Statins......for or against

Hi Simon,

Of course - I should be very clear that I am not medically trained - I do have a Phd in chemistry and spent 5 years doing chemistry research and so am very used to reading academic papers and , I think, assessing whether the claims made in them are ‘scientifically’ robust or not.

The key arguments made by the members of THINCS (all highly qualified in the field of medical research and many of them leading cardiologists) are;

  1. As you say , Cholesterol is key in many other biochemical processes and is a key part of cellular membranes. This is why the liver creates it , as it does many other key nutrients for the body. Reducing the levels of lipids ( the little packets that carry cholesterol esters around our blood) too low, interferes with these other processes and so harms health. I came across several articles published by the BMJ that confirmed this overall finding that below a certain level of lipids in the blood , all cause mortality actually starts to rise. (One study, referenced on teh site looked at what was causing the additional deaths in the people with ‘very low’ lipid levels and made some very interesting findings …

a) If you exclude the people who had used statins to reduce their lipid levels then there was no overall increase in mortality at the ‘very low’ lipid levels.

b) There appeared to be a correlation to statin use and an increase in deaths from cancer (am now starting to read any published literature connecting statins to cancer risks).


The early research done that linked lipid levels to atherosclerosis does not stand up to today’s standards of showing a statistically significant causal relationship. i.e. there is not a proven link between lipid levels and atherosclerosis.


Further to 2 above, there has never been a believable mechanism put forward for how lipid levels create atherosclerotic plaques.(My research was in the field of chemical mechanisms and so I was particularly interested in this area). The currently proposed mechanism described ldl molecules penetrating the lining of the artery and depositing cholesterol there , that forms the plaques. These is no description of how they do this - i.e. how do they get between the cells forming the lining of your artery . An interesting observation is then made that the way the ebola virus kills people is by breaking down the connections between the cells in the lining of blood vessels and then the infected person bleeds to death - yet somehow the ldl molecules do this in perfectly ‘healthy’ people.


Whilst research has shown that there is indeed cholesterol in aterosclerotic plaques, this is in the form of cholesterol crystals. The cholesterol that is carried around inside lipid molecules is cholesterol esters - you cannot make cholesterol crystals from cholesterol esters, you need pure cholesterol. The current book I’m reading ‘the clot thickens’ , proposes a mechanism in which atherosclerotic plaques are formed from the remains of blood clots (blood cells contain cholesterol in their ‘pure’ form not the esterified form). This book proposes a mechanism whereby damage to the vascular wall causes blood clots to form and the plaques are formed from the remains of repeated blood clot formation. This also explains things like the correlation between smoking (and mining) and atherosclerosis - nano particles breathed into the lungs get into the blood and cause damage to the lining of the arteries etc. etc.


a number of the ‘thincs’ members have argued that statins do indeed provide some protection against atherosclerosis , but that this is because they have a mild anticoagulant property and so prevent the clots that they believe are the real cause of atherosclerosis and has nothing to do with them lowering the levels of lipids in the blood.

The history behind the development of the diet- cholesterol- lipids- atherosclerosis theory is also fascinating - much of it sponsored by food companies that put high levels of sugar into our food (sugar spikes in the blood have been shown to cause damage to the linings of the blood vessels , hence the link between diabetes and atherosclerosis) or the companies that make billions from the sale of statins.

I checked the NHS website yesterday and statin prescriptions cost the NHS £500million a year. Given the chronic underfunding we have within the NHS, I’m amazed that someone hasn’t done a wide review of the literature and research to see if there is a solid, statistically reliable link between the use of statins and increase in healthy lifespan,

Apologies, as i said, i’m not medically trained, but am fascinated by the chemistry of what is going on in our bodies and after having had a TIA following a diagnosis of aFib, but being told i didn’t need to go on anticoagulants ( as I don’t smoke , was very fit and 'slim (was being the operative word :slight_smile: )to prevent strokes… I’ve lost some faith in the medical establishment and decided to make sure i fully understood and ‘believed’ the logic for me now taking statins


Thanks :slight_smile:
I’ll have to read again to absorb properly.
Google scholar and research gate etc are my stomping grounds. From both of them I am firmly convinced that citation based credentialization of peer reviewed journals has more memetic mechanisms than just ‘the best papers rise to the top’. Popular lunacy pollutes the citation process.

As I said I’ll have to read again - to juxtapose the arguments and then draw conclusions or questions. My general feeling with arguments of this nature are that all the facts are correct but incomplete so each contradictory view is logical and supportable from its own standpoint and serves me early to show comprehension is lacking from everybody’s conclusions.

Graphically I present it as this image

"What you mean it is a circle! it’s quite clearly a square. Are you charlatan idiot or con artist…”

Hi Simon - ‘semantic scholar’ is also in really useful place to do some ‘digging’ - basically a search engine that looks through academic papers only and uses AI to work out whether what you are searching for is discussed in the paper or not.

Also - I really like that graphic which , I think encapsulates the key point about scientific evidence and modelling. When you propose a model , it should account for all the data and not just the data that you select.

In the example, if you just select the data that ‘the object has rotational symmetry’ then the model in which the object is a circle or a sphere , fits the data. But it only does so because you have omitted the data that says ‘there is a right angle between adjacent faces’. If you only consider this later fact - then you can propose a model in which the object is a prism.

So for me - the most compelling, and believable models are those that explain all the data and not just what the writer of the paper selects.

This is why I really like the ‘blood clot’ model of atherosclerosis - it explains all the data and observations - not just a selected few sets of data. e.g. why do we observe higher levels of atherosclerosis in smokers, those with diabetes etc. - all explained by the ‘blood clot’ model nd not by the 'lipid level ’ model.

An additional criteria that I add when considering what is most likely to be the ‘real’ explanation of observed data, is whether the model contains a believable explanation / mechanism of why you get the observed outcomes that you see. Again , for this reason, the ‘blood clot’ mechanism wins hands down over the ’ blood - lipid level mechanism’ of atherosclerosis. The latter cannot explain why, for example, you get higher levels of atherosclerosis in smokers than non smokers, the former does, I believe.


I’ve been reading through this thread in relation to the side-effects of statins and wondered if, in the intervening months, you have managed to resolve the issues as they relate to your health. I have been traveling this particular ‘statin journey’ for well over four years and am delighted to report that a very satisfactory resolution has been in place for the last three months.

Having tried every statin on the market (which I needed as Cholesterol was much too high), always with the same, grim results of very painful joints and severe cramp and CK bloods that rocketed to crazy heights. I was then asked to try a Fibrate, but with the same results. Next on the list was Bempedoic Acid, but the result was the same again. Having now been diagnosed as ‘statin intolerant’, I was referred to a specialist who asked me to try a fortnightly injection (self-administered) with almost no side-effects. It has been superb, reducing Cholesterol from 7.1 to 3.5 and no downsides whatsoever.

Hope this is some help to someone.

Kindest regards and richest blessings.



Thanks for sharing Stewart. That will be really helpful for others. Pleased you have finslly found something that works for you.

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Nice to see you Stewart :slight_smile:
our paths don’t cross so much these days

Thanks for the concept of ‘statin intolerant’ & the alternate treatment regime

Perhaps we’ll see you at a Thursday afternoon zoom cafe? - they are every week now-
From 1pm uk time

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Hi Simon

I trust this finds you and Lee both well.

The statin journey was a long, fraught one, so I hoped that this post might be of some help to others who might be traveling a similar journey. It can be a painful and frustrating time, so to know that there may a very significant alternative might be of encouragement to someone.

Take care.

Kindest regards and richest blessings



I refused to take them, too. And I agree, people should do their own research, not just on statins but on ALL the meds we’re prescribed. I researched statins 15-20years ago and knew back then that I would never take them. One of the hospital consultants who did a weekly visit to stroke patients in rehab was interested in my reasons for refusing them, admitting he didn’t have time to do his own research, going
along with whatever is being validated at any given time.
My lipid profile falls within the ‘normal’ range. Triglycerides are good, LDL ( by current numbers)is good, HDL is great. I’m not insulin resistant, I don’t have AF, I don’t appear to have heart disease. I would not need a statin, yet my GP told me that even if LDL was 2, it wouldn’t be low enough. Yet research has shown that if LDL falls too low, there is a risk of haemorrhagic stroke! Our brains thrive on cholesterol, both HDL and LDL. (Every cell in our body thrives on cholesterol). Statins are a huge money spinner. A very small percentage of people will benefit from them, most won’t.

Below are 2 good studies, definitely worthy of a read for those who want more info:

Hope this helps someone.

have an opinion on them too

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Thanks for that, Simon. Very interesting. I consume moderate amounts of saturated fat but have mostly avoided processed foods all my life (the real culprits of oxidised cholesterol, which is the dangerous one). Doesn’t make any difference to my lipid profile. I’m of the generation that grew up on wholesome home cooked food and have continued with it throughout my life. It’s yummy :yum:


You’ve definitely done your research. I agree with everything you say. One of the key mysteries being people with higher cholesterol live longer and people with Alzheimer’s have lower cholesterol :thinking:

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I don’t take them much to my neurologist’s annoyance. Have heard too many stories about side effects. I know why I had my stroke and it wasn’t down to high cholesterol. Why should I take a drug that could do me more harm then good. I’ll stick to my beetroot juice thankyou.


Funny you should say that😉
The reason I first began researching statins was because I noticed cognitive decline in my step dad who’d been taking them for a while. He went on to develop dementia and died 4 or 5 years later. I noticed the same thing beginning to happen to my husband’s uncle, although he died suddenly and unexpectedly (pre-covid). There were others as well. It simply reinforced my belief that statins should be used with extreme caution. I find I’m unable to make the disconnect between increasing cases of dementia and the dishing out of statins at every available opportunity. We should never be afraid to question (or refuse) what we’re being given to put in our bodies. Just my thoughts.


Yes it’s too. Freshly cooked & mostly from the farmers market. Odd bit of bacon & cheese &c,
Yes yummy