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Another Downside of Statins

Statin-type drugs lower cholesterol, but it is worth learning about the downside of statins. If you suffer side effects, you may want another approach.

When statin drugs were originally introduced in the late 1980s, most doctors thought they had few if any side effects. To this day, some researchers contend that the vast majority of problems that people attribute to the action of cholesterol-lowering statin-type drugs are not truly caused by the drug after all (European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, March, 2014). We have heard from too many readers experiencing difficulties on these drugs to dismiss the side effects so cavalierly, however. It is worth learning about the downside of statins.

The Downside of Statins for High Cholesterol:

Muscle and Joint Pain and High Blood Sugar:

Q. I have taken several different statins over the years and have found all to cause severe muscle aches and weakness to legs, wrists and back and pain in all joints. My blood sugar levels were elevated all the time, not enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, but not normal.


I finally quit the latest statin and am on the mend. By the way, I also developed gout for which I am now being treated.

I’m sort of suspicious that the statins might have triggered the gout as I am not a heavy red meat or seafood eater, nor do I drink at all. Gout was really the last straw.

A. The side effects you describe (muscle aches, weakness, joint pain and elevated blood sugar) are all linked to statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs. Gout, however, is not listed in the official prescribing information of most statins.

Statins Differ with Respect to Gout:

We did some sleuthing, though and discovered that while atorvastatin (Lipitor) lowers uric acid levels (a cause of gout), pitavastatin (Livalo) may actually raise these levels (Nucleosides, Nucleotides & Nucleic Acids, June, 2010).  We are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health with a number of non-statin strategies for managing lipid levels and lowering the risk of heart disease while minimizing the downside of statins.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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