Many people know someone who has suffered from the negative side effects of statins or have experienced these debilitating side effects personally. Some of the most common statins being heavily advertised and prescribed are Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, Pravachol and others. The medical community typically denies that these side effects are directly related to statin use; in fact, many doctors are not reporting statin-related side effects at all. Some of the common side effects include memory loss, muscle pain and weakness, prediabetes, brain fog, confusion and more, including symptoms mimicking dementia. In some instances, these effects can be permanent.
But now there’s a new study conducted by Penn State College of Medicine and published in the Movement Disorders journal of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorders Society stating that statins may hasten the onset of Parkinson’s symptoms for people who are prone to the disease. This is even more alarming because doctors have been considering prescribing statins not only for high cholesterol, but also as a preventive against Parkinson’s disease. Research on whether statins protect against Parkinson’s has so far been unclear and results are inconsistent.
Penn State researchers analyzed the data of about 22,000 Parkinson’s patients under 65 years old, of which 2,322 were newly diagnosed, and paired each with a person from a control group without Parkinson’s. They noted which patients had been taking statins and the length of time they were on them before symptoms of Parkinson’s occurred. The final analysis showed that patients taking statins – particularly fat soluble lipophilic statins that can get into the brain – had a higher risk of Parkinson’s and that Parkinson’s symptoms were more obvious during early statin use.
This is in direct conflict with a previous study suggesting that patients who stopped taking statins had a higher rate of developing Parkinson’s; the conclusion those researchers drew from this was that statins helped to prevent Parkinson’s. However, Penn State’s assistant professor of public health sciences, Guodong Liu, said that this conclusion may instead indicate that new Parkinson’s symptoms began while patients were using statins; when these patients stopped taking statins and symptoms progressed, it was interpreted that the statins had been preventing Parkinson’s. Liu also pointed out that the study did not show that statins cause Parkinson’s, but rather that they do not protect users from developing Parkinson’s.
Statins have also been prescribed to not only to lower cholesterol, but also to prevent cardiovascular events. This strategy has also been called into question, when another recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that statin use in people over 65 did not lower the number of strokes or heart attacks when compared with people of the same age who were not taking statins. The study also showed that there was no reduction in deaths from cardiovascular events or any other cause in statin users aged 65 and up. However, use of statins by older people can put that population at higher risk for physical decline, possibly causing issues like fatigue and muscle damage.
Of course, with such conflicting studies, more research needs to be done on these issues. However, we know that all prescription drugs put patients at risk of side effects or permanent complications, and many only mask symptoms while doing nothing to heal the root cause. While some medications can’t be avoided for certain serious health issues, natural prevention of many conditions is possible through regular exercise, a good diet low in or devoid of processed foods and sugars and the proper balance of minerals and healthy fats.