Statin induced brain fog…the FDA finally catches up
If FDA officials had been piloting the Titanic on April 15, 1912, they might have told passengers they were looking into "reports" that an object in the water came into contact with the ship, and then put fears to rest over the remote chance that there might be any buoyancy issues.
Most importantly, they would have urged everyone to stay away from the lifeboats because the benefits of staying aboard the safest ship ever made would far outweigh the risks of getting into a lifeboat.
That's the scene I imagined when I read this headline from an FDA Consumer Update: "FDA Expands Advice on Statin Risks."
Now, they could have gone with "FDA Warns Consumers About Statin Risks," or "FDA Finally Comes Clean about Significant Statin Risks."
But no. They just want to "expand" their advice. No cause for alarm.
The Consumer Update poses this question: "What should patients do if they fear that statin use could be clouding their thinking?"
And here's the answer from an FDA safety official: "Don't stop taking the medication; the consequences to your heart could be far greater."
Actually...THAT sounds like some pretty cloudy thinking.
This is your brain on statins...
A few days ago, FDA officials announced that additional safety warnings will be added to statin drug labels. One of these warnings includes an increased risk of high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes among statin users. I'll have more for you on that in an upcoming e-mail.
Meanwhile..."cloudy thinking"? FDA officials are well aware that we're talking about more than just a few passing clouds here.
How about "total global amnesia"? That sounds just a little more troublesome than "cloudy," doesn't it?
Seven years ago I told you about Duane Graveline, M.D. -- a former NASA astronaut. Soon after starting on Lipitor, Dr. Graveline experienced two bouts of total global amnesia (TGA) where memory is completely wiped out for several minutes to several hours.
When Dr. Graveline launched his own investigation of statin-related TGA, he found hundreds of people who shared their experiences of memory loss while taking statins.
He also discovered the mechanism behind this process. In an article on his website (spacedoc.com), Dr. Graveline explains that certain brain cells actually produce their own cholesterol that neurons require to function properly. When that cholesterol production is hampered, thought processes can be compromised.
The result: Cloudy thinking, TGA, and just about everything in between, including depression.
More than a decade later, the FDA has finally caught up.
The Consumer Update notes that memory loss, forgetfulness, and confusion "span all statin products and all age groups." And, of course, the agency refers to these cases as "rare," but let's face it, if they were truly rare, the agency wouldn't be addressing this issue at all.
According to the Consumer Update, "In general, the symptoms were not serious and were reversible within a few weeks after the patient stopped using the statin."
And yet, in the very next paragraph, the FDA safety expert clearly instructs statin users: "Don't stop taking the medication."
Hmmm... Mix your messages much, FDA?
A few years ago, when the Wall St. Journal ran an article about memory loss linked with statin use, many readers posted comments about their cognition problems and TGA. One reader suffered a crippling depression while taking Lipitor and Zocor, but her symptoms vanished when she quit the drugs.
From that point it was an easy decision. She said that any potential risk of a heart attack "would be preferable to life on statins."
Given that statin benefits are wildly exaggerated, that's what I would call very sharp thinking.
Related articles of interest:
About the author
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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