The raison d'etre of this website is to provide you with hard scientific information which may help you make informed decisions in your quest for health (so far I have blogged concise summaries of over 1,500 scientific studies and have had three books published).

My research is mainly focused on the effects of cholesterol, saturated fat and statin drugs on health. If you know anyone who is worried about their cholesterol levels and heart disease, or has been told to take statin drugs you could send them a link to this website, and to my statin or cholesterol or heart disease books.

David Evans

Independent Health Researcher

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Statins associated with increased bone loss in early postmenopausal women

This study was published in Osteoporosis International 2002 Jul;13(7):537-41

Study title and authors:
Relation of statin use and bone loss: a prospective population-based cohort study in early postmenopausal women.
Sirola J, Sirola J, Honkanen R, Kröger H, Jurvelin JS, Mäenpää P, Saarikoski S.
University of Kuopio, Research Institute of Public Health, Finland.

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12111013

This study assessed the effects of statin use on the change in bone mineral density in early postmenopausal women. The study measured annual change in spine and thigh bone mineral density in 620 women aged 53-64 years who were divided into four groups:
Group 1: 55 who had continuous use of statins
Group 2: 63 who had occasional statin use.
Group 3: 142 non-users of statins who had "high" cholesterol.
Group 4: 360 non-users of statins who did not have "high" cholesterol.

The study found:
(a) In all groups spine bone mineral density increased whereas thigh bone mineral density decreased.
(b) Both groups of non-users had higher increases in spine bone mineral density compared to the groups of statin users. (High cholesterol non-users had highest increase).
(c) Both groups of non-users had smaller decreases in thigh bone mineral density compared to the groups of statin users. (High cholesterol non-users had smallest decrease).
(d) The non-users of statins who had "high" cholesterol had a 79% higher increase in spine bone mineral density compared to the continuous statin users.
(e) The non-users of statins who had "high" cholesterol had a 34% smaller decrease in thigh bone mineral density compared to the continuous statin users.

The results from the study suggest statin use is associated with increased bone loss in early postmenopausal women.

An interesting finding noted by the researchers is the potential for "high" cholesterol itself to be protective against osteoporosis and fractures, as the smallest annual bone loss and greatest gain of lumbar bone were seen in those with "high" cholesterol.

Links to other studies:
Statins and the risk of bone fracture in postmenopausal women
Statin use increases the risk of osteoarthritis and joint pain by 26%
Statin use linked to musculoskeletal diseases, joint pain and injuries



Friday, 5 February 2016

Professor says it's a serious concern that statins make people less likely to exercise

This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine 2014 Jun 9

Study title and authors:
Statins and Physical Activity in Older Men: The Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study.
Lee DS, Markwardt S, Goeres L, Lee CG, Eckstrom E, Williams C, Fu R, Orwoll E, Cawthon PM, Stefanick ML, Mackey D, Bauer DC, Nielson CM.
Department of Pharmacy Practice, Oregon State University/Oregon Health and Science University College of Pharmacy, Portland.

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24911216

The objective of the study was to determine the effects of statins on physical activity. The study lasted for nine years and included 4,137 men (989 men (24%) were statin users and 3148 (76%) were nonusers) aged 65 years and older. The Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) was used to measure physical activity. (A higher PASE score indicates a higher level of activity).

The study found:
(a) At the start of the study statin users had a 5.8 points lower PASE score than non users.
(b) PASE score declined by 2.5 points per year for non users.
(c) PASE score declined by 2.8 points per year for prevalent users of statins.
(d) PASE score declined by 3.4 points per year for new users of statins.
(e) Statin users engaged in 5.4 fewer minutes in moderate physical activity per day than non users.
(f) Statin users engaged in 0.6 fewer minutes in vigorous physical activity per day than non users.
(g) Statin users engaged in 7.6 more minutes in sedentary behaviour per day than non users.

Lead author of the study, David Lee, an assistant professor in the Orgeon State University and the Oregon Health and Science College of Pharmacy, said: "Physical activity in older adults helps to maintain a proper weight, prevent cardiovascular disease and helps to maintain physical strength and function. We're trying to find ways to get older adults to exercise more, not less. It's a fairly serious concern if use of statins is doing something that makes people less likely to exercise".

Links to other studies:
Statins block the ability of exercise to improve fitness levels
Statins, fibrates and beta blockers increase fatigue during moderate intensity exercise
Rhabdomyolysis occurring under statins after intense physical activity in a marathon runner



Monday, 1 February 2016

Doctor concludes LDL cholesterol may be required to maintain or support memory function

This study was published in the Journal of Alzheimers Disease 2013;34(1):273-9

Study title and authors:
Very old adults with better memory function have higher low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and lower triglyceride to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratios: KOCOA Project.
Katsumata Y, Todoriki H, Higashiuesato Y, Yasura S, Ohya Y, Willcox DC, Dodge HH.
Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA. katsumat@ohsu.edu

This paper can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23207484

This study investigated the association between cholesterol levels and memory function. The study included 193 participants, aged 80 and older.

Regarding LDL cholesterol levels, the study found those with better memory function had significantly higher LDL cholesterol levels.

Dr Katsumata concluded: "LDL cholesterol, especially large, buoyant LDL may be required to maintain or support memory function among older people."

Links to other studies:
High cholesterol levels boost memory function
Low cholesterol levels associated with slow mental processing in students
High cholesterol levels are associated with higher intelligence

Thursday, 28 January 2016

What happens to your immune system when you take statins?

This study was published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology 2010 Mar;87(3):433-42
 
Study title and authors:
Opposite effects of simvastatin on the bactericidal and inflammatory response of macrophages to opsonized S. aureus.
Benati D, Ferro M, Savino MT, Ulivieri C, Schiavo E, Nuccitelli A, Pasini FL, Baldari CT.
Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Siena, Via Aldo Moro 2, 53100 Siena, Italy.
 
This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19892847
 
Phagocytes are white blood cells that protect the body by ingesting harmful toxins, bacteria and dead and dying cells. Cytokines (Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa) and Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), are molecules that trigger and sustain inflammation.
 
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that is frequently found in the human respiratory tract and on the skin. It is a common cause of skin infections (e.g. boils), respiratory disease (e.g. sinusitis), and food poisoning.
 
This study investigated the effects of simvastatin on the immune system. The study used human phagocytes that were pretreated with carrier or simvastatin, alone or in association with mevalonate, and subsequently incubated with Staphylococcus aureus.
 
The study found:
(a) Phagocyte activity was blocked by simvastatin. This effect by simvastatin was reversed by mevalonate.
(b) TNFa and COX-2 activity was enhanced by simvastatin compared with carrier-treated controls. This effect by simvastatin was reversed by mevalonate.
(c) Mevalonate is inhibited by statins.
 
The results of the study show that statins impair the ability of phagocytes to kill dangerous pathogens, but enhance the production of cytokines that cause excessive inflammation.
 
Benati concludes: "By enhancing TNFa and COX-2 production while impairing the mechanisms responsible for bacterial killing in macrophages exposed to opsonized bacteria, simvastatin may contribute to establish a state of undesirable, “gratuitous” inflammation in chronically treated patients".

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Statins associated with 30% increased risk of death in kidney transplant patients

This paper was published in the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews 2009 Apr 15;(2):CD005019
 
Study title and authors:
HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) for kidney transplant recipients.
Navaneethan SD, Perkovic V, Johnson DW, Nigwekar SU, Craig JC, Strippoli GF.
Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Glickman Urological and Kidney institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA. navanes@ccf.org
 
This paper can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19370615

This paper assessed the effects of statin therapy on kidney transplant recipients. The paper analysed the results of 14 studies with 3,045 participants that compared death rates of patients.

The analysis found that kidney transplant patients that received statins had a 30% increased risk of death compared to patients who did not take statins. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Doctor says statin use could be contributing to rising rates of cataract surgery

This study was published in Ophthalmic Epidemiology 2016 Jan 14:1-6

Study title and authors:
Statin Use and Incident Cataract Surgery: A Case-Control Study.
Erie JC, Pueringer MR, Brue SM, Chamberlain AM, Hodge DO.
Department of Ophthalmology , Mayo Clinic , Rochester , MN , USA.

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26766069

The purpose of the study was to determine the association between statin use and cataract surgery. The study included 6.024 participants aged 50 years and older who had first-eye cataract surgery, who were matched with control participants who had never had cataract surgery.

The study found:
(a) Cataract surgery was significantly associated with 29% increased odds of statin use in all participants
(b) Cataract surgery was significantly associated with 34% increased odds of statin use in women.
(c) Cataract surgery was significantly associated with 17% increased odds of statin use in men.  

Erie concluded: "Incident cataract surgery was associated with increased odds of statin use, and underscores the possibility that increasing statin use could be contributing to rising rates of cataract surgery."

Links to other studies:
Statin users have an increased risk of cataract
Statin use is significantly associated with cataract requiring surgical intervention
Adverse Effects of Statins

Friday, 15 January 2016

Analysis of 65 studies reveals low cholesterol levels are significantly associated with increased suicide risk

This study was published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience 2016 Jan;41(1):56-69

Study title and authors:
Serum lipid levels and suicidality: a meta-analysis of 65 epidemiological studies.
Wu S, Ding Y, Wu F, Xie G, Hou J, Mao P.
Research Center for Clinical Medicine, the 302nd Hospital of PLA, Beijing, China

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26505144

This study was a systematic review of the scientific literature and meta-analysis to determine the association between cholesterol levels and suicide. The analysis included 65 studies with a total of 510,392 participants. The participants were categorized as follows:
(i) patients with various psychiatric diseases (e.g., depression, schizophrenia, personality disorder, drug and alcohol addictions) with suicidality, who were defined as suicidal patients;
(ii) patients with various psychiatric diseases without suicidality, who were defined as nonsuicidal patients;
(iii) healthy participants without any psychiatric disease and suicidality, who were defined as healthy controls.

The study found:
(a) Compared with the nonsuicidal patients, suicidal patients had significantly lower cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels.  
(b) Compared with the healthy controls, suicidal patients had significantly lower cholesterol levels, HDL cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol levels.
(c) Compared with those with the highest cholesterol levels, participants with lower cholesterol levels had a 112% higher risk of suicidality, including a 123% higher risk of suicide attempt and an 85% higher risk of suicide completion.

Links to other studies:
Suicide attempters have low cholesterol levels
Low cholesterol is associated with major depressive disorder and death from suicide
Low cholesterol is significantly associated with schizophrenia