Should You Be Taking Statins? Here Are Results of Most Comprehensive Study...

Should You Be Taking Statins? Here Are Results of Most Comprehensive Study to Date


Statins to lower cholesterol are now one of the most widely used drugs, and as the medication is prescribed more frequently, doctors and patients are asking questions about possible side effects. In response, Huseyin Naci, MHS at the London School of Economics and Political Science in London, along with other researchers, conducted a review of 100 studies and almost 250,000 patients. Although there are some problems associated with statins, the reviewers determined the overall benefits outweigh potential risks.

Mr. Naci and his team reviewed years of clinical research on seven statin drugs. They determined that side effects are not common among those taking statins in heart disease. They also learned:

  • Users of statins have a 9 percent greater risk of developing diabetes.
  • Users of statins have elevated liver enzymes, a risk for liver toxicity.
  • Pravastatin and Simvastatin (Pravchol and Zocor) appear to be safer than other statins
  • There is no evidence to indicate an increase in cancer risk.

Renowned Florida cardiologist Arthur Agatston, M.D. analyzed the results with Everyday Health. Dr. Agatston is co-developer of the Agatston Score (also called the calcium score), a way of screening for coronary calcium to determine the presence of atherosclerosis. The score is used all over the world and is widely-regarded as the best predictor of future heart attacks.

Agatston says 20 years experience with statins shows they are safe, but their use should be restricted to people who really need them. With regard to the risk of diabetes, Agatston says even in patients who already have the disease, some do not accumulate plaque. If plaque is present, the benefit of statin treatment outweighs its potential to increase blood sugar slightly.

Regarding which patients should be taking a statin, Agaston says:

Almost all people who have had a heart attack should be on a statin. Those who do not have established heart disease, but who have a family history of heart disease or any conventional cardiac risk factors (high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking), should have a CT heart scan for a calcium score if they are men over age 40 or women over the age of 50. This test will let them know if they are accumulating plaque in their coronary arteries and are at risk for a future heart attack. The presence of plaque on a heart scan is a much better predictor than cholesterol levels of who is destined for a heart attack.

Each of us has our own level of cholesterol where it builds up in our vessel walls, causing the atherosclerotic plaque that can lead to a heart attack. If plaque is present, your cholesterol is too high for you and a statin is likely indicated.

Dr. Agatston says if a patient has plaque in the coronary arteries as revealed by a CT heart scan, or if a patient has had a heart attack or has been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, that patient should keep his or her LDL cholesterol, the so-called “bad cholesterol,” below 70.

For patients with no plaque and no known heart disease, Agatston says there is no single “right” threshold. Every individual is different. Many people with total cholesterol below 200 have heart attacks, and some people with much higher cholesterol have completely clear arteries.

He also says belly fat is clearly associated with heart disease. A waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women elevates cardiac risk. He considers waist size and a family history of diabetes more important that Body Mass Index. People can carry extra fat without being at risk for heart disease.


    • In recommending Pravastatin to me, my neurologist said it is the one he uses. After I did my research on side effects, I discovered that depletion of CoQ-10 is a big one. I asked him why he hadn’t also recommended that I take CoQ-10, and he didn’t have a clue about it. I told him that in my research I had discovered that statin drugs not only depleted the body of CoQ-10, but it also resulted in lesions in the chambers of the heart. He then turned to his computer and brought up a paid-subscription website for doctors. There he read about the things I had told him, and he said he would begin taking CoQ-10 himself.

      • I am glad that I might have helped you with the information on CoQ-10. I was feeling a little weak taking 40 mg per day of Crestor and didn’t know why. Then my doctor told me about a new study concerning how statins destroy or deplete CoQ-10. I take 100 mgs of CoQ-10 per day before breakfast, and I take my statin after breakfast. If I go 200 mgs per day of CoQ-10, I take the second capsule after lunch. Have a good evening. Ben, in Hawaii

  1. I don’t know how safe they are but when my husband took them he lost muscle control and would have ended up in a wheel chair if he had continued. I took them and has memory loss and was constantly walking about in a fog. In addition to not feeling well. Just a general feeling of being on the edge of illness 24/7. The answer from the doctor was that it will pass. After several years it got worse. I’ve taken Zocor, Pravacol, Lipitor and a host of other statins all with the same result. Finally went all natural and have never felt better.

      • I am taking supplements. I stopped my BP meds too as they were making me sick. I take a supplement for that too and my BP has been in better control than it was with the prescriptions. And no side affects either.
        I have altered my diet somewhat too. I only eat organic and have cut down on meat. Most vegetables I eat are steamed or raw.

      • Ronnie “NEVER JUST STOP ANY MEDICATION” if anything taper off the valume of med’s you take slowly. Best thing is to talk to other Dr. who is not prescribing med’s to you BUT QUALIFIED to give you medical advise. You may have to take some natural supplements to help with the medical problem you have. Lots of the food items we eat, or sometimes we do not eat, is MEDICINE to the body, BUT you will need a good naturalist DR. to guide you through the list of food you will have to eat to supply the nutrients that will do the fighting for you. good luck and be safe.

        • Thank You for such a quick response. I had a heart attack 17 years ago in my mid 40’s.,& had a triple by-pass done in Good old ST. Vincent’s in Manhattan. believe it or not I was a runner,& had Marathon among many other types of races. over the years . Genetic’s played a big part obviously in my life. I have been taking Lipitor,Crestor, & their genetic form,& have been in muscular distress ,so I had told my Doctor that I have taken myself off these statins,because I feel the pain isn’t worth having lower #’s,for that’s their primary goal …our #’s. I do alot of walking now,like a OLD GUY LOL ( & not a fullfilling as running ) I’m not being pig-headed I’m just so tired of what they want to see,as opposed to how I feel. I Thank You again,& I am currently looking into other homeopathic ,natural means.

  2. I took lipirtor years ago and my calves hurt so bad I quit….that aside, if statins are so wonderful, and almost everyone is on them, why is the heart failure rate the same or worse then before statins?

  3. I took Zocor for ten years and then had a heart attack and lost 50% of my hearts function. After three stints were installed my Doctor put me on Crestor which costs an arm and a leg even with insurance. Now, even if I look at sugar I break out like a teenager. I’m tired of the irritating embarrassing and sometimes painful pustuals all over my neck, head and face and have decided to toss all those worthless statins and just let God decide when my time has come. Funny thing about Crestor. I was om 40 mg. at first and then switched to 20mg. which didn’t alleviate the problem but oddly enough the 40mg. cost $139.00 co-pay but the 20 mg. cost $152.00 cvo-pay. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Go figure?

    • I respect you for getting rid of drugs that cause such severe problems.
      I had a massive heart attack from too much calcium. I knew EDTA chelation would clear not only the calcium but the cholesterol also, if there was any problem.
      I went to my cardiologist who did chelation treatments 4 days later when he was in his office.
      He was angry I did not call an ambulance and go to the hospital, but started EDTA 3mg IV treatments right away. By the way the EKG proved I had had a massive coronary and where the blockage was.
      In 6 weeks I had lost 10 pounds and had 13 3 hour 3mg EDTA chelation IV’s and had taken 20 to 30 500mg EDTA pills between times. I had taken 30 pills a day right after the heart attack until I could get to the doctor 4 days later, that kept my artery open just enough to keep going, slowly. The 30 pills were 15mg, a deadly dose if through IV, but we only absorb about 5% if taken internally which meant only 0.75grams of EDTA in the bloodstream. A low dose but it kept the artery open enough to live. In 6 weeks I was walking 2 miles and climbing 7 flights of stairs, back to normal with no harmful drugs. Never had a statin in my life.
      I can’t recommend what I did, but I had experience with chelation and talked to 100’s of people over the years, who were saved and had their lives given back to them. Usually they were off pills in 30 days.
      Needless to say the drug companies hate this and the doctors untrained in it don’t understand.
      If you are interested in good health please check and put your zip code in and find a MD near you who has the best of both world I training. Also check the research and articles. Good luck.

      • That’s a good strategy, but make sure they’re not “extended release” versions, as such pills are not to be cut, crushed, or chewed.

      • Take 40 cut them in half then throw them all in the trash.All statins did for me is i now have Polymyosites thank you Doc. I tell everyone not to take them

    • George… I have taken Crestor 20mg first, than my primery care Dr. changed it to 40mg, 2months later my Cadiologist changed to 80mg. Than my insurance changed in January same as yours, to a NEW CO-PAY. I told my Card… to give me something else, so now Iam on LIPITOR 40mg…. Co-pay $ 7,00 a month. “BOTH CRESTOR AND LIPITOR ARE DANGEROUS DRUGS, just read the description the pharmacy provide with your med’s. good luck and happy life while it last, best wishes to you, Sandor.

  4. I take atorvasatain, but It in my opinion has done nothing. What has discontinued my trips for coronary intervention has been a slow activating Niacin. I still take all my medicines, but question their usefulness.

    • Niacin’s weird. It reduces cholesterol nicely, raises HDL (good!), does everything right. But so far, it doesn’t seem to have reduced anybody’s risk of heart disease. More studies needed.

  5. My neurologist started me on Pravastatin a couple of years ago. My nephrologist concurred, as did my rheumatologist. It wasn’t to control cholesterol, but to help my kidneys and vessels due to what has so far only been diagnosed as “unspecified connective tissue autoimmune disease.” They have ruled out all the killer things, like lupus, MS, leukemia, and they have ruled out lesser autoimmune disease, like Sjogrens and some other things I can’t pronounce.

    After a couple of weeks, I began having simultaneous cramps in muscles all over my body, including hands, feet, calves, legs, neck, stomach, forearms. They said it would go away. It didn’t, but I kept taking the drug until my bowel stopped functioning. There was zero muscle movement, and I had extreme difficulty evacuating my bowel. I had switched from a meat and starch diet to a high-fiber vegetable diet to make sure I had soft stool. It didn’t matter. I simply could not clear my bowels without tightening my belt and bending over at the waist, while pushing on my abdomen to force an evacuation.

    I stopped taking the statin, and within a week, I had restored bowel function. Then, after several months, I mentioned to my nephrologist that I had stopped taking the statin. She told me to restart it for the sake of my kidneys. She cut the dose by half, and I started taking it again. Lo and behold, after just two weeks, my bowel stopped functioning again. Again I stopped the statin, and within a week I had full bowel function back again. I told my care team that I would not be restarting the statin. They said my kidneys will recover more slowly. I said that was better than developing a necrotic bowel.

  6. I fear that when Big Pharma CEOs dream, it is not the dream of curing the world of disease, but of the $Billions to be made supplying the chemicals they claim will address those diseases, that lights their smiles. As a cynical friend of mine pointed out: “There is nothing altruistic going on”. When my doctor advised me to take statins, which I’ve always read came with a pretty big downside, I decided to do some research. One of the possibilities I read about was Coconut Oil, and a Dr. Mary Newport, in Florida, whose husband, Steve, had been institutionalized with Alzheimer’s. She put spoons of Coconut Oil in his Oatmeal, and gave it to him directly; she was able to get Steve home.

    There are precious few studies on the subject, but I did find a couple. In populations that use a lot of Coconut Oil, primarily the South Seas Islanders, it was found that they have virtually no heart attack statistics, very little obesity, among a list of benefits. They even found virtually no dental problems; it turns out that Coconut Oil is a mild antibiotic, and keeps teeth and gums safe. It also has the ability to cross the Blood/Brain barrier, to dissolve the Amyloid Plaque that presents in (and causes?) Alzheimer’s.

    I also take a full range of vitamins, and other supplements (e.g. Ground Flax Seed, Pro-Fibe Citrus Pectin, and lots of antioxidants). When I had an MRI, last year, the doctor told me that the scan included my upper chest, and that all those arteries were “clean as a whistle”. In a couple months, I’ll turn 72.

    • It is not at all cynical to believe Big Pharma is more concerned about dollars than it is about cures. Take Prilosec, for example, a drug for acid stomach and stomach ulcers. It used to be a prescription drug, but when it was discovered that h. pylori was responsible for a lot of stomach ulcers, the maker switched Prilosec to an over-the-counter drug.

      Why? Because patients who wanted to take the cheaper version and not have to bother with a prescription could do so without visiting a doctor. Why is this important? Because if a doctor were to examine a patient with stomach pains, he might discover that it was an ulcer caused by h. pylori, and the cure is a simple 10-day course of two antibiotics. Then, poof!, no more ulcer or stomach pains.

      I discovered the cure for h. pylori back in the early ’90s, and got cured quick and easy. My dad, however, was addicted to Tums, Rolaids, and then Priolosec for 10 years after I pleaded with him to go to a doctor to find out if his ulcer was caused by h. pylori. The man refused to listen, and when it came time for a quintuple bypass surgery, his cardiac surgeon said he had to get rid of the ulcer before he could undergo surgery. Sure enough, they found h. pylori, and he was cured within 10 days and got his life-saving surgery in the nick of time. Sheesh!

      • A change of life-style – essentially eating and exercise habits – is life-saving. Bypass surgery is not. It does not lengthen life. The only bypass patients who live longer are the ones who wise-up and alter their life-style, AFTER the costly and harmful bypass surgery. The wiser ones do it and avoid the suffering associated with bypass surgery – and the frequent complications. See the book, “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure,” by
        Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. M.D.

    • I have just read that coconut oil is also great for lowering blood pressure, something I mean to accomplish for myself. I started using coconut oil for all my cooking needs a few months ago, and I have seen a 20-point drop in my blood pressure. The stuff tastes good, too. And it is excellent for frying and baking as well.

      • Right on all counts; I’ve been tempted to refer to Coconut Oil as a “Wonder Drug”. My doctor had previously measured my cholesterol, BP, A1C (I’m insulin-dependent), etc at each–every three month–visit, but has finally admitted that my numbers are so consistently good, that he’ll just check me once every six months, or so.

        One of the ways I got into Coconut Oil is that I happen to like popcorn, not just any popcorn, but the authentic, elusive Theater Popcorn; it can no longer be argued that Theater Popcorn is, and has always been, the best. I can smell the Heavenly aroma soon as I get on the same block as a theater. I never could get my homemade popcorn to measure up, so I undertook a study of the subject. And the first thing I discovered is that they have always used Coconut Oil. For a time, health officials warned that the so-called “Tropical Oils” were very bad, very high in saturated fats. But it turns out that the 98% saturated fats in Coconut Oil–and probably the other Tropical Oils, as well–are Naturally-Occurring saturated fats, which have NEVER been implicated in any health problem. Quite the contrary; they are healthy. It is the artificially-created saturated fats, the Hydrogenated, or Partially Hydrogenated oils—a.k.a. Trans Fats–that are so bad. I have now completed my Popcorn Research, and can state that I have nailed down the simple four step process that leads to Theater Popcorn Nirvana. If anyone’s interested, just let me know and I’ll pass it along.

    • Just nuts in general. I assume coconuts come in under the same general category; but something about nuts, a handful a day, seems to protect against almost every kind of death risk.

      • You’re probably right; nuts generally ARE very good for you. And Peanut Oil has long been known as one of the healthier cooking oils. I recently made an interesting discovery: While discussing, with my doctor, the subject of snacking, in general, and nuts in particular, the doc suggested that I have a few Pistachios in the evening. I replied: Oh good, I eat nuts all the time, I love them. He then said: Make it Pistachios, rather than just peanuts. It didn’t occur to me to ask him why, right then, but over the ensuing days, I got more curious about why he specified Pistachios. I finally did some research; It turns out that Pistachios are known to have anti-Cancer properties, among a host of other healthful effects. So now, I buy packages of organic Pistachios, chop them up, and add them to my Smuckers Natural Chunky Peanut Butter.

        • Great. Eating a 7-8 apricot kernals daily is even healthier. They do not taste good but contribute to health like nothing else. Take a look at “World Without Cancer; The Story of Vitamin B17,” Dec 18, 1974, by G. Edward Griffin. The FDA, AMA and pharmacy suppressed the truth in this book for 40 years. The Oncology industry hates the book – and Professor Griffin. . .

  7. Statin drugs are one of the pharmacy hocus pocus gimics similar to voodoo vaccination.
    Both of which make huge contributions: to MD and pharmacy income.
    For the truth about the cholesterol fraud, goto
    For the truth about voodoo vaccination, goto
    Injecting animal pus and metals into an infant is criminal. CRIMINAL ! The only thing to be injected into a baby is mothers milk into its mouth !