By Dr. Chris Maffit
Tens of millions of Americans are currently taking one of the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. Moreover, many so-called “experts” suggest that millions of more individuals should go on them. The drug industry giant, Pfizer, has even introduced a children’s chewable version of its popular statin, Lipitor. You may also have heard of Crestor, Simcor, Vytorin, and Zocor. Statistically, if you are 45 years of age or older, you have a one-in-four chance of having taken a cholesterol lowering medication this morning. If you or a loved one fits this description, you need to continue reading this article. What I share with you can have a very real impact on your health and quality of life.
Statins are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, that is, they act by blocking the enzyme in the liver that is responsible for making cholesterol (HMG-CoA reductase). The fact that statin drugs cause side effects is well established. There are now more than 900 studies proving their adverse effects. They are attributed to a wide range of complications from muscle problems to an increased risk of cancer. Other known side effects include anemia, acidosis, nerve damage in the hands and feet, serious degenerative muscle tissue conditions, sexual dysfunction, immune depression, pancreas and liver dysfunction, and cataracts.
While muscle problems are the best known adverse side effect of statins, cognitive problems and memory loss are also widely reported. There is evidence that issues with blood glucose elevation, tendon problems, and even an increase in risk of Lou Gehrig’s disease may correlate with statin use.
By now you should be asking yourself, “If this group of statin drugs has so many known and well documented adverse side effects why do so many Americans continue to take them and doctors prescribe them?” Sadly, much of the answer resides with profit margins and an outdated, debunked theory that high cholesterol causes heart disease. Statins are big business. Use of statins rose by a whopping 156 percent between 2000 and 2005, rising from $7.7 billion to $19.7 billion annually. Forbes now estimates that statins represent 6.5 percent of the total market share, becoming the most widely sold pharmaceutical drugs in history and accounting for over $26 billion in annual sales. Pfizer reported spending over $3 billion a year to convince us that we need more and more drugs to be healthy. Over this same time period the nearly 900 studies mentioned above were published showing the damage statins inflict. The truth is that high cholesterol DOES NOT cause heart disease and ninety-nine out of 100 people do not need statin drugs.
Parents beware. Researchers and many doctors are now calling for universal school screenings of children to check for high cholesterol to find those “in need of treatment.” In addition, older siblings, parents, and other family members might be prompted to get screened as well in order to uncover additional, previously undiagnosed adults that are in need of the drug. This is clearly NOT the way to improve public health. On the contrary, it could produce a new, massive wave of extremely dire health consequences in just a few years time. So, rather than improving school lunches, which would cost about a dollar a day per child, they’d rather “invest” ten times that amount for tests and drugs that in no way, shape, or form address the root cause, which is an improper, unhealthy diet!
The only subgroup that might benefit from statin sue are those born with a genetic deficit called familial hypercholesterolemia which makes them resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol. If your doctor is urging you to check your total cholesterol, then you should know that this test will tell you virtually nothing about your risk of heart disease, unless it is 330 or higher. HDL percentage is a far more accurate indicator for heart disease risk.
Here are the two ratios you should pay attention to:
- HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: Should ideally be above 24 percent. If below 10 percent, you have a significantly elevated risk for heart disease.
- Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be below 2.
People with total cholesterol levels over 250 can actually be at a low risk for heart disease due to their elevated HDL levels. Conversely, there are many people with cholesterol levels under 200 who have a very high risk of heart disease, based on their low HDL.
Your body NEEDS cholesterol—it is important in the production of cell membranes, all the steroid hormones (testosterone, estrogen and progesterone), vitamin D, and the bile acids that help digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function. There is strong evidence that having too little cholesterol INCREASES your risk for cancer, memory loss, Parkinson’s disease, hormonal imbalances, stroke, depression, suicide, and violent behavior.
If you take statins, you must take CoQ10. Without it your health is at serious risk. CoQ10 is a cofactor (co-enzyme) that is essential for the creation of ATP molecules, which you need for cellular energy production. Organs such as your heart have higher energy requirements, and therefore require more CoQ10 to function properly. Statins deplete your body of CoQ10 by inhibiting its precursor, cholesterol, with devastating results. Physicians in the U.S. rarely inform people of this risk and only occasionally advise them to take a CoQ10 supplement. Canadian law requires that all statins carry a label warning of the risk of CoQ10 depletion.
As your body gets more and more depleted of CoQ10, you may suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness, and eventually heart failure. Coenzyme Q10 is also very important in the process of neutralizing free radicals. So when your CoQ10 is depleted, you enter a vicious cycle of increased free radicals, loss of cellular energy, and damaged mitochondrial DNA. If you decide to take a CoQ10 supplement and are over the age of 40, it is important to choose the reduced version, called ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is a far more effective form and has a vast range of known health benefits.
There is really no reason to take statins and suffer the damaging health effects from these dangerous drugs. The fact is that 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol.
My primary recommendations for safely regulating your cholesterol have to do with modifying your diet and lifestyle as such:
- Reduce, with the plan of eliminating from your diet, grains and sugar. Eat the right foods for your nutritional type and consume a good portion of raw food.
- Make sure you are getting plenty of high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill and fish oil.
- Other heart-healthy foods include olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products, eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats.
- Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate peak fitness exercises, which also optimizes your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
- Address your emotional challenges and stressors.
- Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
- Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep.
- Unlike statin drugs, which lower your cholesterol at the expense of your health, these lifestyle strategies represent a holistic approach that will benefit your overall health—which includes a healthy cardiovascular system.
You can personally contact me for additional information or to schedule a one-on-one consultation.
Delta Spinal Care
Holistic Health and Wellness Center