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Why statin manufacturers may soon target the mentally ill
Statins are the most-often prescribed class of drug there is. And with good reason: they can lower cholesterol, the risk of hypertension, and prevent strokes and heart attacks.
But what doctors aren’t telling their patients is that these “miracle drugs” being pushed on more and more people are also a prescription for disease and death.
Long-term use of statins has been proven to lead to:
- Cognitive decline and memory loss
- Muscle damage
- Liver damage
And the longer you take statins, the worse these conditions get. Studies show that the benefits and risks of taking statins even out at about age 75, meaning that after that, you’re just taking a pill that’s causing disease, not curing it.
Despite all this, statins are being pushed on younger and younger people, even those who have no medical history or other risks of heart disease, when a food lesson could turn most people’s cholesterol around.
And now they are being pushed on a group of people who may not even be able to decide for themselves whether it’s a good idea or not.
Can statins really cure schizophrenia?
A recent large-scale Swedish study is pointing to the possibility that statins and the diabetes drug, metformin, could be used to treat mental illness.
The researchers studied data from a Swedish national database that looks at rates of self-harm and hospitalization in 142,691 people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychoses.
Read: I took metformin for a week and this happened
They surmised that patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia showed lower rates of hospital admission and self-harm when they were given statins or metformin.
One possible explanation is that statins lower systemic inflammation, which is present in high blood pressure and has been proposed as a factor in psychotic episodes.
Now, this isn’t a new discovery. A 2015 study indicated that clinical depression is associated with a 30 percent increase in brain inflammation.
Those behind the research are likely salivating at the potential to sell more statins to an entirely new target group: those with troubling mental illness.
Thankfully, more research will be needed before doctors get the green light to start prescribing statins to psychiatric patients. But ask yourself this:
Why offer patients who already have trouble making decisions about their own care a drug that can potentially cause more serious illness?
And, if controlling inflammation seems to be the key, why aren’t psychiatrists pushing NSAIDs on their patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? NSAIDs are a class of anti-inflammatory drug that includes Motrin, Advil and the arthritis drug Celebrex.
Here’s one clue…
At least one of the authors of the Swedish study included a conflict of interest disclosure, stating that he received research funding from Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Pfizer and another pharmaceutical company “outside the submitted work.”
Does this mean that the funding he received did not affect this particular piece of research? Still, it makes you wonder how impartial research can be when monies from Pfizer, the drug manufacturer responsible for Lipitor, the most prescribed statin drug of all, is involved.
After all, there’s more money to be made by doling out statin scripts to psychiatric patients than telling them to take an Advil.
Other ways to address inflammation
If research is revealing that inflammation is indeed a possible factor in mental illness, there are plenty of other ways to address the problem, while having some other positive health effects at the same time…
- Eating the right foods can lower inflammation. Here are 8 anti-inflammatory foods and minerals.
- Getting rid of toxins. Here, Dr. Isaac Eliaz explains how getting rid of heavy metals in the body can protect the brain.
- Just 20 minutes a day of physical activity can make a difference in lowering inflammation levels.
- Statins and metformin could be used to treat serious mental illness — Clinical Pharmacist
- Association of Hydroxylmethyl Glutaryl Coenzyme A Reductase Inhibitors, L-Type Calcium Channel Antagonists, and Biguanides With Rates of Psychiatric Hospitalization and Self-Harm in Individuals With Serious Mental Illness — JAMA Psychiatry
- Role of Translocator Protein Density, a Marker of Neuroinflammation, in the Brain During Major Depressive Episodes — JAMA Psychiatry