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Do Statins Speed up Aging… Or Slow It?

Do commonly used cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) speed up the aging process? That’s what a media scare said yesterday:

I’m no fan of the common over-prescribing of drugs like statins, but this alarm is not too believable.

What the researchers showed was that statin drugs make stem cells – that rejuvenate the body – divide more slowly in a test tube. This could be expected, as statins slow access to the cholesterol building blocks needed for cell division.

However, slowing the division of stem cells is not necessarily speeding up the aging process (even if it might feel that way). As stem cells have a limited number of divisions it could actually preserve stem cells. It could be argued to likely slow the aging process.

Don’t believe every new alarm in the media. They are biased toward new shocking, especially negative, scary headlines. That’s what brings readers.

Bottom line on statins

Statins have plenty of proven side effects – like the risk of muscle pain, weakness, feeling tired and increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand they do reduce the risk of heart disease.

Thus statins should only be used by people with really high risk of heart disease, meaning mostly people who already have proven heart disease, like people who’ve already had a heart attack.

Statins are not vitamin pills. These are potent drugs, with a real risk of significant side effects.

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10 Comments

  1. Vicente
    Do they reduce the risk of heart disease?

    David Diamond says they don't in this video.

    He also wrote this.

    Reply: #2
  2. I agree the reduction in cardiovascular disease with is small in absolute numbers and larger in relative risk. I also agree that pharmaceutical companies, as could be expected, do what they can to exaggerate the benefits while downplaying side effects.

    But even Diamond and Ravnskov seem to agree in their paper that there is a proven benefit in reducing heart disease in secondary prevention?

    Reply: #3
  3. Vicente
    Reply: #4
  4. So statins only save some of these people from dying? Saving a few lives is still not bad, is it?
    Replies: #5, #8
  5. Vicente
    Patients should know the real numbers: 1% reduced risk is not 36%

    1-2 out of 100 may avoid CVD death.
    98-99 out of 100 risk their health for no benefit.

    How many of them will get cancer?
    How many of them will get diabetes?
    How many of them will get other complications?

    Are you really saving lives or are you just harming them for no good reason?

    Reply: #6
  6. Patients should know the real numbers: 1% reduced risk is not 36%

    I completely agree that patients should also be told the number they are most likely to completely understand, i.e. the 1% absolute reduction in risk.

  7. Mark
    Dr. Malcom Kendrick author of "the Great Cholesterol Con" has some great information on this, including referencing the meta-analysis study of 350,000 showing that there is no link, and Higher Cholesterol is healthier.
    http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/the-great-cholesterol-myth
    http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.ab...

    Zoe Harcombe has great information!
    http://www.zoeharcombe.com/the-knowledge/we-have-got-cholesterol-comp...

    So why the "Con"....$125 Billion.....that's what Lipitor has raked in...

  8. bill
    I fear you misunderstand the ramifications of
    the issue. I also recommend reading Dr Malcolm
    Kendrick's book" The Great Cholesterol Con."
  9. Simon
    An alternative explanation. A women comes to me for a birth control pill. I give her a Tic Tac and ask her to hold it between her legs during intercourse. arguing that the subsequent rate of pregnancy is reduced by 1%. Would I be taken seriously as a doctor or would I be open to scorn and ridicule for plugging such an ineffective treatment?

    Or you come to me with persistent frequent migraine headaches, and I give a pill that has a 1% chance of working, even though it has significant expense and 4X the risk of side effects.

    Or I ask people to get about with 5 watt microwave transmitters to their ears, expecting that the heating on the blood brain barrier will not cause brain tumours to develop.

  10. Tim H
    Since it is known that statins do increase the risk of T2D and T2 diabetics have around 5 times the risk of heart attacks, it is difficult to believe that statins actually reduce heart attacks. Perhaps its a question of how long they are studied. The statin to T2D to heart attack sequence might take long enough to escape detection by studies.

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