Statins are currently touted as life saving drugs so much due their impact on cholesterol levels in the blood. Specifically are used to reduce the cholesterol levels of millions of people. Look back through older articles and you'll see that we don't necessarily agree that it's cholesterol that is the cause of the heart disease, merely a symptom, so we would question the effectiveness of treating the underlying cause. That said, this is the current way medical professions are treating heart disease so we'll explore them in a little more detail.
Statins are derived from plants and work in a way that blocks the process that enables our bodies to make cholesterol (yes our bodies actually make their own cholesterol!). By blocking the metabolic pathway that leads to the creation of cholesterol they will help lower the amount of cholesterol in our bodies. Most medical professionals will then argue that this reduces the risk of heart disease (no comment from us here...).
Unfortunately statins have been linked with a multitude of anecdotal side effects ranging from brain and memory issues to tissue and muscle breakdown. However there's not been much published research to support or refute the claims, until now. A recent study published in PLOS ONE by scientists at the University of Bristol tested the impact of some statins on the memory function of rats. The rats were given different statins for just 18 days to measure any impact, bearing in mind some people will be on statins for decades. The results showed that some statins impacted the memory function of the mice quite considerably within the 18 days.
How? The way statins work is to block the pathway that your body uses to make cholesterol. It's a very complex and lengthy pathway with many other chemicals being made in the process. For example, let’s say you start with chemical A and you need to go through a series of steps to get to chemical Z (cholesterol). Each chemical created at the intermittent steps takes a letter of the alphabet. So basically you'll end up creating every letter before getting to Z. The ideal medication would block the pathway between chemical Y and chemical Z, leaving all the other chemical levels alone. However, statins don't work that way. They actually stop the process way back down the line, let’s say at chemical M for example. This means that not only are your cholesterol levels affected but also the levels of the chemical formed all the way from M-Z. Some of these chemicals will be vital to other functions in your body such as memory, brain function, muscle health, nerve function and much more. So there's a chance that statins will not only lower your cholesterol but they could lead to memory problems, brain function problems, muscle pain / damage / breakdown and nervous system breakdown (trembles etc). These are just some of the anecdotal side effects, some of which have been proven (as mentioned above).
Our advice? Any time you're put onto a long term medication you really need to be very observant of yourself. You need to understand how you used to perform and how you perform as the days, weeks, months and years pass. If you notice that you're losing your memory, getting weaker or any other side effect then don't just blame it on getting old - speak to your doctor about your statin as it might be the cause. Please note the use of the word 'might' - we're not saying everyone will get problems, but it's worth asking the question of your doctor and seek their advice.