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What are the Side-Effects of Statins?

Updated on March 4, 2012
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Statins are powerful drugs that are prescribed to lower blood cholesterol levels, but what are their side-effects?

Too many people (some doctors included) see statins as that magic pill that takes care of the problem of high cholesterol without further input.

And while this is true to a certain extent, statins themselves can cause problems elsewhere in the body.

If you have have been prescribed statins, you will want to know how they work, how effective they are, and all about their possible side-effects.

While those details are in the packaging, too many people fail to read the small print, and it is indeed in small print.

There is some suggestions that not all known or suspected side-effects are listed, but it's not all bad news.

Statins have been shown to have positive side-effects too.

Cholesterol reducing diets should be tried before being prescribed diets

Before you start on any medication for reducing cholesterol, you should have tried dieting and losing the cholesterol naturally.

It has come to my attention recently that many doctors are using statins as the first line of defence, and not the last as it should be.

While this indeed many well bring your cholesterol levels down quickly, you are guaranteed a lifetime of taking statins unless you also change your diet.

Any weight loss diet will help you lose cholesterol, which is a fatty tissue that builds up on the outside lining of all your major organs, and on the inside of arteries.

Reducing dietary fats, especially saturated fats, and sticking to a healthy diet with reduced fats and sugars, and increasing physical activity, will reduce your overall cholesterol levels.

Statins are not a quick and easy option.

If you failed to reduce your cholesterol while following your doctor's dietary advice, there is a fair chance you were cheating.

Or you could be one of those insulin-resistant people who really struggle with weight loss through dietary fat reduction.

Those same people will also struggle with their efforts to reduce cholesterol, in which case a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet may be recommended under medical supervision.

Statins should really only be the last option.

Today, an estimated 20 million American take statins, and a further 7 million in the UK. Worldwide, the figure is unknown, but it is reckoned that 1 in 3 people over the age of 45 take statins, at least in Westernized nations.

Remember, this is a lot of money for the drug companies and those who prescribe them.

Diets are free.

List of cholesterol reducing foods

Negative side-effects of statins

Just recently, the US Food and Drug Administration revealed that statins can increase blood sugars and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

As a result of this, major brands like Pfizer Inc's Lipitor and AstraZeneca's Crestor will need to include a new warning on their labels in the U.S.

The Medicines and healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have pointed out that those more likely to develop type 2 diabetes while on statins are already overweight and at risk.

Why are these people not being treated with diets instead of statins?

Statins should be a last resort, not the first.

Statins are also known to cause memory loss, confusion and brain fogs.

Remember, this is a drug you will be on for life. Isn't a diet a better option?

Statins can cause liver damage. This is why when you on statins, you will require regular blood checks that look for rises in the levels of liver enzymes which indicate damage.

Fatigue, sexual dysfunction, muscle pain and weakness are all commonly reported side-effects of people who take statins regularly, and these symptoms in this case are potentially fatal, and should be reported to your doctor at the earliest opportunity.

The muscle pain can be as a result of your muscles breaking down as a direct result of taking statins. The resultant breakdown tissue can overload your kidneys which if left untreated can lead to kidney failure and death.

The muscle weakness could point to neuropathy, which is a serious malfunction in the peripheral neural nerves, resulting in loss of communication between cells, especially the brain and the muscles. This is a rare but real danger of taking statins. It can of course be fatal if it occurs in the lungs or the heart, when both will stop functioning.

Sexual dysfunction affects men, and life for most men is severely incapacitated by this.

The fatigue can be linked to the brain fog, memory loss and confusion. This is a cognitive defect response, and is thankfully lifted when statin therapy is ceased.

To recap, the common side-effects of taking statins are:

  • memory loss
  • confusion
  • inability to concentrate
  • fatigue
  • sexual dysfunction
  • risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • liver damage
  • muscle pain
  • weakness

Following a healthy eating diet plan instead, carries no side-effects and in every case, makes you feel younger, healthier, fitter and gives you more energy.

Positive side-effects of statins

After all that, there are actually some positive side-effects to taking statins, apart from having your cholesterol magically reduced with little or no effort on your part.

Statins have been shown to reduce the risks of developing some cancers, notably breast and prostate cancer

A study carried out at the Harvard Medical School in New York in 2011 found that women who have had breast cancer were a massive 30% less likely to suffer a relapse if they took a statin called simvastatin.

A study at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic discovered that men being tested for prostate cancer symptoms were 10% less likely to see a positive diagnosis if they had regularly been taking statins. The risk of being diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer was down a whopping 24%.

It would seem then that the best candidates for taking statins are those who are in the high risk groups for developing those types of cancers, as well as having high cholesterol levels.

Side-effects of statins


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