Many popular news sites in the last few days have been reporting that a recent study suggests that the use of statin drugs may be connected to a lower risk of developing the dreaded dementia causing illness Alzheimer's.
This disease was first named in 1901 by German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer and thus its name. In 2015, there were approximately 48 million people worldwide diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
If it is true that statin drugs help prevent Alzheimer's, then the drug companies producing statin drugs that have been enduring some pretty bad press and some very costly lawsuits for decades due to the terrible liver destroying and incredible aging side effects of statin drugs will likely breathe a sigh of relief.
The life expectancy following a diagnosis of Alzheimer's is six years, so it's likely that being responsible for producing a "cure" would almost change the reputation of most pharmaceutical companies from a villian to a hero. But what about those side effects of statin drugs? Are they really aging people?
In fact, many doctors recommend that their patients on statin drugs take COQ10 supplements to help reverse the aging effects of statin drugs. Everyone naturally has an abundance of COQ10 in their bodies in their youth. But as we age, our body loses this vital nutrient and it loses it even faster if we are on some type of statin drug. Statin drugs also work in the liver, blocking its ability to make the enzyme that produces cholesterol.
Side effects of statin drugs range from something as simple as muscle cramps all the way to liver dysfunction and worse to (ironically) memory loss. Dr. Mercola even claims that taking statin drugs increases your risk of getting Lou Gehrig's disease, diabetes and ever cancer. He also lists on his website other risks including anemia, impotence, a depressed immune system and polyneuropathy which is nerve damage in the hands and feet.
So, do statin drugs like Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor to name a few actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer's? Well, here's what the study concluded: The University of Southern California conducted a research study of 400,000 patients who took statin drugs on a regular basis.
The study was published online in JAMA Neurology, a monthly medical journal published by the American Medical Association. What the scientists discovered was that these patients had reduced their chances of getting Alzheimer's by 12 to 15 percent. Why? Because statin drugs lower cholesterol.
An article published at nih.gov (National Institutes of Health) in November, 2011 states, "Substantial evidence has accumulated in support of the hypothesis that elevated cholesterol levels increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, much work has been done investigating the potential use of lipid-lowering agents, particularly statins, as preventive or therapeutic agents for Alzheimers."
So, the question arises, is the risk reduced by taking statin drugs? In the study of these 400,000 patients, was the risk reduced because they were taking statin drugs? Or was it because these patients were proactively reducing the amount of cholesterol in their arteries? The scientists working on this major study admit that the correlation between the reduced risk of getting Alzheimer's and the statin drug's ability to lower cholesterol and beta-amyloids in the brain is likely a factor.
Beta-amyloid is the main component in the plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Statin drugs also have an anti-inflammatory benefit that may also contribute towards lowering the risk of Alzheimer's.
So in reality, it's the lowering of cholesterol and the keeping of your arteries not inflamed that actually reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer's, not necessarily the taking of statin drugs. Eating a healthy low cholesterol, rich in fiber diet may be just as connected to reducing the risk of getting Alzheimer's. Large amounts of Vitamin C help to keep your arteries and veins healthy and reduce inflammation.
To back up this claim, the organization Alzheimer’s Research UK in Cambridge, UK states that the research such as the study published in JAMA Neurology identified “important trends”, but also claims that the very best protection against neurological decline remains a good diet and regular exercise. There are other means of reducing cholesterol, but the article sounds like its saying that taking the "wonder" statin pill will prevent Alzheimer's and that's not necessarily the case.
It kind of makes you wonder what pharmaceutical company funded that research?