Statins Hurt Muscle Mass

Statins are a range of cholesterol reducing drugs taken by an estimated 25% of all Americans over the age of 45. Statins are commonly used to reduce cholesterol and prevent a build-up of plaque in the arteries a pre-cursor to heart disease and stroke. However, statins may have detrimental side effects which could be far more harmful to our health than high cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring lipid or fat produced by the liver and essential for normal body function. It can be found in the outer layer of every cell in our body and is carried around in the blood. A diet high in saturated fats will raise the level of the lipoprotein in our blood which is what is measured in a cholesterol blood test. Doctors now recommend statins for anyone with cholesterol readings higher than 200 ml/dl. However, statins may lower cholesterol to insufficient levels, cause muscle weakness and liver damage when taken long-term.

Statins work by poisoning the natural enzyme HMG-CoA reductase in order to limit cholesterol production. An insufficient supply of cholesterol means that nerve cells and neurons die as the body is unable to regenerate or repair them. Statins also disrupt the production of CoQ10 which is essential to maintaining a healthy heart. Serious cases of neurological and neuromuscular deterioration have been attributed to statins in extreme cases.

This is confirmed by a recent study published in the journal Muscle and Nerve. Researchers divided rats into four groups to assess the effect of statins on inflammation in the body. One group had muscle injury and was given statins, a second group had muscle injury but no statins, a third group was healthy and treated with statins, and the fourth control group was healthy and left untreated. After a period of time, the results showed that the rats treated with statins showed significant structural muscle damage compared to the control group and the injured group not given statins.

Natural Alternatives to Statins
Statins are not the only way to lower cholesterol. Natural alternatives include changing to a heart healthy low fat diet with oily fish once or twice a week. Increasing fiber in the diet through wholewheat bread, brown rice and fresh fruit is another easy way to control cholesterol naturally.

Taking 30 minutes' exercise five times a week lowers bad cholesterol and natural supplements such as beta-sitosterol and red rice extract also support healthy cholesterol levels safely and naturally.

CoQ10 and Statins
As we get older our natural production of the CoQ10 enzyme slows down. Unfortunately, statins have been found to further deplete the body of this essential nutrient.

Drug manufacturer Merck & Co. currently holds patents to combine statins with CoQ10 in one tablet which surely indicates an acknowledgement that statins deplete CoQ10 resources, but these combination tablets are currently not available on the market. Studies show that taking CoQ10 does not reduce the cholesterol-lowering action of statins but it does help prevent liver and muscle damage. For those who still feel that statins are essential to their well-being, CoQ10 should certainly be taken as a supplement to counter the detrimental side effects of statins.


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