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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Cholesterol Pill Taken by Thousands Causes Cancer

By Dr. Mercola

A pill intended to lower cholesterol levels has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing data from a trial which found a “larger percentage” of patients treated with the drug Inegy died of cancer. The FDA is expected to issue its conclusions within six months.

Inegy combines the widely-used statin drug simvastatin with a new medication called ezetimibe. Ezetimibe works in a different way from statins. Statins block cholesterol made in the liver, while ezetimibe blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the gut.

Sources:

The Daily Mail August 22, 2008

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Back in 2004, the U.S. government's National Cholesterol Education Program panel advised those at risk for heart disease to attempt to reduce their LDL (bad) cholesterol to very low levels. It’s been a health disaster ever since.

Before 2004, a 130-milligram LDL cholesterol level was considered healthy. The updated guidelines, however, recommended levels of less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at veryhigh risk.

These updated guidelines instantly increased the market for cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Not surprisingly, eight of the nine doctors who were on the approval panel for these absurdly low guidelines had been making money from the companies of the cholesterol-lowering drugs they were suddenly pushing onto a much larger (oftentimes healthy) segment of the population.

Now, in order to get to these outrageous and dangerous low levels usually requires multiple cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as Inegy, which combines two cholesterol-lowering drugs into one.

Folks, it is VERY rare for anyone to need a cholesterol-lowering drug, let alone multiples.

Among the more than 20,000 patients who have come to my clinic, only four or five of them truly needed these drugs, as they had genetic challenges that required it. But if you or someone you know is taking them, odds are very high -- greater than 100 to 1 -- that you or they don't need them, and they may even create more health challenges than what you started out with.

Statins Actually INCREASE Your Risk of Heart Disease

Inegy combines two different medications -- simvastatin and ezetimibe -- into one pill.

Although the Daily Mail article above claims statins “should lead to a drop in heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems,” that is not necessarily the case.

Statin drugs can actually increase your risk of heart disease because they deplete your body of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which can lead to heart failure. They have also been linked to:

  • Weakness
  • Muscle aches
  • An increase in cancer risk
  • Immune system suppression
  • Serious degenerative muscle tissue condition (rhabdomyolysis)
  • Potential increase in liver enzymes so patients must be monitored for normal liver function

Statins Have Been Linked to Increased Cancer Risk for More Than a Decade

I reported that statins were linked to raised cancer risk as far back as 2000, when research indicated that besides lowering levels of harmful cholesterol, the drugs could also promote the growth of new blood vessels. And, although this effect may help to prevent heart attacks and other forms of heart disease, it may have the potential to promote cancer as well by increasing the growth of blood vessels in cancerous tumors.

Additionally, back then, tests in human cell samples and in rabbits, showed that simvastatin (Zocor) seemed to activate a pathway through which cells communicate and act very similar to a naturally-occurring growth factor.

But the statin-cancer connection had been discussed even prior to that. A review published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association in 1996 stated:

All members of the two most popular classes of lipid-lowering drugs (the fibrates and the statins) cause cancer in rodents, in some cases at levels of animal exposure close to those prescribed to humans. ... Longer-term clinical trials and careful postmarketing surveillance during the next several decades are needed to determine whether cholesterol-lowering drugs cause cancer in humans. In the meantime, the results of experiments in animals and humans suggest that lipid-lowering drug treatment, especially with the fibrates and statins, should be avoided except in patients at high short-term risk of coronary heart disease.

Is “Bad” Cholesterol Really Bad?

It’s important to remember that you actually NEED cholesterol in your body – including LDL, or so-called “bad” cholesterol -- in order to maintain your health. There is actually no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol. Both HDL and LDL cholesterol perform vital functions in your body, which is why it’s actually dangerous to bring your LDL levels down too low.

HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein) are actually proteins that transport the cholesterol to and from your tissues. Cholesterol in turn is a precursor to steroid hormones. For example, you can’t make testosterone or estrogen, cortisol, DHEA or pregnenolone, or a multitude of other steroid hormones that are necessary for health, without cholesterol.

Even more importantly, you can’t make new cell membranes without cholesterol.

So, the major reasons your body makes cholesterol in the first place, and why you have LDL, is to take the cholesterol to the tissue so you can make new cells or repair old damaged ones.

Why is High Cholesterol Equated with High Heart Disease Risk?

If your arteries are being damaged on a chronic basis your cholesterol levels will remain chronically elevated. This is NOT the problem in and of itself. Rather, this is your body’s natural and purposeful response to healing.

The REAL problem is what’s causing the damage in the first place, such as having chronically elevated blood sugar. The sugar molecule, in fact, causes far more damage than any other molecule.

If you decide to take cholesterol-lowering drugs instead of addressing the underlying problem of excess sugar in your blood stream, you are not only stopping your body’s natural healing process, you are also exposing yourself to drugs that are loaded with side effects, such as those mentioned earlier.

The chronic damage being done to your arteries in turn leads to inflammation. This is how your body responds to invaders.

However, when inflammation becomes chronic, your body is in a constantly irritated state, and aside from likely having elevated cholesterol levels, you’re also going to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP).

CRP is a marker of inflammation in your body, and it’s also a very good indicator of your risk of heart disease.

What Drug Companies Don’t Want You to Know About LDL

Now, it’s important to realize that there are different sizes of LDL cholesterol particles, and it’s the LDL particle size that is relevant, as small particles get stuck easily and causes more inflammation.

Unfortunately, most people don’t hear about that part, and very rarely, if ever, get it tested. Naturally, the drug companies really don’t want you to know that part of the science, because it would severely limit the number of people going on cholesterol-lowering drugs, since statins do not modulate the size of the particles.

The only way to make sure your LDL particles are large enough to not get stuck and cause inflammation and damage is through your diet.

In fact, it’s one of the major things that insulin does. If you eat properly, which is really the only known good way to regulate LDL particle size, then it does the right thing; it takes the cholesterol to your tissues, the HDL takes it back to your liver, and nothing gets stuck causing damage.

So rather than worry about your cholesterol levels, you really need to work lowering inflammation, which can be caused by numerous things, including:

  • Oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked, scrambled eggs)
  • Eating lots of sugar and grains
  • Eating foods cooked at high temperatures
  • Eating trans fats
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Emotional stress
So, as you can see, when you get to the bottom of it, the real “villain” is often an unhealthy lifestyle, characterized by a heavy reliance on sugars, processed, highly cooked foods, and insufficient amounts of exercise – not “high cholesterol.”

Related Links:

Cholesterol Drugs Actually Cause Heart Disease

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