The cholesterol-lowering statin drug Lipitor has become the best-selling drug of all time. This class of drugs garnered so much enthusiasm in the medical community that some U.S. health authorities reportedly advocated for statins to be added to the public water supply like fluoride is. One cardiology journal even offered the tongue-in-cheek suggestion for fast-food restaurants to offer “McStatin” condiments along with ketchup packets to help neutralize the effects of unhealthy dietary choices.
For those at high risk for heart disease who are unwilling or unable to bring down their cholesterol levels naturally with dietary changes, the benefits of statins generally outweigh the risks. These drugs do have side effects, though, such as the potential for liver or muscle damage. The reason some doctors routinely order regular blood tests for patients on these drugs is to monitor for liver toxicity. We can also test the blood for the presence of muscle breakdown products, but biopsies reveal that people on statins can show evidence of muscle damage even if their blood work is normal and they exhibit no symptoms of muscle soreness or weakness. The decline in muscular strength and performance sometimes associated with these drugs can place our seniors at increased risk for falls and injury.
More recently, other concerns have been raised, including the potential for brain-related side effects, such as memory loss and confusion. Statin drugs also appear to increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Why accept any risk at all if you can lower your cholesterol naturally? Plant-based diets have been shown to lower cholesterol just as effectively as first-line statin drugs, but without the risks. In fact, the “side effects” of healthy eating tend to be good—less cancer and diabetes risk and protection of the liver and brain.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
Popular Videos for Statins
All Videos for Statins
Are PCSK9 Inhibitors for LDL Cholesterol Safe and Effective?
Those with genetic mutations that leave them with an LDL cholesterol of 30 live exceptionally long lives. Can we duplicate that effect with drugs?
How Low Should You Go for Ideal Cholesterol Levels?
Having a so-called normal cholesterol in a society where it’s normal to drop dead of a heart attack isn’t necessarily a good thing.
How Much Longer Do You Live on Statins?
What are the pros and cons of relative risk versus absolute risk versus number-needed-to-treat versus average postponement of death taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs?
The True Benefits vs. Side Effects of Statins
A Mayo Clinic visualization tool can help you decide if cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are right for you.
Are Doctors Misleading Patients About Statin Risks and Benefits?
What is the dirty little secret of drugs for lifestyle diseases? If patients knew the truth of how little these drugs actually worked, almost no one would agree to take them.
Who Should Take Statins?
How can you calculate your own personal heart disease risk and use it to determine if you should start on a cholesterol-lowering statin drug?
How Common Are Muscle Side Effects from Statins?
Why is the incidence of side effects from statins so low in clinical trials but appear to be so high out in the real world?
Oxidized Cholesterol 27HC May Explain 3 Breast Cancer Mysteries
Oxidized cholesterol (concentrated in products containing eggs, processed meat, and parmesan cheese) has cancer-fueling estrogenic effects on human breast cancer.
Does an Apple a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?
Which would save more lives: eating an apple a day or taking statin drugs?
Amla vs. Drugs for Cholesterol, Inflammation, & Blood-Thinning
Extracts of amla (Indian gooseberry) were pitted head-to-head against cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and the blood thinners aspirin and Plavix.
The Best Food for High Cholesterol
Are the apparently amazing benefits of amla—dried Indian gooseberries—too good to be true?
Should All Children Have Their Cholesterol Checked?
The current generation of American kids may be one of the first generations to be less healthy and have shorter lifespans than their parents.