FDA recently admitted to two more dangers associated with use of statin drugs. Diabetes and memory loss. Initially prescribed for the high risk only, twenty years later over 20 million Americans use statins. The pharmaceutical companies have raked in over 200 billion dollars. Now statins are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the US. Still, pharmaceutical companies are pushing to have them prescribed to healthy individuals, even children on the basis of heart disease “prevention.”
Statins profoundly interfere with the bodies ability to syntheize a very important enzyme called Co enzyme Q10.  CoQ10 is imperative to mitochondrial function of every cell. CoQ10’s most critical role is to create and protect energy within the cells of the heart, brain and skeletal muscles. Healthy individuals naturally produce CoQ10. Production peaks in your 20’s and declines thereafter. The heart tissue has the highest concentrations and greatest requirements of CoQ10 in the body. Ironic that a drug on the market for heart health could be a potential factor in heart failure. In 2004, in an effort to highlight the side effects of statins, Dr. Julian Whitaker MD proposed to the FDA that the package insert supplied with a statin drug contain information that statin drugs decrease the levels of the critical nutrient CoQ 10 in patients. He wisely suggested, that all patients taking statin drugs should also be taking 200 mg. of CoQ 10. The FDA ignored Dr. Whitaker’s suggestion because admitting that there was a danger from statin drugs, even if true, might hurt the sales of statin drugs.  Although I agree adding a synthetic CoQ10 was prudent, it was not optimal because it would lack the synergy action of natural substances. Nonetheless, helpful it would have been. Also the inhibition of CoQ10 cannot really be called a ‘side effect’ because an inherent intended function of statins is the inhibition of CoQ10 as it synthesizes cholesterol as well.
Transient Global Amnesia-TGA This interesting neurological disorder causes patients to have a total loss of memory for several hours. During these episodes the person does not know who he is, what they are doing and often has a complete loss of memory about their past history. Recently it has been discovered that many persons taking statin drugs have experienced TGA. I once had a tax client who had suffered a couple of very scary bouts of TGA, who I knew to be on Lipitor(prescriptions are a write off). Doctors were unable to give him any explanations of cause. I have since lost track of him. I have also provided my readers a link to a NASA astronaut’s experience with Lipotor and TGA. link . Similar stories could fill volumes yet the FDA downplays this connection as randomly insignificant.
Obesity- Low CoQ10 have been found in over half obese subjects in one study. With a low calorie diet in place, subjects with low CoQ10 were compared to subjects with normal CoQ10. The people with the normal CoQ10 loss over twice as much weight.
Diabetes- CoQ10 appears to be beneficial in glucose uptake to the cells. Glucose uptake is a function making energy available to the cells. CoQ10 is also an essential component of the mitochondria (the “power-house” of the cell), playing a critical role in the formation of ATP, the body’s fundamental energy unit, from carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism.
Heart Disease- such as angina, stroke, cardiomyopathy (reduction of contraction muscle of the heart. Deficiency of CoQ10 is often found in the blood of cardio tissue of this patients.
Other conditions known to be effected by low CoQ10, confusion, peridiontal disease, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, forgetfulness, congestive heart failure, muscle weakness, liver abnormalities, and cancer. Just to name a few.
Pharmaceutical companies will continue to represent cholesterol as the leading catastrophic culprit to heart disease. And although it is a factor, in one of many prominent studies Dr. Harlan Krumholz revealed that cholesterol is not a major factor in arterial disease, that persons with low cholesterol levels over the age of 70 died twice as often from heart attacks; almost all studies have shown that cholesterol is not a factor for heart attack in women and in fact less than 5% of people with heart attack are cholesterol related. Measuring homocysteine(amino acid)in the blood will frequently provide clear evidence that homocysteine is causing the problem, not cholesterol.(homocysteine will be another blog)
As the pharmaceutical companies continue to vilify and lower the “safe limits” for cholesterol the innate benefits of this lipid will be buried. Cholesterol is of enormous importance in the production of cell membranes, hormones, (all the sex ones) vitamin D and bile acids. The body uses cholesterol in the production of bile acids. Bile acids are excreted daily. The consumption of water-soluble fiber binds to bile acids, thus linking a high-fiber diet to an increased excretion of cholesterol.
There are two ways your body gets cholesterol. By far the main way is your liver makes it. The second way is some other animal’s liver made it and now you eat that animal. That is dietary cholesterol known as saturated fat. Studies have shown that increasing fiber is much more effective than reducing dietary fat when lowering excess cholesterol.
Six months after my dad had moved in with us, I had his cholesterol tested. Being a naturopath, I of course had taken him off lipotor when he moved in. Upon testing, cholesterol had dropped significantly. At my home we eat saturated fat. But we also eat whole organic unprocessed unaltered food 99% of the time.
But back to CoQ10, NO cell in the body remains alive without it. The ramifications of statins interfering with the production of CoQ10 is insurmountable. Even with the new warnings these cholesterol lowering drugs will continue to soar. Cynically I say the drug companies just have too much at stake here to let anything get in the way of their statin sales.
Ottoboni, Alice,PHD.(2004)The Modern Nutritional Diseases.