The raison d'etre of this website is to provide you with hard scientific information which may help you make informed decisions in your quest for health (so far I have blogged concise summaries of over 1,500 scientific studies and have had three books published).

My research is mainly focused on the effects of cholesterol, saturated fat and statin drugs on health. If you know anyone who is worried about their cholesterol levels and heart disease, or has been told to take statin drugs you could send them a link to this website, and to my statin or cholesterol or heart disease books.

David Evans

Independent Health Researcher

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Statins exacerbate exercise-induced skeletal muscle injury

This study was published in Metabolism 1997 Oct;46(10):1206-10
 
Study title and authors:
Lovastatin increases exercise-induced skeletal muscle injury.
Thompson PD, Zmuda JM, Domalik LJ, Zimet RJ, Staggers J, Guyton JR.
Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9322808

This study investigated the association between statins, exercise and creatine kinase levels (high levels of creatine kinase are a marker for muscle damage) using a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. The study include 59 healthy men aged 18 to 65 years who were assigned to receive lovastatin (40 mg per day) or placebo for 5 weeks. The men completed 45 minutes of treadmill walking after 4 weeks of treatment.

The study found that the creatine kinase levels of the men who received lovastatin were 62% and 77% higher 24 and 48 hours after the treadmill exercise compared to the men who received placebo.

The researchers concluded that statins exacerbate exercise-induced skeletal muscle injury.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Low fat diet leads to a 150% increase in colon cancer

This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine 2000 Apr 20;342(16):1149-55
 
Study title and authors:
Lack of effect of a low-fat, high-fiber diet on the recurrence of colorectal adenomas. Polyp Prevention Trial Study Group.
Schatzkin A, Lanza E, Corle D, Lance P, Iber F, Caan B, Shike M, Weissfeld J, Burt R, Cooper MR, Kikendall JW, Cahill J.
National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10770979

This study investigated the association between fat and fibre consumption and the development of recurrent colorectal adenomas, which are precursors of most large-bowel cancers. The study lasted for four years and included 1,905 patients who were at least 35 years old and who had had one or more confirmed colorectal adenomas removed. All patients had no history of colorectal cancer.

The patients were assigned into two groups and advised to either:
(i) Lower their fat consumption to 20% of daily calories and up their fibre consumption to 18 grams per 1000 calories. (Lower fat, higher fibre group).
(ii) Carry on with their normal diet (fat consumption of 34% and fibre consumption of 10 grams per 1000 calories). (Higher fat, lower fibre group).

The study found:
(a) Both groups had similar rates of at least one recurrent adenoma although the incidence in the lower fat, higher fibre group was .2% more than the higher fat, lower fibre group.
(b) The lower fat, higher fibre group had a 150% increased risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to the higher fat, lower fibre group.

The data from the study shows that patients with colorectal adenomas have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer if they follow a low fat, high fibre diet.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Statins increase the risk of chronic muscle diseases by 286%

This study was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2008 May;67(5):614-9
 
Study title and authors:
Increased exposure to statins in patients developing chronic muscle diseases: a 2-year retrospective study.
Sailler L, Pereira C, Bagheri A, Uro-Coste E, Roussel B, Adoue D, Fournie B, Laroche M, Zabraniecki L, Cintas P, Arlet P, Lapeyre-Mestre M, Montastruc JL.
Unit of Pharmacoepidemiology, EA 3696, Clinical Pharmacology Department, Paul Sabatier University, 37 Allées Jules Guesdes, 31000 Toulouse, France. sailler.l@chu-toulouse.fr
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17768174

This study evaluated the association between chronic muscle diseases and prior exposure to cholesterol lowering drugs. The study, which lasted for two years, included 37 patients with chronic muscle diseases such as dermatomyositis and polymyositis who were compared to 185 control subjects.

The study found that those who were exposured to statins had a 286% increased risk of dermatomyositis and polymyositis.

Monday, 28 January 2013

High-fibre supplement (psyllium) linked to colon cancer risk

This study was published in the Lancet 2000 Oct 14;356(9238):1300-6
 
Study title and authors:
Calcium and fibre supplementation in prevention of colorectal adenoma recurrence: a randomised intervention trial. European Cancer Prevention Organisation Study Group.
Bonithon-Kopp C, Kronborg O, Giacosa A, Räth U, Faivre J.
Registre Bourguignon des Tumeurs Digestives, Faculté de Médecine de Dijon, France.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11073017

Ispaghula husk is a soluble fibre that comes from a shrub-like herb, Plantago psyllium. Ispaghula husk is also known as psyllium, psyllium seed, psyllium husk, ispaghula or ispaghula seed.

Ispaghula husk is a central ingredient in many high-fibre cereals, and is often combined with wheat and oats. It is also contained in many processed foods such as "health drinks", bread, biscuits, rice cakes, instant noodles and other bakery products and is also sold as a supplement such as Metamucil, Colon Cleanse, Serutan, Fybogel, Bonvit, Effersyllium, and Konsyl. 

This study investigated the effect of ispaghula husk supplementation on recurrence of colorectal adenomas in patients with a history of colorectal adenomas. (An adenoma is a benign tumor of glandular origin. Although these growths are benign, over time they may progress to become malignant). The study included 665 patients who received either supplementation or placebo and were followed for three years.

The study found that patients who had the ispaghula husk had a 67% increased risk of recurrence of colorectal adenomas compared to patients who had placebo. 

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Abdominal aortic aneurysms expand more with statin use

This study was published in the American Heart Journal 2010 Feb;159(2):307-13
 
Study title and authors:
Association of statin prescription with small abdominal aortic aneurysm progression.
Ferguson CD, Clancy P, Bourke B, Walker PJ, Dear A, Buckenham T, Norman P, Golledge J.
Vascular Biology Unit, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20152231

Abdominal aortic aneurysm  is recognized as an important cause of death in older men. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is when the large blood vessel (aorta) that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs becomes abnormally large or balloons outward. The larger the aneurysm, the more likely it is to rupture and break open.

The study assessed the association of statin treatment (and other medications) and with abdominal aortic aneurysms expansion.  The study, which lasted for six years, included 652 patients undergoing surveillance of small abdominal aortic aneurysms.

The study found:
(a) Those taking statins had a 23% increased risk of their abdominal aortic aneurysm expanding more than average compared to those not taking statins.
(b) Those taking beta-blockers had a 13% increased risk of their abdominal aortic aneurysm expanding more than average compared to those not taking beta-blockers.
(c) Those taking aspirin had a 10% increased risk of their abdominal aortic aneurysm expanding more than average compared to those not taking aspirin.

The data from the study shows that statin users have an increased risk of larger expansion of abdominal aortic aneurysms compared to non users.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Low cholesterol leads to an early death

This study was published in the ScientificWorld Journal 2012;2012:930139
 
Study title and authors:
Lipids and all-cause mortality among older adults: a 12-year follow-up study.
Cabrera MA, de Andrade SM, Dip RM.
Postgraduate Program in Public Health, State University of Londrina-UEL, Robert Koch Avenue, 60 CEP, 86038440 Londrina, PR, Brazil. marcoscabrera@uol.com.br

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22666169

This study investigated the association between cholesterol levels and death rates in elderly people. The study lasted for 12 years and included 800 people aged 60-85 years.

The study found:
(a) Those with cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL (5.1 mmol/L) had a 24% decreased risk of death compared to those with cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dL (5.1 mmol/L).
(b) Those with low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels above 130 mg/dL (3.3 mmol/L) had a 27% decreased risk of death compared to those with low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels below 130 mg/dL (3.3 mmol/L).
(c) Those with cholesterol levels below 170 mg/dL (4.4 mmol/L) had a 60% increased risk of death compared to those with cholesterol levels above 170 mg/dL (4.4 mmol/L).
(d) Those with high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L) had a 20% increased risk of death compared to those with high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels above 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L).

The data from the study shows that low cholesterol leads to an early death.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Statins may induce interstitial lung disease

This paper was published in Chest 2008 Oct;134(4):824-30

Study title and authors:
Statins and interstitial lung disease: a systematic review of the literature and of food and drug administration adverse event reports.
Fernández AB, Karas RH, Alsheikh-Ali AA, Thompson PD.
Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18689579

This study reviewed the scientific literature to examine the relationship between statins and interstitial lung disease. (Interstitial lung disease is the name for a large group of diseases that inflame or scar the lungs. The inflammation and scarring make it hard to get enough oxygen. The scarring is called pulmonary fibrosis).

After reviewing evidence from the previous 20 years the researchers concluded: "Statin-induced interstitial lung disease is a possible newly recognized side effect of statin therapy".

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Walking is associated with lower total death rates and lower death rates from cardiovascular disease in adults with diabetes

This study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine 2003 Jun 23;163(12):1440-7

Study title and authors:
Relationship of walking to mortality among US adults with diabetes.
Gregg EW, Gerzoff RB, Caspersen CJ, Williamson DF, Narayan KM.
Division of Diabetes Translation, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA. edg7@cdc.gov

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12824093

The objective of the study was to estimate the association between walking and the risk of death from all-causes and death from cardiovascular disease among persons with diabetes. The study included 2,896 adults 18 years and older with diabetes who were followed for eight years.

The study found:
(a) Compared with inactive individuals, those who walked at least 2 hours per week had a 39% decreased risk of death from any cause.
(b) Compared with inactive individuals, those who walked at least 2 hours per week had a 34% decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Walking is associated with lower total death rates and lower death rates from cardiovascular disease in adults with diabetes.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Use of statins is associated with increased insulin resistance in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting

This study was published in Diabetes Care 2012 Oct;35(10):2095-9

Study title and authors:
Statin intake is associated with decreased insulin sensitivity during cardiac surgery.
Sato H, Carvalho G, Sato T, Hatzakorzian R, Lattermann R, Codere-Maruyama T, Matsukawa T, Schricker T.
Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. hsatou@yamanashi.ac.jp

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22829524
 
This study investigated the association between preoperative statin therapy and insulin sensitivity during surgery in 120 nondiabetic patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting.
 
Low insulin sensitivity (or increased insulin resistance) is a condition in which the cells of the body become resistant to the hormone insulin. Insulin resistance may be part of the metabolic syndrome, and it has been associated with higher risk of developing heart disease. Insulin resistance precedes the development of type two diabetes.
 
High blood sugar levels and a greater oscillation (greater variation) of blood sugar levels lead to damaged blood vessels and diabetes and may cause a multitude of complications such as: Kidney disease or kidney failure requiring dialysis, strokes, heart attacks, visual loss or blindness, immune system suppression with increased risk for infections, erectile dysfunction, nerve damage causing tingling, pain or decreased sensation in the feet, legs, and hands, and poor circulation to the legs and feet, with poor wound healing. In extreme cases, because of the poor wound healing, amputation is required.
 
The study found:
(a) Insulin sensitivity was ∼20% lower in those taking statins compared to those not taking statins.
(b) Blood sugar levels were 9% higher in those taking statins compared to those not taking statins.
(c) The oscillation of blood sugar levels was larger in those taking statins compared to those not taking statins. 

The study results show that preoperative use of statins is associated with increased insulin resistance in nondiabetic patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Higher levels of cholesterol are associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's Disease

This study was published in the Archives of Neurology 2004 May;61(5):705-14

Study title and authors:
Relation of plasma lipids to Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia.
Reitz C, Tang MX, Luchsinger J, Mayeux R.
Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA.

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15148148

This study investigated the relationship between cholesterol levels and Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia. (Vascular dementia is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain usually from a stroke). The study included 4,316 participants aged 65 years and older.

The study found:
(a) The risk of prevalent Alzheimer's was 28% higher in those who had low cholesterol, under 172 mg/gL (4.4 mmol/L), compared to those with cholesterol levels between 197-225 mg/dL (5.1-5.8 mmol/L).
(b) The risk of prevalent Alzheimer's was 34% higher in those who had low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, under 37 mg/gL (.95 mmol/L), compared to those with high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels over 55 mg/dL (1.4 mmol/L).
(c) The risk of prevalent vascular dementia was 20% higher in those who had low cholesterol, under 172 mg/gL (4.4 mmol/L), compared to those with cholesterol levels between 197-225 mg/dL (5.1-5.8 mmol/L).
(d) The risk of prevalent vascular dementia was 40% higher in those who had low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, under 37 mg/gL (.95 mmol/L), compared to those with high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels over 55 mg/dL (1.4 mmol/L).

The lead author of the study Dr Christiane Reitz commented: "Our results do not support the hypothesis that the risk of Alzheimer's Disease is associated with plasma lipid levels. They also do not support the hypothesis that statin use is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's Disease."

Dr Reitz is a medical doctor and genetic epidemiologist. Her research focuses on the identification of genetic and non-genetic factors that contribute to Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and structural and functional brain changes.

Dr Reitz concluded: "Higher levels of total cholesterol were associated with a decreased risk of incident Alzheimer's Disease."

Monday, 21 January 2013

Statins increase the risk of diabetes

This study was published in Circulation 2010; 122: A14293

Study title and authors:
Does Therapy With Statins Increase Risk Of Diabetes?
Renata Giudice; Giovanni de Simone; Raffaele Izzo; Marina De Marco; Valentina Trimarco; Teresa Migliore; Gerardo Carpinella; Marcello Chinali; Nicola De Luca; Bruno Trimarco
Federico University, Naples, Italy                 
                       
This study can be accessed at: http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract/122/21_MeetingAbstracts/A14293

This study evaluated the risk of diabetes in relation to statin therapy in patients free of diabetes at the start of the study. The study included 1,760 non-diabetic participants, (average age 52 years), who were followed for 3.5 years.

The study found by the end of the follow-up period, prevalence of new diabetes was 199% higher in patients on statins compared to those not taking statins.                    

Sunday, 20 January 2013

High cholesterol levels associated with exceptional longevity in men

This study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine 2008 Feb 11;168(3):284-90

Study title and authors:
Exceptional longevity in men: modifiable factors associated with survival and function to age 90 years.
Yates LB, Djoussé L, Kurth T, Buring JE, Gaziano JM.
Division of Aging, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 1620 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02120, USA. lbyates@partners.org

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18268169
 
The study examined factors associated with a life span of 90 or more in men. The study lasted 25 years and included 2,357 men.
 
Regarding cholesterol levels, the study found that men with cholesterol above 240 mg/dL (6.2 mmol/L) had an 8% increased likelihood of achieving a 90 year life span compared to men with cholesterol levels below 240 mg/dL (6.2 mmol/L).

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Rhabdomyolysis induced by statins

This paper was published in Clinical Chemistry 1990 Dec;36(12):2145-7

Study title and authors:
Rhabdomyolysis secondary to lovastatin therapy.
Manoukian AA, Bhagavan NV, Hayashi T, Nestor TA, Rios C, Scottolini AG.
Department of Pathology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu 96822.

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2253372

This paper reports a case of lovastatin (Mevacor)-induced rhabdomyolysis (severe muscle breakdown which may lead to kidney damage).

(i) A 59 year old woman was admitted to hospital with a two day history of shortness of breath and difficulty walking. She had been discharged from hospital two weeks earlier for congestive heart failure and, since discharge, had experienced progressive weight gain and swelling of the feet and ankles such that walking had become difficult.
(ii) For 13 days before admission to hospital she had been taking lovastatin, 20 mg orally twice a day.
(iii) On the second hospital day she complained of profound muscle weakness in her lower extremities which progressed over several hours to include the upper extremities. In addition she could no longer walk because of severe pain.
(iv) Creatine kinase levels increased from 157 U/L two weeks before admission to 176,500 U/L on the twelfth hospital day. (High creatine kinase levels are a marker for rhabdomyolysis).
(v) The patient's symptoms and creatine kinase levels resolved after discontinuation of the statin drug.

As well as inhibiting the body from producing cholesterol, statins also repress the production of several other biologically essential compounds such as coenzyme Q10 and heme A which are important components in the system of mitochondrial energy production.

Mitochondria are known as the powerhouses of the cell. They are tiny cellular organelles that take in nutrients, break them down, and create energy for the cells.

Dr Manoukian speculates that the rhabdomyolysis was due to statin-induced mitochondrial damage secondary to inadequate synthesis of coenzyme Q10 and heme A.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Walking increases longevity in the elderly

This study was published in Maturitas 2012 Dec 29. pii: S0378-5122(12)00400-8
 
Study title and authors:
Walking four times weekly for at least 15min is associated with longevity in a Cohort of very elderly people.
Fortes C, Mastroeni S, Sperati A, Pacifici R, Zuccaro P, Francesco F, Agabiti N, Piras G, Amleto D, Ebrahim S.
Clinical Epidemiology Unit, IDI-IRCSS, Rome, Italy. Electronic address: c.fortes@idi.it.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23280132

This study investigated the role of walking outdoors on longevity. The study lasted for ten years and included 152 self-caring and mobile elderly people, average age 80 years.

The study found that elderly people who walked in the open air for at least 15 minutes, four times a week had a 40% decreased risk of death compared to individuals who walked less than four times a week.   

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Autoimmune hepatitis can be triggered by statins

This paper was published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 2006 Sep;40(8):757-61
 
Study title and authors:
Autoimmune hepatitis triggered by statins.
Alla V, Abraham J, Siddiqui J, Raina D, Wu GY, Chalasani NP, Bonkovsky HL.
Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.
 
This paper can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16940892

This paper describes three patients in whom it is probable that statins initiated the development of autoimmune hepatitis. (Autoimmune hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that occurs when immune cells mistake the liver's normal cells for harmful invaders and attack them).

(i) Two men (aged 47 and 51) and one woman (aged 57) developed autoimmune hepatitis after the initiation of statin therapy.
(ii) The woman developed hepatitis due to statins on two separate occasions: the first in 1999, due to simvastatin, and the second in 2001 to 2002, due to atorvastatin, which was severe and persisted even after discontinuing medication.
(iii) In the two men, exposure to statins preceded development of autoimmune hepatitis, which persisted despite discontinuing medications.
(iv) Three similar previously reported cases were noted.

The researchers concluded that the three cases reported here and three similar previously reported cases, indicate that severe, ongoing autoimmune hepatitis can be triggered by statins.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Red meat is a rich source of micronutrients

This study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition 2005 Jun;93(6):933-42
 
Study title and authors:
Consumption of red meat, white meat and processed meat in Irish adults in relation to dietary quality.
Cosgrove M, Flynn A, Kiely M.
Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16022764

The aim of the study was to examine the association of red meat, white meat and processed meat consumption in Irish adults with dietary quality. The study reviewed the diets of 662 men and 717 women (not pregnant or lactating) aged 18-64 years.

The study found:
(a) Red meat consumers had higher Zinc, niacin and vitamin B12 intakes than did non-consumers.
(b) Red meat consumers also had a lower prevalence of inadequacy of micronutrient intakes particularly for iron, Zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin and vitamins B6, B12 and vitamin C.
(c) There were no differences in micronutrient intakes between white meat consumers and non-consumers.
(d) Processed meat consumption was associated with lower micronutrient intakes and higher levels of inadequacy of iron, folate and vitamin C intakes, particularly among women.

The study demonstrates that red meat consumers had relatively high intakes of micronutrients, particularly copper, Zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12. On the other hand, processed meat consumption was associated with poor adequacy of micronutrient intakes.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Lovastatin (Mevacor) may be associated with the onset of lupus

This study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine 1991 Aug;151(8):1667-8
 
Study title and authors:
Lovastatin-induced lupus erythematosus.
Ahmad S.
Cardio-Diagnostic Clinique, Fairmont, WVa 26554.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1872674

This paper describes two patients; a 64-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man, who developed a lupuslike syndrome due to lovastatin therapy. (Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks its own cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage).

The lovastatin-induced lupus was completely reversed on withdrawal of the statin.

This suggests that lovastatin (Mevacor) may be associated with the onset of lupus.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Low cholesterol is the most common risk factor for brain hemorrhage in people under 40

This study was published in Stroke 1999 Mar;30(3):537-41
 
Study title and authors:
Intracerebral hemorrhage in young people: analysis of risk factors, location, causes, and prognosis.
Ruíz-Sandoval JL, Cantú C, Barinagarrementeria F.
Stroke Clinic, Stroke Program, Instituto Nacional de Neurología y Neurocirugía, Mexico City, Mexico.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10066848

This study investigated the risk factors for intracerebral (brain) hemorrhage in young people. The study included 200 patients, aged 15 to 40 years, with confirmed intracerebral hemorrhage.

The study found the most frequent risk factors were:
(i) Low cholesterol levels (less than 160 mg/dL or  4.1 mmol/L) (35%)
(ii) Tobacco use (20%)
(iii) High blood pressure (13%)
(iv) Alcohol use (10%)

The results of the study reveal that low cholesterol is the most common risk factor for brain hemorrhage in people under 40. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Guillain-Barre syndrome may be a serious side-effect of statin treatment

This paper was published in Muscle and Nerve 2004 Nov;30(5):663-6

Study title and authors:
Disorder resembling Guillain-Barré syndrome on initiation of statin therapy.
Rajabally YA, Varakantam V, Abbott RJ.
Department of Neurology, University Hospitals of Leicester, Royal Infirmary, Leicester LE1 5WW, United Kingdom. yusuf.rajabally@uhl-tr.nhs.uk

This paper can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15389662

This paper reports the case of a 58-year-old man with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious condition of the peripheral nervous system. It occurs when the body's immune system attacks part of the nervous system.

(i) On initiation of simvastatin therapy a disorder resembling Guillain-Barre syndrome occurred in the man.
(ii) He  had experienced a similar but milder episode after starting pravastatin six months earlier.

This case suggests that Guillain-Barre syndrome may be a serious side-effect of statin treatment.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Red meat decreases the risk of heart disease

This study was published in Preventive Medicine 2007 Feb;44(2):135-42
 
Study title and authors:
Health-related behaviours as predictors of mortality and morbidity in Australian Aborigines.
Burke V, Zhao Y, Lee AH, Hunter E, Spargo RM, Gracey M, Smith RM, Beilin LJ, Puddey IB.
University of Western Australia School of Medicine and Pharmacology, Royal Perth Hospital Unit, Box X2213 GPO, Perth 6847, Australia. vburke@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
 

The study examined the influence of diet and lifestyle on the risk of heart disease. The study included 256 women and 258 men, aged 15-88 years, who were followed for four years.

Regarding red meat consumption, the study found that for every 100 grams per day increase in red meat consumption, the risk of heart disease decreased by 31%.  

Friday, 11 January 2013

Statins may be associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

This study was published in Drug Safety 2009;32(8):649-61

Study title and authors:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-like conditions in possible association with cholesterol-lowering drugs: an analysis of patient reports to the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Statin Effects Study.
Golomb BA, Kwon EK, Koperski S, Evans MA.
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, California 92093-0995, USA. bgolomb@ucsd.edu

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19591530

Dr Golomb notes that cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or ALS-like conditions have arisen in apparent association with statins (and other cholesterol-lowering drugs). This study sought to find evidence whether the connection may be causal.

The study included ten patients, with either a formal or probable diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis arising in association with statin drug therapy.

The study found:
(a) All patients reported improvement of symptoms with drug discontinuation.
(b) All patients reported onset or exacerbation of symptoms with drug change, rechallenge or dose increase.

The results from the study suggest that statins (and other cholesterol-lowering drugs) may be associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Consumption of sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas are associated with a significantly higher risk of stroke

This study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2012 May;95(5):1190-9

Study title and authors:
Soda consumption and the risk of stroke in men and women.
Bernstein AM, de Koning L, Flint AJ, Rexrode KM, Willett WC.
Wellness Institute of Cleveland Clinic, Lyndhurst, OH 44124, USA. bernsta2@ccf.org

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22492378

The study examined the relationship between soda consumption and the risk of stroke. Data was extracted from two studies:
(i) The Nurses' Health Study, a study of 84,085 women followed for 28 years.
(ii) The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, a study of 43,371 men followed for 22 years.

The data revealed:
(a) Those who consumed one or more serving per day of sugar-sweetened soda had a 16% increased risk of stroke compared to those who consumed none.
(b) Those who consumed one or more serving per day of low-calorie soda had a 16% increased risk of stroke compared to those who consumed none.

This analysis of over three million person-years of follow-up shows that a greater consumption of sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas is associated with a significantly higher risk of stroke.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Antiphospholipid antibodies (indicate an increased risk of blood clots or pregnancy loss) are associated with statin use

This study was published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology 2012 Jun;65(6):551-6
 
Study title and authors:
High antiphospholipid antibody levels are associated with statin use and may reflect chronic endothelial damage in non-autoimmune thrombosis: cross-sectional study.
Broder A, Tobin JN, Putterman C.
Division of Rheumatology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York, USA. abroder@montefiore.org
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22389514

Persistently elevated antiphospholipid antibodies and positive lupus anticoagulant are associated with an increased risk of thrombosis and pregnancy loss, see here and here.

The study explored whether antiphospholipid antibodies and positive lupus anticoagulant were associated with statin use in 270 patients without autoimmune diseases hospitalised with arterial or venous thrombosis (blood clots).

The study found that statin users were 220% more likely to have antiphospholipid antibody positivity.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

High red meat consumption is associated with a reduced risk of cancer

This study was published in the British Medical Journal 1997 Oct 18;315(7114):1018
 
Study title and authors:
Frequent consumption of red meat is not risk factor for cancer.
Cox BD, Whichelow MJ.
 
This paper can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9365318

This study investigated the association between diet and the risk of cancer. The study lasted for seven years and included 1,630 men and 2,030 women who were free of cancer at the start of the study.

Regarding red meat consumption, the study found:
(a) Men who consumed red meat everyday had an ~18% reduced risk of cancer compared to men who consumed red meat less than once a week.
(b) Women who consumed red meat everyday had an ~8% reduced risk of cancer compared to women who consumed red meat less than once a week.

The data from the study shows that men and women who consume higher amounts of red meat have a reduced risk of cancer.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Rosuvastatin (Crestor) is associated with a 2.8-fold increased risk of lung cancer

This study was published in the Libyan Journal of Medicine 2012 Dec 27;7(0):1-3
 
Study title and authors:
Statins use and female lung cancer risk in Taiwan.
Lai SW, Liao KF, Lin CL, Sung FC, Cheng YH.
School of Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan; Department of Family Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23272648

This study investigated the assoiation between statins and lung cancer in women. The study included 1,117 women with newly diagnosed lung cancer, average age 66.5 years, who were compared to 4,468 age-matched women without lung cancer.

The study found:
(a) Statin use was associated with a 7% increased risk of lung cancer.
(b) Rosuvastatin (Crestor) use of over 12 months duration was associated with a 2.8-fold increased risk of lung cancer.

The data from the study reveals that statin use is associated with higher rates of lung cancer.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Low-fat, low-cholesterol diets increase the risk of heart disease

This study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation 1990 Jan;85(1):144-51
 
Study title and authors:
A low-fat diet decreases high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels by decreasing HDL apolipoprotein transport rates.
Brinton EA, Eisenberg S, Breslow JL.
Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2104877

Scientific evidence suggests that high levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and apolipoproteins A-I may offer protection from heart disease, see here, here and here. Other studies reveal that high triglyceride levels are associated with heart disease see here and here.

This study compared the effects of a high-fat diet and a low-fat diet on heart disease risk factors. The study included 13 subjects who were kept on either a high-fat or low-fat diet for four weeks each.

The fat and cholesterol content of the diets comprised of:
(i) 41.9% fat of which 23.6% was saturated fat + 215 mg of cholesterol per 100 calories (high-fat diet).
(ii) 8.6% fat of which 2.1% was saturated fat + 40 mg of cholesterol per 100 calories (low-fat diet).

The study found:
(a) Those on the low-fat diet had 29% lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol compared to those on the high-fat diet.
(b) Those on the low-fat diet had 23% lower levels of apolipoproteins A-I compared to those on the high-fat diet.
(c) Those on the low-fat diet had 32% higher levels of triglycerides compared to those on the high-fat diet.

The results from this study reveal that a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet increases the risk factors associated with heart disease compared to a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Statin use associated with increased risk of brain hemorrhage after stroke treatment

This study was published in Stroke 2009 May;40(5):1729-37
 
Study title and authors:
Prior statin use, intracranial hemorrhage, and outcome after intra-arterial thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke.
Meier N, Nedeltchev K, Brekenfeld C, Galimanis A, Fischer U, Findling O, Remonda L, Schroth G, Mattle HP, Arnold M.
Department of Neurology, Inselspital, University Hospital Bern and University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19265056

Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked. Intra-arterial thrombolysis is a medical intervention that breaks down the blockages by pharmacological means. A complication of intra-arterial thrombolysis is intracranial (brain) hemorrhage.

The study evaluated the influence of statin pretreatment and cholesterol levels on the incidence of intracranial hemorrhage in 311 patients with acute ischemic stroke receiving intra-arterial thrombolysis treatment.

The study found:
(a) The cholesterol levels of patients who had an intracranial hemorrhage were 2.5% lower than patients who did not have an intracranial hemorrhage.
(b) Statin uses had a 210% increased risk of an intracranial hemorrhage compared to nonusers.
(c) Three months after their stroke, statin users had a 59% increased risk of death compared to nonusers.

The study shows that prior statin use is associated with a higher frequency of intracranial hemorrhage after intra-arterial thrombolysis treatment for ischemic stroke.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Professor says that long-term consumption of plant sterol-enriched margarines may increase cardiovascular risk

This study was published in the British Medical Journal Case Reports 2009;2009. pii: bcr10.2008.1108

Study title and authors:
Extravascular lipid deposit (xanthelasma) induced by a plant sterol-enriched margarine.
Vergès B, Athias A, Petit JM, Brindisi MC.
Hôpital du Bocage, 2 Bd Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, Dijon 21000, France.

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21822448

A 59 year old woman consumed a plant sterol-enriched margarine of 20 g/day (Fruit d’Or Pro-activ margarine, containing 8% phytosterols), corresponding to 1.6 g/day phytosterols.

(i) After 18 months of regular consumption of plant sterol-enriched margarine, the woman developed xanthelasma. (Xanthelasma are fatty lumps, which tend to form near the inner corners of the upper and lower eyelids).
(ii) The woman's phytosterol levels were significantly increased (165 μmol/l); (normal is less than 25 μmol/l).
(iii) The woman discontinued her consumption of plant sterol-enriched margarine. Three months later, her phytosterol levels were normal (20 μmol/l).

Professor Bruno Verges, who headed this investigation, concluded: "The increase in plasma phytosterol concentrations due to plant sterol-enriched margarines could be harmful, and we cannot exclude that long-term consumption of plant sterol-enriched margarines may increase cardiovascular risk".

Comparison of levels of phytosterols in vegetables, fruit and plant sterol-enriched margarines

The average phytosterol content of vegetables is 14 mg per 100 grams. Vegetables with the highest content include brussels sprouts at 43 mg per 100 grams and cauliflower at 40 mg per 100 grams.

The average phytosterol content of fruits is 16 mg per 100 grams. Fruits with the highest content include passion fruit at 44 mg per 100 grams and oranges at 24 mg per 100 grams. See here.

The phytosterol content of plant sterol-enriched margarine is much higher:
Take Control Spread 11,784 mg per 100 grams.
Fruit d’Or Pro-activ margarine 8,000 mg per 100 grams. (Fruit d'Or is also sold as Flora and Becel).
Benecol 6,070 mg per 100 grams.

The presence of phytosterols in very small quantities in fruit and vegetables suggests that they may be beneficial to health in very small quantities. However the phytosterol content of plant sterol-enriched margarines are higher by an order of magnitude of up to 841 times than the average vegetable.

This abnormally large increase in phytosterol consumption highlights the potential risk of toxicity that may be caused by excess phytosterols in plant sterol-enriched margarines.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Statins increase the risk of muscle adverse reactions

This study was published in Muscle and Nerve 2011 Dec;44(6):877-81

Study title and authors:
Prevalence and risk factors of muscle complications secondary to statins.
El-Salem K, Ababneh B, Rudnicki S, Malkawi A, Alrefai A, Khader Y, Saadeh R, Saydam M.
Department of Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid 22110, Jordan. khalidelsalem@hotmail.com

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22102457

The aim of the study was to investigate the prevalence of muscle complications among patients using statins. The study included 345 patients receiving statins who were compared with an age- and gender-matched control group of 85 nonusers.

The study found that statin users had a 256% increased risk of muscle adverse reactions compared to nonusers.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The importance of cholesterol to healthy cell functioning

This study was published in Nature Communications 2012 Dec 4;3:1249

Study title and authors:
Cholesterol modulates cell signaling and protein networking by specifically interacting with PDZ domain-containing scaffold proteins.
Sheng R, Chen Y, Yung Gee H, Stec E, Melowic HR, Blatner NR, Tun MP, Kim Y, Källberg M, Fujiwara TK, Hye Hong J, Pyo Kim K, Lu H, Kusumi A, Goo Lee M, Cho W.
Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60607, USA.

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23212378

Wonhwa Cho, professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and investigator on the study notes that inside the thin membrane of a cell, cholesterol is at high levels (30 to 40 percent) which suggests that it plays an important role in cellular processes.

Scaffolding proteins play an important role in cell signaling. A scaffold protein uses its physical structure to bring together other proteins so they can pass signals to each other. They have protein binding sites that offer the signaling proteins a place to latch onto.

The authors of the study found:
(a) Cholesterol binds to a region on the scaffold protein NHERF/EBP50 where one of its signaling partners also binds.
(b) Disruption of the cholesterol binding to that site stopped the signaling partner from activating.
(c) At least seven more scaffold proteins also bind cholesterol and have cholesterol-binding sites.

This shows the influential role cholesterol may play in cell signaling through direct interactions with scaffold proteins.

This suggests this way of interacting with cholesterol could be used by many proteins inside cells and highlights the importance of cholesterol to healthy cell functioning.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Doctor says that simvastatin should be considered among the causes of peripheral neuropathy

This study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 1995 May;58(5):625-8

Study title and authors:
Peripheral neuropathy associated with simvastatin.
Phan T, McLeod JG, Pollard JD, Peiris O, Rohan A, Halpern JP.
Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Australia.

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7745415

This paper describes four patients who developed sensorimotor neuropathy (sensorimotor neuropathy is a type of peripheral neuropathy that damages the motor nerves and the sensory nerves) while being treated with simvastatin and had complete or partial recovery after the withdrawal of statin treatment.

Case 1
A man aged 52 started treatment with simvastatin (10 mg/day).

Soon after he noticed generalised muscle weakness and fatigue. The weakness became progressively worse and he had difficulty in ascending stairs and running. After six months his right foot and subsequently his left foot became numb.

Treatment with simvastatin was withdrawn and on review six weeks later muscle cramps and weakness had improved although he still had the symptoms and signs of peripheral neuropathy.

On his last review, 18 months after the withdrawal of simvastatin, there had been furter clinical improvement.

Case 2
A women of 66 had started two years previously with simvastatin (10 mg/daily) which was subsequently gradually increased to 40 mg/daily after one year.

After the two years of statins the woman had weakness of the lower limbs and difficulty in rising from a chair. After three more months she was severely incapacitated and confined to a wheelchair. By four months she was unable to feed herself or to comb her hair and was admitted to a nursing home. She had pain in the fingers, the front of her legs, lower chest and abdominal wall.

Simvastatin was stopped and improvement followed. Nine months later she could feed herself, comb her hair and walk with the aid of a stick. Power in all muscle groups in the lower limbs also increased greatly.

Case 3
A women of 65 had started two years previously with simvastatin (10 mg/daily) which was subsequently increased to 20 mg/daily after one year.

After two years of statins the woman developed upper and lower limb weakness. Initially she had difficulty in rising out of chairs and climbing stairs and weakness progressed over a period of six weeks untill she was unable to lift her arms above her head, rise from a chair unaided, or walk without support. She complained of a burning sensation in her left foot.

Simvastatin treatment was withdrawn and four months later she had completely recovered clinically.

Case 4
A women ages 39 was given a daily dose of 10 mg of simvastatin.

Within 24 hours of starting the drug she developed pain in her right calf, and later pain in her right groin and pains down both arms. These symptoms were followed by the development of a sensation of pins and needles in her fingertips and later the toes.

Simvastatin was discontinued after a total dose of 180 mg. On review three months later she reported almost complete recovery from her symptoms except for a few patches of tenderness over her body.

Conclusion

The researchers suggest that statins may damage the peripheral nerves because they block the production of ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10). Without the presence of ubiquinone within the body’s cells, cellular energy cannot be generated or sustained.

The head of the study, Dr Tai Phan, concluded that: "Simvastatin should be considered among the causes of peripheral neuropathy".