Cholesterol-reducing medications called statins are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. In the U.S. alone, 21-million patients were prescribed statins to treat high cholesterol.  Statins are also used alone or with other medications, including insulin, to treat type 2 diabetes (a condition in which the body does not use insulin normally and, therefore, cannot control the amount of sugar in the blood).
Statins control the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood by decreasing the amount of glucose absorbed from food and the amount of glucose made by the liver. Statins also increase the body’s response to insulin, a natural substance that controls the amount of glucose in the blood.
Known side effects of daily statin medications
- Statins are prescribed to reduce the risk for heart disease but are linked to cognitive problems like memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion.
- In some patients, statins increase blood sugar levels and lead to diabetes.
- Statins are also linked to muscle pain believed to be caused by depletion of CoQ10, an enzyme that produces energy at the cellular level.
- Because daily medications are processed in the liver, statins may also lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Are you at risk? Find out with a simple blood test
Statins are a class of cholesterol-lowering medications prescribed to patients with high total cholesterol to reduce blood lipids and the risk of heart attack or stroke. However, use of statins is associated with certain side effects.
Statin use may lead to diabetes
Statin use has been connected to development of diabetes and memory loss. The link between use of statins and diabetes type 2 is not yet clear: some experts have found that statins decrease the impact of insulin; but research also shows that many patients that use statins neglect their diets and exercise. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends diabetes testing for adults with a body mass index over 25 and at least one added risk factor. Get the Diabetes Management Test.
Statins may deplete CoQ10—the energy enzyme
Statins are effective in blocking or reducing production of cholesterol in the liver, but are also responsible for blocking the production of Coenzyme Q10—the substance responsible for converting food to energy in human cells. Reduction in cellular levels of CoQ10 can cause side effects such as fatigue, weakened muscles and overall lack of energy.
Get the CoQ10 test if you take daily medications (statins) to control cholesterol.
Statins may lead to B12 deficiency and mental fogginess
There is evidence that daily statin medications may cause reduction in vitamin B12 absorption.  Vitamin B12 is essential for keeping nerves and red blood cells healthy. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, anemia, nerve damage and mental problems. Get the B12 with Folate Blood Test.
Statins may deplete vitamin D and cause muscle pain
Research links statin drugs to deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins D leading to “myopathy,” or muscle pain, which is a common side effect of statin therapy. Vitamin D is crucial for mineral metabolization. Deficiency is also linked to cancer as well as heart disease and autoimmune diseases. Get the Vitamin D 25 Hydroxy test.
Daily statins may lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
People who are obese with high cholesterol and hypertension and people who take daily medications are candidates for non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is a reversible condition in which portions of liver cells become saturated with heavy fat deposits.
People with large waistlines, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar should be tested for NAFLD.
Those who take daily medications for a variety of chronic conditions including hypertension, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, asthma and allergies, depression, seizures and other conditions should also consider the liver panel.
Get the SuperChemistry Heart (which includes the liver panel).
Statins may cause hormone imbalance– Metformin has also been shown to impact hormone levels including thyroid stimulating hormones (TSH), testosterone and luteinizing hormones. Get the TSH test. Get the PSA test.