Medscape reports on the concerns about muscle pain associated with use of statin drugs in Statins and Myalgia: Fact or Fiction? What’s at stake here is that the guidelines for statin use have been lowered to not just treat cholesterol but to prevent it, which means the majority of men over 50 years and more than half of women over 60 years will be told they should take statins – for their own good! Please read this sentence 10 times and let the fact sink in that 3/4 of the population will be on statins!
Medscape in a very biased manner says that countering the guidelines are “claims, popularized by the lay press and uncritically published in some medical journals, that statin use is accompanied by an unacceptable incidence of side effects that adversely compromise lifestyle and which challenge whether the small absolute benefits in some lower risk groups are worth the intolerance of the statin.”
They do admit that “statins decrease mitochondrial function, attenuate energy production and alter muscle protein degradation, thereby providing a mechanistic explanation for a potential link between statin use and muscle symptoms.” But presumably it’s OK to wreak that havoc on a person’s mitochondria, energy and protein in the name of prevention. They also won’t admit that generalized aches and pains are related to statin use without evidence of creatine kinase (muscle enzyme) elevation.
What follows is four pages of data and debate trying to prove that statins cause severe muscle-related damage infrequently. But then they give themselves away and say that controlled trials only look for severe muscle damage side effects and that they aren’t required to report mild to moderate muscle symptoms.
Finally they get to the observational studies, which contrast dramatically with the outcomes of controlled trials. Instead of the incidence of myopathy of about 0.1% for all statins, in controlled trials, in observational trials 10–20% or more patients have reported muscle-related side effects – pain and/or weakness. But we don’t hear about those trials and neither do doctors. Thus doctors keep denying that statins cause muscle pain and just tell their patients they are getting older and it’s just arthritis and give them anti-inflammatories that cause more side effects.
Many researchers and drug companies completely deny the 20% figure saying there is no conclusive cause. They don’t believe the patients’ reports and with no creatine kinase enzyme elevation, they say that statins aren’t causing muscle problems. Now they are busy trying to find genetic markers to blame the genes. Authors of one observational study were “persuaded” to retract their suggestion that statins cause muscle pain.
Medscape complains that “Nevertheless, the damage had already been done and, along with extensive media reports on the side effects of statins, public confidence in the drugs was compromised with the result that patients discontinued their statins, or were unwilling for them to be prescribed. Regrettably, this has impacted on those recommended statins, not only for primary prevention, but also for those who had already experienced a cardiovascular event in whom, of course, the risk of a future event is much higher and the absolute risk reduction with statins is much greater.”
They do admit that statin users have an increased incidence of developing diabetes but they hasten to say that if statins prevent vascular disease, then it’s worth the risk! The paper then ends with another kick to the anti-statin crowd saying “The reporting of bad science and its popularisation by the lay press is a hindrance to optimal practice. As clinicians, we have a responsibility to educate our patients, and, hopefully, new findings will add to the weight of evidence in support of the efficacy, safety and tolerability of statins.”
Please don’t hold your breath! And please google my name and cholesterol and find out that you don’t have to be afraid of cholesterol. A good diet, exercise, hydration and taking ReMag and all the Total Body ReSet formulas can keep your whole body in balance, including cholesterol.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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