Published on September 29th, 2014 | by Dr. Doug Pucci0
Statins, Neuropathic Pain and Cholesterol
As far back as 1992, a scholarly look into the actual research on statin drug use and heart disease, which had previously claimed that lowering cholesterol values would prevent heart disease, determined instead that this claim was wrong. Indeed, it found that lowering serum cholesterol concentrations does not reduce mortality and is unlikely to prevent chronic heart disease at all.
Then in 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began requiring statin manufacturers to add “memory loss” as a side effect of this chemical class of drugs. Now, a new study in the Journal of Diabetes reveals a clear association between statin drug use and nerve damage, or peripheral nerve pain.
The central nervous system comprises the brain and the spinal cord. It branches out to all “peripheral” parts of the body such as the arms, the hands and the fingertips, legs, feet, and toes. It is this system that provides all the sensory input from the fingertips and toes back to the brain. It is also the communication pathway throughout the body that allows for movement.
This means that if we are experiencing pain, numbness or burning in the hands or feet, we have a short circuit between the central and the peripheral nervous systems and a lack of sensory input to the brain. To preserve itself, the brain will begin to shut down the communication pathways to the peripheral systems, causing them to atrophy, sting and hurt as the nerve roots demyelinate.
Peripheral neuropathy is the term for demylenation, which disrupts the body’s ability to enervate muscles, joints and internal organs. The four cardinal patterns of peripheral neuropathy are polyneuropathy, mononeuropathy, mononeuritis multiplex and autonomic neuropathy.
The most common condition, symmetrical peripheral neuropathy, mainly affects the sensory fibers of the feet and legs and results in stabbing, sharp electric pain, burning, cramping, numbness, extreme prickling or an inability to determine joint position. For many neuropathies, the sensation begins in the feet and creeps up the legs toward the center of the body as the condition worsens.
In fact, people who have Type 2 diabetes have the same risk of heart attack and dying from heart disease as people who already have had heart attacks. Diabetes is a common cause of sensory neuropathy, though many cases are identified as “idiopathic” because no direct causal relationship can be found.
This ignores the known side effects of cholesterol-lowering medications as much as it ignores what we know about the human body and how it operates. Cholesterol makes up the largest portion of the myelin nerve sheath (the nerve strand, so to speak) and once we start removing it from the veins and arteries in an effort to lower total serum cholesterol in the blood stream, the nerve strand begins to inflame. The raw nerve ends cause the pain symptoms until the nerve shrinks and atrophy (or nerve death) sets in. When left untreated, atrophy can result in amputation of a limb.
It turns out that cholesterol is not just a number on a lab test. It’s a reflection of antioxidant levels and inflammatory processes present within vasculature and nervous systems. Even then, few people need to worry about cholesterol so much as they need worry about actual peripheral nerve pain. Blood cholesterol levels between 200 and 240 mg/dl are normal. These levels have always been normal. In older women, serum cholesterol levels greatly above these numbers have been shown to be associated with longevity.
Since 1984, however, in the United States and other parts of the Western world, these normal numbers have been treated as if they were an indication of a disease in progress or a potential for disease in the future.
Dr. Doug Pucci, DC, DPSc, FAAIM, regularly offers in-office seminars presenting the latest science and clinical data on neurotoxic illness, hormone imbalances, and chronic disease. For more information, call 201-261-5430 or visit GetWell-Now.com.