Statins Impair ATP Production

I suspect most readers will find this article far deeper than they want to go about the adverse effects of statins and most MDs simply do not want to hear it, but this latest research by Duncan and others is further evidence of what I have been saying for years. It's all about CoQ10 and energy and premature old age.

This is not a journal frequented by most medical doctors and most certainly not encountered by most patients suffering the ravages of statins but in this highly compartmented, peer reviewed world of ours, Toxicology Mechanics and Methods is where the action is.

The title is innocent enough: "Decreased ubiquinone availability and impaired mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase activity associated with statin treatment. To help you interpret this, ubiquinone is our good friend, Coenzyme Q10, and think of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase as a marker of adenosine triphosphate ( ATP ) energy production.

This research team at the Department of Molecular Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology, London were investigating two cases of statin associated myopathy.

Both patients had been on Zocor 40mg daily. Analysis of skeletal muscle biopsies had revealed that both ubiquinone  and cytochrome oxidase levels were reduced well below normal.

In considering the possibility that these reduced values were due to direct inhibition by their statin drug, they next cultured nerve cells ( known as primary astrocytes ) to which a statin had been added. These nerve cells showed a decrease in both ubiquinone and cytochrone oxidase similar to that of their Zocor myopathy patients.

I already have discussed the important role of CoQ10 (ubiquinone) as a powerful anti-oxidant in preventing the accumulation of oxidizing free radicals. These free radicals are a natural part of our metabolism, produced inevitably by the food we eat, and if unshielded will oxidize adjacent mitochondrial DNA.

The effect then of insufficient ubiquinone associated with statin use is mitochondrial damage and mutations. Now to learn that statins also directly inhibit cytochrome oxidase gives us much better understanding of the reasons for both myopathy and reports of extreme fatigue and weakness associated with the use of statins, for ATP lack is the direct result of cytochrome oxidase inhibition.

This work of Duncan and his research team serves to strengthen my growing belief that statin drugs serve to enhance the aging process.

By inhibition of CoQ10 they serve to accelerate the process of mitochondrial damage in a process that can be called premature aging. Is it any wonder many MDs explain to their patients, "You have to expect these kinds of things. You are over 50 now."

Little do they know how close they are to the truth but it is not the years, it is their doctor's favorite drug, a statin, that is at fault, silently robbing the elderly and not so elderly of their golden years.

Ref:   Duncan AJ and others, Toxicol Mech Methods. Jan;19(1):44-50. 2009

Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor

March 2010 

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