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Are Statin Drugs Worth the Side Effects?

Are Statin Drugs Worth the Side Effects?

For decades the medical profession has taught us that high cholesterol levels are correlated with a significant increase in heart disease. As a result, Americans are attempting to reduce their cholesterol levels by any means possible … which leads the average American to use statin drugs (the class of drugs created to lower cholesterol levels).

Cholesterol Importance

Cholesterol is so important to the body that the body does not rely on dietary intake to maintain cholesterol levels.  It has been estimated that only about 10% of the blood cholesterol actually comes from dietary sources.(1) Most bodily cholesterol is produced by the liver. Cholesterol is important for brain development, for cell wall development, for production of many bodily hormones, for bile salt production (to digest fats), and it functions as an antioxidant.(2)

Statin Side Effects

Since cholesterol is an essential component of biochemical processes throughout the body, the side effects of statin drugs (to lower cholesterol) seem endless. Dr. Bruce Eichelberger, OMD explains, “statin drugs promote cell death in heart muscle, the lining of blood vessels and brain cells. They also reduce the body’s store of the heart-protective nutrient CoQ-10. In addition, they stimulate cancer in rodents, disturb the function of muscles and can cause birth defects if taken by pregnant women.”(3) Furthermore, cholesterol deficiency can cause muscle aches (due to damage to muscle tissue), impaired memory and concentration, depression, irritability, headaches, nerve pain, sleeping problems, and many more side effects.(4)

Is Cholesterol Really the Problem?

The cholesterol myth primarily began after Nikolaj Nikolajewitsch Anitschkow (in 1913) showed that a diet of animal-based cholesterol clogs the arteries of rabbits.(5) The conclusion was that since rabbits cannot eat cholesterol, humans should not consume cholesterol either. The problem with Nikolaj’s research is that rabbits are herbivores and therefore are not physiologically created to process animal fats like humans do.

Numerous studies have since confirmed that cholesterol is not the core problem. Rather, the primary source of heart and blood diseases appears to come from diets high in carbohydrates (especially sugar and white flour) and high in omega-6 unsaturated vegetable oils. The consumption of both vegetable oils and processed white flour increased dramatically in the early to mid 1900’s … along with the increase in heart diseases. A 1994 Lancet article reported measuring the components of arterial plaques. In investigating an aortic artery clog, the study found that there are over ten different compounds in arterial plaque; the primary component of the clog was polyunsaturated fats, rather than saturated fat.(6) A Dutch study showed that consumption of saturated fats does not lead to heart disease; rather they confirmed that it is primarily the consumption of high glycemic index carbohydrates that lead to heart disease. (7)

Dr. Bernard Jensen has pointed out that the first commercially milled, refined and bleached flour process, in which the vitamin-containing germ (vitamins E and B-complexes and trace minerals) and fiber-rich bran are removed, occurred in this country about 1905. Dr. Jensen further points out that by the early 1920s the epidemic of coronary heart attacks began in this country.  Today, coronary heart disease kills over half of all American men and is the leading cause of death. (8)

Edward Howell confirms this in his book Enzyme Nutrition by stating, “The rise in sugar consumption parallels the increase in coronary heart disease. … [In 1972] C.C. Brooks and his associates fed pigs high-sugar diets. 68 out of 80 pigs developed heart disease in the left half of the heart.”(9)

Another reason a high carbohydrate diet is dangerous is due to the fact that high insulin levels in the blood (caused by eating too much white flour or white sugar) is one of the sources of arterial wall damage.(10)

Regarding the polyunsaturated fatty acids, numerous research studies have emphasized that necessity of increasing dietary omega-3 (n-3) fats and reducing omega-6 (n-6) fats. One such article states, “The diet of our ancestors was less dense in calories, being higher in fiber, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and fish. As a result, the diet was lower in total fat and saturated fat, but contained equal amounts of n-6 and n-4 essential fatty acids.(11) Today, the modern American diet consists of about 20 times the omega-6 fats as omega-3 fats. The article further points out that the effect of the high omega-6 diet leads to a higher concentration of chemicals that promote inflammation; whereas, the omega-3 fats more consistently lead to anti-inflammatory mediators in the body.

In other words, inflammatory blood disorders, such as atherosclerosis or cardiovascular disease, can be prevented by reducing dietary sugars, white flour, and omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oils).

Studies Exonerating Cholesterol

Dr. W. Stanley Hartroft said in the Condensed Chemical Dictionary (the “bible” of scientific chemistry), “It still has not been shown that lowering the cholesterol in the blood by this amount [20%] will have any protective effect for the heart and vessels against the development of atheroma and the onset of serious complications.” Also, he stated that “There is still no conclusive proof that increase in body cholesterol as a result of high dietary intake of animal derived saturated fats or fatty acids is causatively related to atherosclerosis [clogged arteries].”(12).

In 1992, The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute held a workshop where researchers looked at all of the studies published about high or low cholesterol risks. They came to this conclusion: Mortality was higher for women with low cholesterol than for women with high cholesterol.(13)

Anthony Colpo, in his research article published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, stated, “No tightly controlled clinical trial has ever conclusively demonstrated that LDL cholesterol reductions can prevent cardiovascular disease or increase longevity.”(14)

In 1993 the University of Leeds in England released a report titled “Cholesterol Screening and Treatment.” Drugs for lowering high cholesterol levels were given to a study’s participants. The patients whose cholesterol was artificially lowered with drugs developed heart disease just as frequently as the drug-free high-cholesterol group. The researchers stated, “Blood cholesterol by itself is a poor predictor of individual risk of coronary heart disease.”(15)

Recommendations with Statins

The primary recommendation for patients taking statin drugs is to take a daily CoQ10 supplement. Since CoQ10 (ubiquinone) is an important molecule for energy production, it is vital that levels be maintained. Unfortunately chiropractors are not permitted to make drug recommendations; therefore, a patient seeking to discontinue statin drug use will have to do so under the supervision of his/her medical doctor.

If one still insists on seeking to lower their blood cholesterol level, the best way to do so is not by reducing saturated fats, but rather by reducing carbohydrate intake. This was shown in a research study comparing a high carbohydrate vs high fat diet, and the conclusion was, “substituting carbohydrates for saturated fat leads to higher cholesterol in the blood.”(16) This is because insulin production (which occurs after eating carbohydrates), raises cholesterol levels.(17)

Sources:

(1) Turley, S.D. and Dietschy, J.M. “The Metabolism and Excretion of Cholesterol by the Liver,” in The Liver: Biology.

(2) http://www.modern-diets-and-nutritional-diseases.com/cholesterol.html

(3) http://www.balancepointblog.com/down-the-cholesterol-rabbit-hole/

(4) https://www.statineffects.com/info/adverse_effects.htm

(5) Finking G, Hanke H. “Nikolaj Nikolajewitsch Anitschkow (1885-1964) established the cholesterol-fed rabbit as a model for atherosclerosis research.” Atherosclerosis. 1997 Nov;135(1):1-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9395267

(6) Felton, CV, et al. “Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and compositions of human aortic plaque,” Lancet; 344:1195-1196, 1994.

(7) Kuipers et al. “Saturated fat, carbohydrates and cardiovascular disease.” Netherlands Journal of Med. 2011 Sep;69(9):372-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21978979

(8) Jensen, Bernard and Mark Anderson.  Empty Harvest.  Avery Publishing Group Inc., 1990. p 126

(9) Howell, Edward. Enzyme Nutrition: The Food Enzyme Concept. Avery Publishing Group Inc, 1985. p 89f

(10) Journal of American Medical Association; 2000; 283:221-228.

(11) Simopoulos, A. P. “Human Requirement for N-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids.” Poultry Science; 2000; 79:961-970.

(12) Hawley, Gessner G., Condensed Chemical Dictionary, 11th edition, Van Nostrand, Reinhold Company, 1977.

(13) Circulation 86, 1046-60, 1992 Jacobs, D, et al., Report of the conference on low blood cholesterol.

(14) Colpo, Anthony. “LDL Cholesterol: ’Bad’ cholesterol or Bad Science,” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Vol 10, No. 3, Fall 2005.

(15) http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/crd/EHC/ehc16.pdf

(16) American Journal of Cardiology 2000 85:45-48.

(17) Basic Medical Biochemistry: A Clinical Approach, pgs: 475, 566. Dawn B. Marks, Allan D. Marks, Colleen M. Smith, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, August, 1996.

 

 

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Dr. Greenall is the WSCA President for 2015

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