It’s Not Alzheimer’s, It’s Your Prescription Drugs

If we lived in a world where the giant drug companies paid as much attention to the harmful side effects of their products as they do to their profits, your health and your brain would be better protected. But we don’t. This means you have to learn the facts for yourself. The uninformed are frequently victims of medical blundering and greed.

You don’t have to look far for proof. One of the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S. (and the world) may be causing serious harm to your brain function and that of millions of other people. A great many so-called cases of Alzheimer’s disease would clear up if the patients stopped taking these drugs. . .

The drugs that can cause so much harm to mind and body are statins, a family of drugs intended to lower the risk of heart disease by reducing cholesterol — and, apparently, general inflammation, too. Experts estimate that annual sales of statins top $35 billion a year.

Some doctors are so enthusiastic about this class of drugs they call them “vitamin statin” and claim almost everyone should be taking them.

But there’s a serious problem with lowering your cholesterol by means of those potent pharmaceuticals. Your brain depends on cholesterol to function properly.

Cholesterol is not merely a component of the plaque that can block arteries. It plays a number of vital roles in your body. It is so important to the brain that about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body is contained in that organ alone.

Cholesterol is incorporated into every cell membrane in the body, including brain cell membranes. Additionally, it is necessary for the construction of the neuronal connections through which thinking, learning and memory take place. Without adequate cholesterol, your brain activity slows to a crawl (if it takes place at all). Cholesterol forms what are called “myelin sheaths” — insulation around nerve endings that makes the transmission of nerve impulses more efficient. As experts note, “cholesterol is an indispensable component of myelin membranes.”1

Tests on people and lab analyses demonstrate a significant connection between statins and harm to brain function. A study involving more than 300 people between the ages of 35 and 70 who had high cholesterol found that when one group was given a placebo for six months (a dummy pill with no active ingredient) and another group took a statin, learning abilities in the statin-taking group suffered.2

In another study, involving people who had complained of memory difficulties linked to statins, the researchers found that more than half of these folks got their memory back when they went off the drugs. The results were reported to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch, a database of pharmaceutical side effects.

Malfunctioning Mitochondria

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine point out that one way statins cause brain difficulties is linked to their interference with the function of mitochondria, the structures in cells that produce the energy necessary for cellular function. Mitochondria are sometimes called the cells’ “energy factories.” Mitochondrial interference can harm not only brain function but muscle function, too.

“Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs’ adverse side effects,” says researcher Beatrice Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at San Diego. “But cognitive problems and peripheral neuropathy, or pain or numbness in the extremities like fingers and toes, are also widely reported.”

She also points out that statins can be linked to a wide range of problems, like blood sugar elevation and tendon weakness.

Dr. Golomb’s research shows clear evidence that if you take one of the more powerful statins (like Lipitor or Crestor) you run a bigger chance of mental difficulties. Taking larger doses of these drugs likewise increases your risk. Researchers suspect that some people are more genetically vulnerable to the side effects.

And, chances are, your doctor doesn’t know about these risks.

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

In other words, if you want your brain and brawn to stay strong, look out for the dark side of statins before you start lowering your cholesterol with these prescription medications.