What you are about to read about statin drugs and cholesterol is readily available in biochemistry and physiology textbooks. Cholesterol is essential in the body and blocking its production, which is what this group of drugs does, gradually cripples each and every sytem (organs, tissues, cells) in the body. In the UK it is especially important to be aware of this because a drug, in this group, known as Simvastatin has been available over-the-counter in pharmacies for some years. Don't just walk into a pharmacy, off the street, and buy it, at least until you are fully informed about it.
The body is composed of cells which differ slightly depending on their specialisation. There are liver cells, neurones (brain/nerve cells), muscle cells, skin cells and many other types of cells. Each and everyone of these cells has an outer membrane that separates it from other cells and from the fluid around the cells. The cell membrane is composed of lipids (fats) with cholesterol making up roughly 25% of the lipids. So from birth, cholesterol is found all over your body. It is that important.
Cholesterol controls the fluidity and flexibility of the cell membrane which, in turn, affects its permeability and ability to transport nutrients into the cell and waste products out of the cell.
The liver makes its own cholesterol in a series of chemical reactions known as the mevalonate pathway. Cholesterol levels are finely controlled in a feedback mechanism that uses high-density lipoproteins (HDL) to return excess cholesterol to the liver for excretion and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) to transport cholesterol to the cells. In other words, the body makes its own cholesterol whether you go on a low-cholesterol or cholesterol-free diet or not. Read on to see why cholesterol is an essential chemical in the body?
Certain essential molecules need cholesterol before the body can make them. These are:
Steroid hormones including the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen
Coenzyme Q10 (also known as ubiquinone) which plays a crucial role in energy production. It is produced in the mitochondria. Organs and systems that require a lot of energy have thousands of mitochondria within their cells. These include skeletal muscle, heart muscle and the brain.
Dolichols are involved in the production of glycoproteins. Glycoproteins have many functions. They act as receptors on the cell surface, they move chemicals into and out of the cell, they enable nerve impulses to be transmitted along nerve fibres to other nerve cells or systems. Deficiencies in dolichols have been associated with mood disorders, aggression and suicide attempts.
Statins block the production of cholesterol by blocking the action of the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase in the mevalonate pathway. This affects the rest of the pathway and blocks the body's ability to produce Vitamin D (even if the sun shines throughout the year), the sex hormones like testosterone, Coenzyme-Q10 and dolichols.
What a Statin Drug Does
Children born with a condition called mevalonic aciduria, caused by the deficiency of an enzyme called mevalonate kinase, cannot produce cholesterol or any of the other chemicals listed in 4 above. Their symptoms, which begin in infancy include:
Severe developmental delay
Dismorphic features such as very small heads, sloping foreheads, triangular shaped heads
Enlarged liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly)
Muscle weakness and hypotonia
Susceptibilty to infection
Recurrent attacks of fever
Cholesterol-lowering drugs have many side effects, some very severe. Some of the side effects, like loss of memory and forgetfulness can easily be attributed to ageing by both doctors and family members.
The FDA now requires pharmaceutical companies to include Type 2 Diabetes, memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion as possible side-effects in their lists of side effects published in package leaflets. I believe that, for reasons best known to themselves, the FDA downplays these effects.
There are times when we just need to take back control of our lives. Statins keep us in a state of chronic illness for the rest of our lives and we end up having to take more and more drugs (with their own side-effects) to suppress the symptoms.
The video below shows the first 13 minutes of a DVD entitled Statin Nation. It reveals how what is true about cholesterol has been twisted to support the flawed theory that cholesterol causes heart disease. If this theory were true, we would all have heart disease from birth.