Wondering if cholesterol lowering drugs are making you stupid?… Study shows they may be

Old Worried GuyThe Wall Street Journal published the first allegations of cholesterol lowering statin drugs being associated with dementia. In the article, Dr. Orli Etingin (vice chairman of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center) stated that Lipitor “makes women stupid.”

Dr. Etingin was referring to several of her patients using statins that were unable to focus, recall words and displayed other cognitive deficiencies. According to Dr. Etingin, the impairments vanished when use of the statin drug was discontinued and returned when the statins were reintroduced.

Two British experts in Alzheimers and dementia, Louise Morse and Roger Hitchins, write that the most common causes of memory loss they see in both men and women are due to depression, poor nutrition and statin drug use.

Some doctors have suspected that certain cognitive disruptions are triggered when statin drugs (like Simvastatin) cross the blood brain barrier and interfere with the central nervous system. Another possibility is that because the brain is composed largely of cholesterol, lowering cholesterol could slow thought and memory connections. Statins have also been linked to abnormal tau proteins forming in the brain, as seen in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

A new study may provide even more disturbing evidence as to the impact statins have on cognitive function.

This fascinating study published July 2008 in Glia by Dr. Steven Goldman and Dr. Fraser Sim discovered that statin drugs inhibit a specific type of brain cell.

These specialized brain cells are called glial progenitor cells. Glial progenitor cells function much like stem cells. They spring into action when the brain has experienced some type of distress and transform into any type of cell needed by the brain. These adaptive cells help restore white matter after strokes, infection, trauma, or inflammation brought on by the aging process, or diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Statins negatively impact glial progenitor cells by switching off their adaptive capabilities. After statin exposure the glial progenitor cells permanently became oligodendrocytes cells.

The study concluded that: “This might reduce the available progenitor pool and hence degrade the long-term regenerative competence of the adult white matter.” Furthermore, Dr. Sims states: “Researchers need to look very carefully at what happens if these cells have been depleted prematurely.”

These findings provide an enhanced awareness among neurologists and cardiologists of how cholesterol lowering statins drugs impact the brain. Several studies have attempted to show that statins provide some protection against dementia, but that evidence has been inconclusive at best. Meanwhile, some physicians are expressing concern that statins may actually increase the risk of dementia.

Resident of San Diego, 69 year old Jane Brunzie, was so forgetful that her daughter was looking into Alzheimer’s care and refused to let her babysit for her 9-year-old granddaughter. So Jane stopped taking her statin.  “Literally, within eight days, I was back to normal — it was that dramatic,” says Mrs. Brunzie.

Jane Brunzie goes on to say “I feel very blessed — I got about 99% of my memory back, but I worry about people like me who are starting to lose their words who may think they have just normal aging and it may not be.”

Interesting books, sites and  articles on statins:

Statin Side Effects – Happy Healthy Long Life by Healthy Medical Librarian

Lipitor, Thief of Memory by Dr. Duane Graveline

Statin Effects Study by Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb

Statins – The Blog of by Dr. Michael R. Eades

Ending the Cholesterol Heart Disease Myth by Andreas Moritz

CoQ10 – Did You Know Statin Drugs Block this Heart Energy Catalyst? by J Lange


  1. Wondering if cholesterol lowering drugs are making you stupid … | Memory Loss Medication - NineSixFive said,

    August 16, 2009 at 9:07 am

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  2. Stephen Guy-Clarke said,

    August 20, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Lynne McTaggart, in her book What Doctors Don’t Tell You – The Truth about the Dangers of Modern Medicine, points to a number of additional side effects such as a decrease in serotonin, a brain hormone which normally keeps harmful impulses, such as aggressive behaviour and depression, in check. Californian researchers found that depression was three times more common in those with low blood cholesterol than in elderly patients over 70 with higher blood cholesterol levels. Women placed on very low-fat diets have lower levels of tryptophan, (an essential amino acid acting as a precursor of serotonin). There is evidence that patients suffering from severe depression have low levels of tryptophan.

  3. Engineered for Health » Blog Archive » Which is better: Isotonic or tablet OPC-3? said,

    July 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    […] Another clinical study found Isotonix OPC-3® dramatically reduced major cardiovascular risk factors in 61 individuals with metabolic syndrome over 2 months. Improvement occurred in blood pressure, total cholesterol, and fasting blood glucose. Supplementation with Isotonix OPC-3® resulted in a 52.1% drop in C-reactive proteins. C-reactive proteins are inflammation markers which predict cardiovascular risk. Comparatively, testing has shown that statin drugs produce 13-14% reductions in C-reactive proteins and often carry troubling side effects. […]

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