One of the many chief complaints reported by patients who are on statin therapy (cholesterol medication) is that of muscle pain, cramps, weakness, difficulty walking, numbness, and even loss of muscle mass. For decades, however, many health authorities have played down or even ignored these complaints. We are repeatedly told that the risk of muscle damage is low.
However, a new study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic that will be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has again confirmed that large numbers of people do indeed suffer muscle damage due to statins. This also shows that people do not just imagine the muscle pain, as has previously been suggested by statin supporters.
This study is unusual because it only included people who had previously reported that they are intolerant to statins – these people were given a statin or a placebo.
The people who took the statin had a 61% increased risk of muscle damage compared with those who took the placebo.
In response to the study Dr Steven Nissen, chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, said:
“The study has important implications for both guidelines and regulatory policy, because it provides strong evidence that muscle-related statin intolerance is a real and reproducible phenomenon.”
72 million people are “eligible” for statins in the United States, 12-17 million people in the UK, and millions more in other countries. We already know that most of these people will not obtain any benefit from the statin, and are being exposed to significant adverse side effects including significant memory loss (sometimes not recognizing the immediate family), cognitive and memory problems, sexual dysfunction, fatigue and depression, to name a few.
This latest study should prompt our health authorities to rethink the billions of dollars that are being spent on cholesterol-lowering. Unfortunately, this study is already being used to suggest that patients should simply switch to another, more expensive, medication.
You see, this study was paid for by Amgen, Inc., the maker of a PCSK9 Inhibitor – an injection that lowers cholesterol. These PCSK9 Inhibitors have been approved based on the dramatic reductions in cholesterol associated with them – despite that fact that it’s been shown that those with higher cholesterol live longer than those with low cholesterol.
Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme which boosts cholesterol production, however it is thought they also activate a gene which increases muscle wasting. The researchers say that the problem of muscle pain could be even worse for people on higher doses of statins. The trial only looked at effects a low dose of a single statin. Authors concluded:
“Since statin-associated muscle symptoms are dose-related, the rate observed in this trial for atorvastatin (20 mg) may underestimate the problem, particularly for patients needing high-intensity statin therapy.”
Isn’t it interesting that when it suits them, pharmaceutical companies and those experts paid to support pharmaceutical companies, scoff at the suggestion of statin adverse effects, but when they want to get more people to take another product instead, then they will admit to statin damage?
What most people don’t realize, or possibly forget, is that pharmaceutical companies have a fiduciary obligation to provide profit for their shareholders (drug companies are a business) but are under no obligation to give you the best treatment.
According to Cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst at a talk given at the Center of Evidence Medicine:
“The real scandals are the regulators who fail to prevent misconduct by industry, as well as the doctors, institutions and journals whose primary responsibility should be to patients and scientific integrity “collude with industry for financial gain.”
I couldn’t agree with him more!
Stay tuned for future articles regarding the important roles of cholesterol in our body and the true cause of heart disease. Cholesterol is not the enemy!