Why Statins are Really Bad for You

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As you know, we have seen statin cholesterol drugs do really bad things to stem cells in culture. On the other end of that spectrum, we’ve also seen high triglycerides due to metabolic syndrome hurt stem cells. One of our patients who was instructed to get off statin drugs before her stem cell procedure recently sent this article by MIT professor Dr. Stefanie Seneff, which is so well done and does such a great job of explaining why statins are bad for you, I had to share. It is also so scientifically dense; I thought a quick summary would be helpful for my readers.  Here goes:

  • Statins have tiny health benefits that are way over played. My comments-Basically, you get about the same cardiac protective effect from a square or two of dark chocolate a day. 
  • Stains decrease cholesterol by blocking an important enzyme pathway, yet cholesterol is needed for the normal health functioning of all cells. In particular, cholesterol is a key component of all healthy cell membranes.
  • Cholesterol is also needed to make vitamin D3, sex hormones, and steroid hormones.
  • The brain is only 2% of the body’s total weight, but houses 25% of the body’s cholesterol.
  • LDL cholesterol is what we have been trained to believe is “bad” cholesterol, when in fact it’s an important transport container for many key items.
  • The outer shell of the LDL transport container is vulnerable to attack by high blood sugars, so in patients with poor blood sugar control (metabolic syndrome) these important transport containers for key nutrients get gummed up by these extra sugars in the blood.
  • These “gummed up” LDL containers get attacked by cells of the body in the walls of blood vessels which lead to “plaques” that clog arteries.
  • Artificially lowering cholesterol by statin drugs causes the LDL transport containers to have too little protection. The function of these containers would normally be to transport excess blood sugars from the liver as fat and get rid of this throughout the body. However, these cholesterol deficient containers can’t perform this important function, magnifying the bad effects of excess sugar consumption. This is what makes high fructose corn syrup so dangerous, as fructose as a sugar is ten times more efficient in gumming up the LDL transport system.
  • This damaged sugar to fat transport system due to a lowered cholesterol level also results in too much fructose in the blood stream (which would normally be converted to fat in the liver and transported by the LDL transport system). This excess blood sugar causes damage to the proteins in the blood.
  • Co-enzyme Q10 synthesis is hampered by the blockage of the cholesterol enzyme pathway and this is needed to run cells and muscles. This can result in problems in the batteries of the cells and muscles (mitochondria).
  • Since the muscles can’t use CoQ10, they decide instead to use all of that extra fructose in the blood serum, which is now in plentiful (and damaging) supply because statins block it’s conversion into fat by the liver and it’s transport out of the liver by the LDL containers. When they do this, it’s without oxygen, so it’s anaerobic and lactic acid builds up, causing painful muscles.
  • The muscles do process the fructose, but they do so in a really inefficient way, requiring 19 times more energy to get the same muscle output-causing a sense of fatigue.
  • This alternative fuel system for the muscles leads to damaged muscle cells. After several years of lactic acid build-up due to statin use (the equivalent of being forced to run a constant marathon), the muscles “give out”. This author believes that this leads to a higher rate of severe muscle disorders like rhambdomyolysis as well as kidney failure (due to the renal system processing all of these muscle break down products). The author also believes that these muscle breakdown products can lead to nerve damage. She believes that this nerve damage can lead to a higher incidence of severe diseases such as ALS. My comments: These claims will take intensive study to see if they hold up.
  • The lack of cholesterol in the system eventually results in the heart and other tissues becoming dependent on an alternate fuel supply-sugar. There is also impaired uptake of glucose by the cells, which leads to the higher prevalence of diabetes that shows up in statin studies.
  • Cholesterol is critical for normal brain function. As mentioned already, the brain contains a lot of cholesterol as it makes up the important covering of the nerves (myelin sheath). Think of this as like the plastic covering of a wire, which insulates the wire and allows it to conduct electricity. This would explain the common reports of memory loss in patients taking statin drugs. A recent study that involved careful manual labeling of statin side effects from large studies showed a higher degree of neurological disorders in patients taking statins. These include neuropathy, parasthesia and neuralgia, and debilitating neurological diseases, ALS and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Longer life in one study that followed patients for 17 years was associated with higher cholesterol levels and full function of the enzymes that statin drugs inhibit. The author concludes that statins are a great way to fast track aging.
  • This author belives that eating foods rich in cholesterol and sulfur (like eggs) and sun exposure are ways to increase your cholesterol sulfate levels which can help clear arteries, not block them.

The upshot? Dr. Seneff believes that these statin side effects will eventually cause the recall of the drug class. Is she right? All I can say is that much of the science she explains makes sense and that we’ve seen what statin drugs can do to cells in culture and it isn’t pretty!

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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