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Statins Cause Serious Structural Muscle Damage

by: S. L. Baker

(NaturalNews) If there is a super star in Big Pharma's list of money making drugs, it may well be the group of medications known as statins. The New York Times reported last year that statins are, in fact, the biggest selling drugs in the world. Their names, like Lipitor and Crestor, are familiar from countless television and magazine ads and almost everyone knows someone taking a statin. Promoted widely as safe, they are actually known to cause a litany of potential side effects. For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) web site notes that about one in 1,000 of those taking statins suffer from muscle pain. Usually, these aches go away. But not always. And now new research shows that in some people statins cause serious structural damage to muscles.

The study, just published in CMAJ (the Canadian Medical Association Journal) suggests that patients who are taking statins and who complain to their doctors about muscle tenderness or pain could well be describing severe muscle problems due to the drugs. Although muscle damage is usually associated with elevated levels of an enzyme called creatine phosphokinase, the CMAJ research shows that's not always the case. And it may take muscle biopsies to show that underlying structural injury has occurred.

The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Bern, Switzerland and the Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. The research team investigated muscle biopsies from 83 patients. Twenty of these had never taken statins. The results showed significant muscle injury only in people who had taken statin drugs. Perhaps what was most surprising is that several people who were no longer taking statins were found to still have significant structural muscle damage.

"Although in clinical practice, the majority of patients with muscle symptoms improve rapidly after cessation of therapy, our findings support that a subgroup of patients appears to be more susceptible to statin-associated myotoxicity, suffering persistent structural injury," Dr. Annette Draeger from the University of Bern and her coauthors wrote in the CMAJ article.

The study did not address whether statins might cause other significant body-wide damage. However, it is interesting to note that the very organ statins are supposed to protect, the heart, is a muscle. And that raises troublesome questions about possible long term, not-yet-known side effects statin drugs may have on the heart itself.

The researchers did note in a statement to the media that there is "a need to evaluate alternative treatment strategies for patients with significant muscle symptoms." As Natural News readers are well aware, there are already well-known natural health strategies that lower cholesterol levels safely, without any possibility of muscle damage. For example, previous research has shown certain foods, including tofu, almonds, cereal fiber and plant sterols, can lower total cholesterol and LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, better than statins. Weight loss, increased intake of Omega-3 fatty acids and exercise are also drug-free strategies that lower cholesterol safely.

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