Statins Accelerate the onset of Arthritis (in mice)?
Can statins accelerate arthritis? On a family reunion, I noted one of my older brothers had severe knee arthritis and it was obvious that he needed a knee replacement (or a shot of his own stem cells). While he is heavier, less active, and has had several surgeries, I couldn’t help wonder if his lifelong statin use has had some impact. This was based on our years of experience showing that statins harmed stem cells in culture and my investigations into statins ever since. That’s why I wasn’t at all surprised to see this headline yesterday, showing that statins did have a negative impact on cartilage. In essence, statins in this animal model caused the immune system to attack the collagen components of cartilage, breaking it down even quicker. This is much like the immune system attacks that statins can initiate against muscles. In addition, this same group of authors has also shown that statin use is associated with a greater chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis. The upshot? Whether this effect gets confirmed by more research remains to be seen. In the meantime, we recommend that patients discontinue statin use when considering any type of orthopedic stem cell procedure. While this is a only single animal study, based on their results combined with 6 years of experience with statins and stem cells in culture and given the tiny benefit of these drugs, any patient with arthritis should likely take a harder look at diet and exercise as an alternative to statins. As I’ve blogged before, chocolate seems to have similar health benefits to statins and I have yet to see a chocolate-arthritis link! In addition, thankfully chocolate won’t impair your memory, cause fatigue by harming your mitochondria, attack your muscles, or cause diabetes (at least not if you stick to small amounts of dark chocolate).