As a naturopath, I treat the patient and not the disease. In doing so, I consider all the factors at play. When it comes to preventing heart attacks, medical doctors put a lot of weight on cholesterol levels and commonly prescribe a class of cholesterol lowering drugs known as Statins. When you look at research though, you need to carefully consider if it’s actually beneficial for you.


A few years ago, I had to undergo an additional prescribing licensing exam that stressed evidence based medicine. It was interesting that the pharmacists that were doing the preparatory course brought to our attention that in several instances, statins in fact DO NOT reduce the risk of suffering from a heart attack.


We have known for years that statins deplete CoQ10, a powerful cellular antioxidant in the body that actually helps to reduce the risk of heart attack. It makes you wonder how that actually affects the risk of heart attack.


There are several studies that have shown that lowering cholesterol does not reduce the risk of suffering from a heart attack. Here is a list of scenarios in which research suggests that statins may not be beneficial as summarized in one of Dr. Mark Hyman’s recent books:


  • If you have lower LDL (bad cholesterol) but also have low HDL (good cholesterol), there is no benefit to statins.[1]
  • If you have lower LDL (bad cholesterol) but don’t reduce inflammation (marked by C-reactive protein), there are no benefits to using statins.[2]
  • If you are a healthy woman with high cholesterol, there is no proof that taking statins reduces your risk of heart attack or death.[3]
  • If you are a man or woman over sixty-nine years old with high cholesterol, there is no proof that taking statins reduces your risk of heart attack or death.3
  • Aggressive cholesterol treatment with two medications lowered cholesterol much more than one drug alone but led to more plaque build-up in the arteries and no fewer heart attacks.[4]
  • Older patients with lower cholesterol have a higher risk of death than those with higher cholesterol. [5]
  • Countries with higher average cholesterol than America, such as Switzerland and Spain, have less heart disease.
  • Evidence suggests that it is probably the ability for statins to reduce inflammation that accounts for the benefit of statins, and not their ability to reduce cholesterol.[6]
  • About 20% of people who take statins have side effects including muscle damage and pain[7], neurological problems, memory issues[8], sexual dysfunction[9], and more. [10]
  • Statins have been linked to a dramatically higher risk of diabetes, In one study almost 26,000 healthy people, those taking statins to prevent heart attack were 87% more likely to get type 2 diabetes.[11] In another randomized control of 153,840 women, those who used statins were 48% more likely to get type 2 diabetes.[12]


As a naturopath, it’s not my place to tell you to stop taking a medication. I do however believe that you need to be empowered to make an educated decision and fully understand the risk and benefits to anything you take.


Cholesterol is not the only means of assessing your cardiovascular risk. To learn more about in depth risk-assessment and cardiovascular testing, book an appointment with one of our experienced naturopathic doctors. Our team of naturopaths are equipped to provide you with evidence-based alternatives to help you get and stay healthy.


[1] Barter P, Gotto AM, LaROSa JC, et al; Treating to New Targets Investigators. HDL cholesterol, very low levels of LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular events. N Eng J Med. 2007 Sept 27;357 (13): 1301-10.

[2] Ridker PM, Danielson E, Fonseca FA et al: JUPITER study Group. Rosuvastin to prevent vascular events in men and women with elevated C-reactive protein. . N Eng J Med. 2008 Nov 20;259(21):2195-207.

[3] Adamson J, Wirght JM. Are lipid-lowering guidelines evidence based? Lancet 2007 Jan 20;369 (9557): 168-69.

[4] Brown BG, Taylor AJ. Does ENHANCE diminish confidence in lowering LDL or in ezetimibe? N Eng J Med. 2008 editorial April 3, 358:1504

[5] Schatz IJ, Masaki K, Yano K, Chen R, Rodriguez BL, Curb JD. Cholesterol and all cause mortality in elderly people from neurological Honolulu Heart Program: a cohert study. Lancet 2001 Aug 4; 358 (9279): 351-55.

[6] Hansson GK. Inflammation, artherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease. N Eng J Med. 2005 Apr 21;352(16):1685-95.

[7] Ganga HV, Slim HB, Thompson PD. A systematic review of statin-induced muscle problems in clinical trials. Am Heart J 2014 Jul;168(1): 6-15

[8] Kelley BJ, Glasser S. Congnitive effects of statins= medications. CNS Drugs 2014 May;28(5):411-19.

[9] Davis R, Reveles KR, Ali SK. Mortense EM. Frei CR, Mansi I. Statins and male sexual health; a retrospective cohert analysis. J Sex Med 2015 Jan; 12 (1);158-67.

[10] Ahmad Z. Statin intolerance Am J Cario 2014 May 15;113(10):1765-71.

[11] Mansi I, Frei CR, Wang CP, Mortensen EM. Statins and new-onset diabetes mellitus and diabetic complications: a retrospective cohert study of US healthy adults. J Gen Intern Med 2015. Ap 28

[12] Culver AL, Oskene IS, Balasubramanian R, et al. Statin use and the risk of diabetes mellitus in postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative. Arch Intern Med 2012 Jan 23;172(2):144-52.