Those Little Cellular Power Houses – Look After Them

Mitochondria: Structures located in the cell’s cytoplasm outside the nucleus. Mitochondria are responsible for energy production. Each consists of two sets of membranes: a smooth, continuous outer coat and an inner membrane arranged in tubules or in folds that form plate-like double membranes (cristae). The mitochondria are the principal energy source of the cell. They not only convert nutrients into energy but also perform many other specialized tasks.

In a human cell these little powerhouses are extremely important to your very life. I mean with no power to drive the cell, or a damaged powerhouse, you would expect (at least) lethargy, possible cell death, and definitely illness. 

Many things can do damage to these essential structures, but the focus of this page will be the damage Statin Drugs can and often do within the human body.

Duane Graveline MD, MPH has written extensively on the subject of Cholesterol Lowering medications – Statins. He is one of millions of people around the globe who has suffered serious side effects through taking this class of medication to lower his ‘numbers’….. AKA Cholesterol Numbers – Lipid Profile.

He writes of many patients on statins who go to their doctors complaining (after commencing statin drugs) of tiredness and muscle aches and pains. Of course their doctors merely ‘toss them off’ by saying ‘you must expect these kinds of things once you turn 50.’ It really irks me when I read that because I was well under 50 years of age when I was first prescribed these drugs and had side effects. Yet I was still told I was not ageing very well and should get used to it!

So how does this so-called ‘wonder drug’ actually damage part of your cellular structure? May I suggest you read the entire series Doc Graveline has available, for a complete understanding of what happens and why it happens. For now I will post a link to all parts of this series for you to follow at your leisure, I think once you have read this, you will have some weaponry for use when you next discuss matters with your doctor.

Duane Graveline MD MPH. Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut.  Retired Family Doctor

1.  Statin Drugs and Mitochondrial Damage – Introduction

2.  Statin Drugs Side Effects Review – Part 1

3.  Statin Drugs Side Effects Review – Part 2

4.  Statin Drugs Side Effects Review – Part 3  

5.  The Magic of Cholesterol

6.  The Special Importance of CoQ10

7.  Why L-Carnitine? 

8. From CoQ10 Inhibition to Mitochondrial Mutations 

9.  Anti-Oxidation and Mitochondrial Damage 1 of 2

10. Anti-Oxidation and Mitochondrial Damage 2 of 2

11. Statins and Mitochondrial Damage – Conclusion

We also have another wonderful advocate in the fight against Universal – in the water – use of Statin Drugs.

A paper co-authored by Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of UC San Diego’s Statin Study group cites nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), a class of drugs widely used to treat high cholesterol.

The result is a review paper, currently published in the on-line edition of American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs – that provides the most complete picture to date of reported side effects of statins, showing the state of evidence for each.  The paper also helps explain why some people have a higher risk than others for such adverse effects.

“Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs’ adverse side effects,” said Golomb.  “But cognitive problems and peripheral neuropathy, or pain or numbness in the extremities like fingers and toes, are also widely reported.” A spectrum of other problems, ranging from blood glucose elevations to tendon problems, can also occur as side effects from statins.

The paper cites clear evidence that higher statin doses or more powerful statins – those with a stronger ability to lower cholesterol – as well as certain genetic conditions, are linked to greater risk of developing side effects.

“Physician awareness of such side effects is reportedly low,” Golomb said.  “Being vigilant for adverse effects in their patients is necessary in order for doctors to provide informed treatment decisions and improved patient care.”

The paper also summarizes powerful evidence that statin-induced injury to the function of the body’s energy-producing cells, called mitochondria, underlies many of the adverse effects that occur to patients taking statin drugs.

Mitochondria produce most of the oxygen free radicals in the body, harmful compounds that “antioxidants” seek to protect against.  When mitochondrial function is impaired, the body produces less energy and more “free radicals” are produced.  Coenzyme Q10 (“Q10”) is a compound central to the process of making energy within mitochondria and quenching free radicals.  However, statins lower Q10 levels because they work by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production – the same pathway by which Q10 is produced.  Statins also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports Q10 and other fat-soluble antioxidants.

“The loss of Q10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage mitochondrial DNA,” said Golomb, who explained that loss of Q10 may lead to a greater likelihood of symptoms arising from statins in patients with existing mitochondrial damage – since these people especially rely on ample Q10 to help bypass this damage.  Because statins may cause more mitochondrial problems over time – and as these energy powerhouses tend to weaken with age—new adverse effects can also develop the longer a patient takes statin drugs.

“The risk of adverse effects goes up as age goes up, and this helps explain why,” said Golomb.  “This also helps explain why statins’ benefits have not been found to exceed their risks in those over 70 or 75 years old, even those with heart disease.”  High blood pressure and diabetes are linked to higher rates of mitochondrial problems, so these conditions are also clearly linked to a higher risk of statin complications, according to Golomb and co-author Marcella A. Evans, of UC San Diego and UC Irvine Schools of Medicine.

The connection between statins’ antioxidant properties and mitochondrial risk helps explain a complicated finding that statins can protect against the very same problems, in some people, to which they may predispose others – problems such as muscle and kidney function or heart arrhythmia.

Dr. Mercola has an article which states:

… fact that statin drugs oftentimes do not have any immediate side effects, and they are quite effective, capable of lowering cholesterol levels by 50 points or more. This makes it appear as though they’re benefiting your health, and health problems that appear down the line are frequently not interpreted as a side effect of the drug, but rather as brand new, separate health problems.

For starters, some of the possible consequences of taking statins in strong doses, or for a lengthy period of time, include:

  • Cognitive loss
  • Neuropathy
  • Anemia
  • Acidosis
  • Frequent fevers
  • Cataracts
  • Sexual dysfunction

Other serious and potentially life threatening side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • An increase in cancer risk
  • Immune system suppression
  • Serious degenerative muscle tissue condition (rhabdomyolysis)
  • Pancreatic dysfunction
  • Hepatic dysfunction. (Due to the potential increase in liver enzymes, patients must be monitored for normal liver function)

Further, adverse effects are dose dependent, and your health risks can be amplified by a number of factors, such as taking other drugs (which may increase statin potency), metabolic syndrome or thyroid disease.

If You Take Statins, You Must Take CoQ10

If you take statin drugs without taking CoQ10, your health is at serious risk. Unfortunately, this describes the majority of people who take them in the United States.

There are no official warnings in the U.S. regarding CoQ10 depletion from taking statin drugs, and many physicians fail to inform you about this problem as well. Labeling in Canada, however, clearly warns of CoQ10 depletion and even notes that this nutrient deficiency “could lead to impaired cardiac function in patients with borderline congestive heart failure.”

Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant compound that is central to the process of energy production within your mitochondria, and in the quenching of free radicals.

Statins have been found to impair mitochondrial function, which leads to increased production of free radicals.

At the same time, statins also lower your CoQ10 levels by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production – the same pathway by which Q10 is produced. Statins also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports CoQ10 and other fat-soluble antioxidants.

The loss of CoQ10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage your mitochondrial DNA, effectively setting into motion an evil circle of increasing free radicals and mitochondrial damage.

This explains why statins are particularly dangerous if you have existing mitochondrial damage, as your body relies on ample CoQ10 to bypass this damage.

I have been searching for a site where ‘good’ CoQ10 levels are specified. I have so far found the following:

The importance of determining plasma CoQ10 levels during CoQ10 supplementation cannot be overemphasized. Minimum target plasma level must be established for any given condition for therapeutic efficacy. For instance, in the case of in heart patients, we now know that a minimum of 3 mcg per mL plasma must be reached before any clinical benefit can be expected.

Duration of CoQ10 supplementation is another important consideration. In many of the early trials with CoQ10, blood levels were rarely monitored. It is quite likely that in those situations where a beneficial effect was not observed, it may be due to the fact that the blood levels did not reach the therapeutic range.

In healthy adults, normal values for CoQ10 are 0.8 to 1.5 micrograms per milliliter.

I wonder how many patients who have been prescribed Cholesterol Lowering Medications by their health care provider have also been told they need to be supplementing with CoQ10.

I wonder how many medical providers actually know that the drug companies have know for over thirty years that their cholesterol lowering medication would deplete the human body of this vital nutrient?

Alena and Peter Langsjoen (members of THINCS) had this to say regarding Pharmaceutical Companies and a patent on a combination Statin + CoQ10:

….there are 2 patents assigned to Merck (the Nobel Laureate, Michael Brown is the inventor of one of them) and 2 patents assigned to UT Austin (Karl Folkers and Peter’s father, Per, are the inventors on these, but UT Austin owns them), so there are a total of 4 patents on the combination of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors & CoQ10.  The US patent US 5082650, issued in January 21, 1992 is not active anymore (UT Austin did not pay the fees) and the one issued in 1994 may become inactive this fall (for the same reason).  It appears that Merck is just “sitting”
on them, so that no one else would come out with the combination of statins & CoQ10!?

That will be all from me tonight. I do hope there are some areas of interest here for you to follow-up on. If you find other links that delve into what might be considered adequate levels of CoQ10, please mention them in the comments section so that others can find them.

About JustMEinT Musings

I like writing, reading and expressing my opinions. I prefer natural health and healing to pharmaceutical drugs. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour.
This entry was posted in Antioxidants, Autoimmune, Cancer, Cholesterol, CoQ10, Diabetes, Doctors - medical Fraternity, Drug Companies, Heart Disease, Industry Shenanigans, Inflammation, Pharmaceutical Drugs, Statins. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Those Little Cellular Power Houses – Look After Them

  1. My book, “The Truth About Statins: Risks and Alternatives to Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs” was published by Simon & Schuster this year. It contains complete up to date information on statin side effects and ways to prevent heart disease without drugs.
    Barbara Roberts, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI

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