This week I seemed to be noticing more advertisements for cholesterol medications (Statins) and I began to wonder how they truly benefit people especially when they claim to also be used for prevention.
I get very fixated on the word “prevention” when I hear it. When I think of prevention my mind goes straight to life in the womb, when our development starts. Every chronic health condition can be traced back to our life in the womb and I thought, “If I am going to look at prevention then I am going to look at prevention from the beginning”.
During pregnancy statins are considered to be possible teratogens (chemical to disrupt fetal development). In the first trimester the placenta allows for the development of the embryo and fetus. In mammals there is this enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, basically it is the rate controlling enzyme for the metabolic pathway that produces cholesterol. This activity is mandatory for normal placental development and the production of hormones that are important for the maintenance of pregnancy.
Stains decrease the cholesterol producing activity and therefore have the ability to cause a disruption in membrane production, cellular multiplication, cellular reproduction and growth, metabolism and protein glycosylation (an addition of a sugar or carbohydrate to a protein). These actions are critical processes for the normal development of the placenta and embryo.
So why does this matter?
If the placenta is not able to develop as it should then it limits the oxygen and nutrients available to the developing fetus. This restriction influences fetal growth and can cause overall developmental delays and can set the baby up for, get this, cardiovascular disease (ummm I thought we were told this is what we are trying to treat or prevent), diabetes, and even impaired neurological development.
The FDA was able to identify 178 spontaneous reports of babies exposed to statins in utero between 1987-2001, these cases included malformations of sever defects of the central nervous system, unilateral limb deficiencies including both long-bone shortening and aplasia or hypoplasia of the foot, and vertebral-anal-cardiac-tracheal-esophageal-renal- limb (VACTERL) defects. There have been other studies done with similar results including miscarriage but there is little research done at this time. It is still advisable for women to stop taking Statin medications if they are planning to conceive or are pregnant. However, after birth they are said to be able to get on the medication again.
I think if you are even planning to get back on medications after your baby is born this means you have not been given the help you really need. If you have cardiovascular disease this too effects your baby’s development and puts you at risk during pregnancy even without medications. You and your baby would greatly benefit from making small steps towards improved cholesterol and heart health. This is totally possible without the use of medications to get you there.
I know there are situations in which medications are needed but if you are not able to take them while your are planning to conceive or are pregnant then the only options left are to improve on some lifestyle changes for you and your baby or keep you both at risk…..I bet you are choosing to make some adjustments.
I tend to think of many medications much like a band aid. They cover up the injury and try to make it less messy. If you keep falling or scraping the same spot and don’t learn how to avoid the injury your just going to have further damage and the need for more band aids.
This is why I say medications do not treat or prevent disease, they promote disease.
Read some of the research here: