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‘The Statin Effects Study’ Spills The Beans On Impact Of Most Popular Cholesterol Treatment

It has been two years since I first blogged about an ongoing study looking at the negative impact of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (Lipitor, Crestor, and Zocor are the bestselling) conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). With literally BILLIONS of dollars spent by patients on each of these drugs annually, are the alleged benefits really worth the pain that so many statin users are reporting?

That’s exactly the focus of The Statin Effects Study, led by researcher Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb, and it is the first of its kind to examine and compare actual patient feedback of these FDA-approved drugs on their bodies. With well-publicized concerns in the past over the safety of using such drugs as Vioxx and then the popular diabetes medicine Avandia this week, could removal of these statin drugs from the marketplace be very far behind? It may be coming a lot sooner than later.

Before I started on the Atkins diet in January 2004, I was told by my family doctor to take statin drugs to control my cholesterol. First it was Lipitor which just about killed my joints and muscles to the point that I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I pleaded with my doc to give me something else to “lower my cholesterol,” so then he switched me to Crestor stating it wouldn’t hurt me as bad. Boy was he wrong…it was WORSE! A LOT worse!

In fact, I remember playing basketball at my church one night after losing 100 pounds in early 2004 while still taking Crestor when I went up for a rebound and felt the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my thumb. I quickly ran to the sideline and saw my hand swelling up fast (I went to the emergency room where they said I had a deep tissue bruise). All I did was grab the basketball, but the joints in my fingers had become so weak that the impact of gripping the ball caused me to suffer an injury when it probably would not have happened had I not been taking a statin drug.

Sure, statins have been shown to lower your cholesterol numbers, but at what cost to the rest of your health? You’ve got studies like this one advocating higher and higher doses of statin drugs even in the midst of such nightmarish horror stories from the people who take them.

When I saw a slight increase in my LDL cholesterol last year, my doctor was adamant that I go on a statin drug again. I vehemently refused because I KNEW how they made me feel. So I posed the question to my readers “Do I Statin Or Not?” and the overwhelming conclusion by a consensus opinion was to avoid them at all costs. I was going to anyway, but it was good to see confirmation from my educated peers about this issue.

Because of the negative impact of statins, there are lawsuits being filed against the makers of Lipitor along with several other class action lawsuits from people who have suffered the devastating impact of these medicines that are supposed to be helping our health, not harming it. And yet there is still a lot of confusion and concerns over cholesterol that persists.


Dr. Golomb taking on huge special interests with her statin study

So what are some of the most common negative effects of statin drugs according to Dr. Golomb and her fellow researchers? After sifting through over 4100 response surveys from the people participating in the study so far, here’s what they found:

- Most of the “adverse effects” occur in higher doses of statins
- Recurring symptoms happen frequently after the first side effect
- Pain in muscles, trouble remembering things, a tingling, burning, or numbing sensation, and a general sense of irritability are universal reactions to statin drugs
- Other symptoms include mood changes, violent nightmares, liver and stomach problems, trouble breathing, profuse sweating, weight gain, breast enhancement, dry skin, rash, impotence, and blood pressure changes
- Statins also impact protein in the urine, kidney function, and the heart

The researches are quick to point out that all of these symptoms may or may not be directly related to statin drug use, but they are simply what the study participants shared about what was happening to their bodies while taking them.

*We have learned a great deal that helps us to help those who contact us,” the researchers said.

The results of The Statin Effects Study have already begun to appear in published form through the American Heart Association, the Archives of Internal Medicine, Controlled Clinical Trials, Annals of Internal Medicine among others. More importantly, the findings have been presented to the doctors who are prescribing these drugs left and right to inform them what they are doing to their supposedly hypercholesterolemic patients. Whether the message is getting through or not is another story.

While the media has picked up on this study, the reporting is, according to the researchers, “not always accurate.” Gee, what a surprise there! But the more information that comes out about what these drugs are doing to the health of the people taking them, it will be difficult for the pharmaceutical companies and their buddies in the media to keep sweeping these facts under the proverbial rug!

There are several side studies that have come out of this data, including:

- What impact on memory do statin drugs have?
- Can your body recover from the negative impact of taking statins?
- What should doctors do for patients complaining about pain on statins?

Additionally, they want to continue the information collection process by:

- Creating a survey for family members of statin sufferers to fill out
- Taking an even closer look at the benefits and harm from statins
- Conducting tests on exactly why statins cause the alleged problems
- Examining treatment options for the negative effects of statins
- Continually seeking to publish their study findings in scientific journals

Not one single dime of money for The Statin Effects Study has been collected from the pharmaceutical industry (although it is highly doubtful they would since the results of the study are not looking good for them!), so this research project has been funded by contributions from individuals who care about this subject.

“We believe this is vital to permitting an unbiased evaluation that includes risks as well as benefits of statin use,” the researchers contend. “Your contribution, if you wish to make one, will truly make a difference.”

If you would like to donate funds to continue financing this study, then please write a check for any amount that you can afford payable to “UC San Diego Foundation, Fund #39
23″ and send it to:

UCSD Statin Effects Study
9500 Gilman Drive, Dept. 0995
La Jolla, CA 92093-0995

You may also submit any questions, comments, or updates on your own experiences taking statin drugs to the researchers anytime by writing to them at statinstudy@ucsd.edu or by calling (858) 558-4950 ext. 215.

“Furthermore, if you know of someone else who may have experienced benefits or adverse effects on statins, we would be grateful if you might be willing to provide them with our contact information and let them know that their input can be of great help to us,” the researchers exclaimed.

Have you taken or are you currently taking statin drugs and experience any specific side effects? If so, then take the online survey RIGHT NOW to share how these dangerous drugs may have harmed you in some way. We have an opportunity to help others who may feel like they have to take statin drugs avoid the pain that so many of us have experienced. I gave them my information two years ago and I was happy to contribute in some small way.

Of course, those of us who are livin’ la vida low-carb already know that the supposed cholesterol concerns that we hear so much about are completely bunk because the claims have been greatly exaggerated by the drug companies to make a profit. My challenge back to the people who state that elevated cholesterol levels are bad for you is prove it’s unhealthy!

So far, there have been no takers because they KNOW the scientific evidence does not support their position! So why take statin drugs at all? For complete and well-researched details about this topic, you absolutely must read the phenomenal book entitled The Great Cholesterol Con by Anthony Colpo. The TRUTH is there in black and white!

You can e-mail Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb to thank her personally for her fantastic leadership on this statin study at bgolomb@ucsd.edu. We need more people like her willing to take the arrows for the betterment of societal health and well-being. You are to be commended, Dr. Golomb!

5-25-07 UPDATE: Well, I heard from Dr. Golomb today after she read this blog post.

Dear Jimmy Moore,

Thank you so very much for your kind words.

We have, um, been under fire a bit from some quarters this last week so it is wonderful to be reminded that what we are doing is important to the people that matter — patients!!

Sincerely,

Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine
UCSD School of Medicine

Oh, I bet you have been “under fire” from the special interests in the pharmaceutical industry that stand to lose BILLIONS of dollars if you keep exposing the TRUTH about what they are doing to the health of real people, or as you describe as “the people that matter — patients!!” Yep, we are that group of people those in the medical community who support the economic interests of prescription medications like statin drugs have completely forgotten about!

5-26-07 UPDATE: One of my readers wanted to share about a new book she’s reading about the corruption of the drug companies that are “selling sickness” to make big profits. Here’s what she wrote in an e-mail:

While reading your blog today on the Statin Effects Study, a book I had just finished reading immediately came to mind. Its title is Selling Sickness and was written by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels. It is truly phenomenal, and the chapter in the book on “high cholesterol” is eye-opening.

I, too, had been on Crestor and Lipitor and suffered terrible ill effects. After reading this book, I took myself off Lipitor immediately. A portion of the blurb on the inside jacket of the book reads as follows:

“Using their dominating influence in the world of medical science, drug companies are systematically working to widen the very boundaries that define illness. Old conditions are expanded, new ones created, and the markets for medication grow ever larger. Mild problems are redefined as serious illness and common complaints are labeled as medical conditions requiring drug treatments. Runny noses are now allergic rhinitis, PMS has become a psychiatric disorder, and hyperactive children have ADD. When it comes to conditions like high cholesterol or low bone density, being “at risk” is sold as a disease in its own right…”

“The marketing strategies of the world’s biggest drug companies now aggressively target the healthy and the well. The ups and downs of daily life have become mental disorders, common complaints are transformed into frightening conditions, and more and more ordinary people are turned into patients. With promotional campaigns that exploit our deepest fears of death, decay and disease, the $500 billion pharmaceutical industry is literally changing what it means to be human. Rightly rewarded for saving life and reducing suffering, the global drug giants are no longer content selling medicines only to the ill. Because as Wall Street knows well, there’s a lot of money to be made telling healthy people they’re sick.”

Jimmy, I got my copy of Selling Sickness from my public library. I would highly recommend that you read it (it’s a quick read) and the chapters cover, in part, high cholesterol, depression, menopause, attention deficit disorder, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.

I’ve heard of this book before and have been trying to get my hands on it. When I do, you can bet I’ll write a review here at my blog. THANKS for sharing this with us.

  • Dana

    My mom, a Type 2 diabetic, was put on Crestor for a little while last year. It made her feel like absolute crap. She asked me to look up info about it on the ‘Net since I’m computer literate and she’s not, and I was shocked at what I found. As I recall it (I could be misremembering), I think it even screws with your insulin levels, which is a Very Big Deal with someone obese and diabetic and already having mental health issues (insulin imbalances can cause mood disorders!).

    In her case it was causing pain, and her doc took her off of it. But I think my dad is still on a statin drug. Naturally, rather than address his diabetes with a low-carb diet, his doc’s got him on a low-FAT diet and on diabetes and cholesterol drugs. Well, gee whiz. *sigh*

  • Science4u1959

    “The Great Cholesterol Con” should be required reading for any medical student and health care professional. It’s an outrage, in fact, that it isn’t required reading yet – and symptomatic for the current state of health care in the Western world. “don’t bother me with the facts, my mind’s made up”. Utterly disgusting.

  • renegadediabetic

    The UCSD site is a great resource for countering those who claim statins are safe.

    When my doctor prescribed Lipitor for me, I didn’t know any better and was ready to take it. Fortunately, that night I ran into two people who had had bad reactions to Lipitor. I Googled Lipitor and found other information on side effects. Another good one is by a former Astronaut, Duane Graveline. He had 2 bouts of Transient Global Amnesia while taking Lipitor. His site is http://www.spacedoc.net/, which contains a lot of good information about statins. After reading this and other information, I didn’t get the prescription filled. When I had to face my doctor again, he checked my cholesterol and it had come down enough that Lipitor was no longer an issue, Thank God and thanks to low carb. I later stumbled across the USCD site.

    Mike Eads had a couple of good posts on the subject a while back. One cites a study published in the Lancet showing that statins are of no benefit to the elderly or to women in preventing heart attacks. The only ones to benefit from statins are middle aged men with existing cardiovascular disease. Even with this group, you’d have to treat 50 people for 5 years to prevent one adverse event. http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/index.php?s=lancet

    As a diabetic, I often hear that all diabetics should be on statins. Dr. Eads also deals with this issue at:
    http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/?p=678 With the odds mentioned above, the cons outweigh the pros. I’ll take my chances without statins. It would be great to see them taken off the market, or at least see their use restricted to the most high risk patients.

  • Kelly Fisher

    Jimmy,
    As I mentioned in our conversation the other day – my husband is off Lipitor…due to the fact that he was always complaining that it felt like his legs were broken! Ouch! Thanks for posting this information – I pray no one else takes these kinds of medications. I know sometimes it seems easier to just “take a pill” rather than taking the time to take care of ourselves and eat right (and exercise)….but, it sure is worth it in the long run….
    Thanks again!