Statins can affect your manhood

statins can affect your manhood
statins can affect your manhood

Big Pharma wants you on their highly profitable products.

In the news the past week was a study that showed that cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins, can affect your manhood: they decrease aggression in men, partly through lowering testosterone levels, and raise aggression in women: Statin Effects on Aggression: Results from the UCSD Statin Study, a Randomized Control Trial. (PLOS One.)

The study is a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial, so there are none of the confounding factors so often seen in epidemiological studies. It was undertaken because it’s long been known that low cholesterol levels are associated with an increase in violence, homicides, and suicides: Cholesterol and Violence: Is There a Connection? (Annals of Internal Medicine.)

A significant association between low or lowered cholesterol levels and violence is found across many types of studies. Data on this association conform to Hill’s criteria for a causal association.

Statins lower testosterone levels

But in this case, statins were associated with less aggression in men. The reason, or one of them, is that statins lowered testosterone levels. The other reason, perhaps just as bad, was that the men developed statistically significant sleep problems.

Younger men were much more likely to be affected. Yet in women, aggression increased.

What’s going on here? It seems obvious enough to me: younger men are more aggressive and have higher testosterone levels; therefore they are the most affected by drugs that throw a monkey wrench into their hormonal physiology. The lowering of testosterone and the deterioration in sleep quality overrode any affect of lower cholesterol on increased violence or aggression.

In women, who of course have much lower testosterone levels, the simple act of lowering cholesterol caused an increase in aggression, since in women this is unmediated by testosterone.

Statins’ other side effects

If you are a man over the age of 40, and have a high cholesterol level and/or a family history of heart disease, your doctor may very well want to put you on a statin. You should be aware of their side effects.

In men who had no known heart disease who took statins for 5 years (from the NNT):

  • None were helped (life saved)
    1 in 104 were helped (preventing heart attack)
    1 in 154 were helped (preventing stroke)
  • 1 in 50 were harmed (develop diabetes*)
    1 in 10 were harmed (muscle damage)

Or to look at the same number another way (from Grant Schofield), 98% saw no benefit, 0.96% benefited from preventing a (non-fatal) heart attack, 2% were harmed by developing diabetes, and 10% were harmed through muscle damage.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like those odds.

Doctors like statins

Yet even with a superb lipid profile due to a paleo diet and weightlifting, my doctor threatened to put me on a statin. No, thanks.

Statins are the standard of care, which means that if your cholesterol is “high”, your doctor will feel obligated to prescribe statins for you.

Statins have been implicated in memory loss and dementia-like symptoms. (See also the invaluable Spacedoc.com.)

Contrary to what has been recently reported, statins do not protect against cancer; quite the opposite. (Journal of Clinical Oncology.)

 

 

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7 comments
Anon says July 8, 2015

Do you have any data to support stopping statins by men WITH known heart disease?

“If you are a man over the age of 40, and have a high cholesterol level and/or a family history of heart disease”
If these all apply to a patient, what do you advise?

Reply
    P. D. Mangan says July 8, 2015

    Anon, I can only say what I would do, and I personally wouldn’t take a statin. I do have “high” cholesterol by doctors’ lights, that is, it’s greater than 200, closer to 250 actually, and my father and several grandparents had heart disease. I do know that statins do not decrease overall mortality, meaning that there may be some decrease in heart disease deaths in patients with known heart disease, but mortality from other causes, cancer for instance, increases, cancelling any effect on death rates.

    I can’t tell anyone not to take them if their doctor wants them too. I can only suggest seeking out all the information. Dr. Michael Eades has written a lot about statins and suggest you read what he has to say.

    Reply
      posthasty says July 8, 2015

      I agree with Dennis about not starting statins just because your cholesterol is not in an ideal range. Better to deal with that through diet and resistance training.

      However, if you already have existing heart disease, I’d be careful and instead try to ameliorate some of the side effects caused by statins rather than discontinuing them.

      For example, I would take a combo of 4 – 5,000 iu of vitamin d, 400 mg of magnesium glycinate, and 180 mcg of vitamin k2 (the long-acting mk-7 version). Get regular blood tests to keep tabs on your vitamin D level. Chris Masterjohn has written a lot about how important it is to take all these vitamins and nutrients together to make sure calcium is deposited in bones and teeth rather than into the arteries.

      I also watched an interview Mercola did with a cardiologist recently (he was promoting a book on vitamin k2) who said statins deplete vitamin k2. Hmm. So maybe some of statins side effects can be alleviated by vitamin k2? As an aside, I came across an interesting mouse study that showed vitamin k2 (mk-4) significantly increased testosterone levels. I never shared it with anyone because I didn’t want the typical dude bro lifters getting wind of it and making a run on mk-4 and recklessly megadosing it. As they are wont to do.

      It’s here:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3180407/

      Reply
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