the Newsweek article in #13 below.
Mary Sano, "Alzheimer's and Dementia", "S5-01-05: Multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Simvastatin to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease," Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, Volume 4, Issue 4, Supplement 1, July 2008, Page T200
I can't give you a pointer to the article, because it's only accessible through ScienceDirect. However, you can cut and paste this doi into a search engine and then click on the returned result:
But you'll be disappointed in how little you learn -- no news blitz for this result! Not even an abstract is available in the public domain!
You can read my essay on statins and Alzheimer's to learn why statins would likely cause Alzheimer's.
This article illustrates how thoroughly the statin industry has succeeded in brainwashing the media into believing that black is white. The lead story is that statins protect against Alzheimer's. If you have read my essay on statins and Alzheimer's, you will think otherwise.
The only two placebo-controlled studies mentioned in that article were "underway" at the time. One of these studies is #12 above on statins and Alzheimer's-- the media have nothing to say about it, now that it's done. I wonder why?? The other one, on multiple scerosis, failed , due to the fact that they couldn't get enough people to agree to participate. I think people with multiple sclerosis were wise to stay away from it. Here's an article that shows that statins increase damage in multiple sclerosis.
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