Recently, someone, I care very deeply about told me that she did not want to take statins but her nurse practitioner told her she had to– because her coronary arteries showed plaque build-up aka atherosclerosis. Her insurance would pay for a new statin injection, but not for statin pills. Despite my rants about the dangers of statin drugs, she was absolutely convinced she needed them or she would die. She was going to discuss her options with her heart doctor but he was out on leave due to having a heart attack. Ironic? True story.
She isn’t alone. Statin Drugs are big business. Lipitor (approved in 1996) still generated $1.76 billion in sales for Pfizer in 2016, despite its patent expiration earlier this decade, pushing its lifetime sales to $148.7 billion.
How did cholesterol become the enemy? Some trace it back to Ancel Keys, an American physiologist who, back in the 1950’s and 60’s, conducted the famous Seven Countries Study (except that he sort of left out the 16 other countries that didn’t support his theory). He made the cover of Time magazine on January 13, 1961—convincing Americans that saturated fats were clogging their arteries. This lead to real food like butter, being replaced by processed food like hydrogenated fats– that set the stage for obesity and chronic heart disease. (Resource below)
And so it was. Another example of the “Ivory Tower” surrounding an incorrect and carefully manipulated set of data. Despite abandoning saturated fats and consuming low fat or fat free diets—heart disease is still number one. Cholesterol, like saturated fat, has been unfairly demonized despite 60 years of research that failed to show any correlation between high cholesterol and heart disease.
Cholesterol is one of the most critically important molecules in your body. Cholesterol builds, repairs, and replaces cells; it produces all your stress and sex hormones including Vitamin D. It is critical for brain health and helps with formation of memories. Low cholesterol has been linked to memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, violent behavior, strokes, and even suicide. (Mercola below)
So why would you take a drug that blocks the production of such an important molecule? According to Dr. Frank Lipman, “ Why would we want to lower it when the research actually shows that three-quarters of people having a first heart attack, have normal cholesterol levels, and when data over 30 years from the well-known Framingham Heart Study showed that in most age groups, high cholesterol wasn’t associated with more deaths? In fact, for older people, deaths were more common with low cholesterol. The research is clear—statins are being prescribed on an incorrect hypothesis, and they are not harmless.” (Resource Mercola below)
Statins drugs work by blocking the enzyme CoQ10. CoQ10 (Ubiquinol) is absolutely essential to every cell in your body. CoQ10 is a co factor in the production of energy in the cell mitochondria. CoQ10 or Ubiquinol has been shown to promote ATP production in the mitochondrial inner membrane. CoQ10 is a specialized enzyme used by all cells but is particularly predominant in cardiac muscle—which can have as many as 2-3 thousand mitochondria. Without CoQ10, the process of turning oxygen and sugar into energy is not going to function optimally.
Lack of CoQ10 alters the intracellular signaling proteins that cells use to communicate. Cholesterol is a lipoprotein (fat + protein) transport molecule. Blood is mostly water, so for cholesterol to be transported in your blood, it must be surrounded by fat. HDL and LDL are transport mechanisms that carry cholesterol to the parts of the body that need them. If you insist on taking statin drugs, your doctor should also insist on you taking the active form of CoQ10 which is ubiquinol, naturally produced in your body, suppressed by statins.
Statins also increase your risk of being diagnosed with diabetes. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates and sugar, your body stores any excess sugar as cholesterol or triglycerides. This is processed in your liver. However, statin drugs prevent your liver from making cholesterol, which means the excess sugar will be returned to your bloodstream, increasing your blood sugar level. Statins can cause drug-induced diabetes. This is not actual type 2 diabetes and by eliminating the statin, instead of adding insulin—your blood sugar levels will revert back to normal.
If you want to understand what causes heart disease, you have to look at what causes damage to the artery walls. When the endothelial lining of a blood vessel is damaged in any way, your body signals for repair mechanisms to be set in motion. All the necessary building and repair materials arrive via the bloodstream. Cholesterol is a major building and repair molecule! Repair causes a scab to form. Since the scab can’t exactly fall off into the bloodstream and block it, your body in its infinite wisdom, assumes the scab back into the endothelial lining of the blood vessel. It repairs the wall around it. Continued repairs cause thickening of the wall or atherosclerosis. Not cholesterol “clogging” the artery. Perhaps you could do away with the excess carbs and sugar?
Your body knows perfectly and exactly how to heal. Give your body natural oils like coconut, olive, and avocado. Just say NO to trans fats that are fatty acids, synthetically produced by hydrogenation. Trans fat actually promotes heart disease—it prevents the synthesis of prostacyclin and when your arteries can’t produce prostacyclin—blood clots form. Cut out carbs and sugar but not good fats. You don’t need statins to heal.