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Why Women Should Stop Their Cholesterol Lowering Medication

Why Women Should Stop Their Cholesterol Lowering Medication

If you are a post-menopausal women with high cholesterol, your doctor will almost certainly recommend cholesterol lowering medication or statins. And it just might kill you. A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that statins increase the risk of getting diabetes by 71 percent in post-menopausal women.

Since diabetes is a major cause of heart disease, this study calls into question current recommendations and guidelines from most professional medical associations and physicians. The recommendation for women to take statins to prevent heart attacks (called primary prevention) may do more harm than good.

Statins have been proven to prevent second heart attacks, but not first heart attacks.

Take it if you already have had one, but beware if your doctor recommends it for you if have never had a heart attack.

This current study adds to an increasing body of literature questioning the benefits of statins, while highlighting their potential risks.

New Study Shows 48 Percent Risk of Diabetes in Women Who Take Statins

This study examined the data from the large government sponsored study called the Women’s Health Initiative, the same study that disabused us of the idea that Premarin prevented heart attacks in postmenopausal women.

In fact, based on this randomized controlled trial, estrogen replacement therapy, once considered the gold standard of medical care for the prevention of heart disease, was relegated to the trash bin of history joining medicine’s many other fallen heroes including DES, Thalidomide, Vioxx, Avandia, and more.

In this new study researchers reviewed the effect of statin prescriptions in a group of 153,840 women without diabetes and with an average age of 63.2 years. About 7 percent of women reported taking statin medication between 1993 and 1996. Today there are many, many more women taking statin medications, thus many more are at risk from harm from statins.

During the 3-year period of the study, 10,242 new cases were reported – a whopping 71 percent increase in risk from women who didn’t take statins. This association stayed strong at a 48 percent increased risk of getting diabetes, even after taking into account age, race/ethnicity, and weight or body mass index. These increases in disease risk were consistent for all statins on the market.

This effect also occurred in those with and without heart disease. Surprisingly disease risk was worse in thin women. Minority women were also disproportionately affected. The risk of diabetes was 49 percent for white women, 57 percent for Hispanic women, and 78 percent for Asian women.

But in a typical “my mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts” statement by the medical establishment, the researchers said we should not change our guidelines for statin use for the primary prevention of heart disease.

In a large meta-analysis published in the Lancet last year, scientists found that statins increased the risk of diabetes by 9 percent. If current guidelines were followed for those who should take statins, and people actually took them (thank God only 50 percent of prescriptions are ever filled by patients), there would be 3 million more diabetics in America. Oops.

Other studies have recently called into question the belief that high cholesterol levels increase your risk of heart disease as you get older. For those over 85 it turns out having high cholesterol will protect you from dying from a heart attack, and, in fact, from death from any cause.

Low Cholesterol May Kill You

A recent study showed that in healthy older persons, high cholesterol levels were associated with lower non-cardiovascular-related mortality. This is extremely concerning because millions of prescriptions are written every day to lower cholesterol in the older population, yet no association has been found between higher cholesterol and heart disease deaths for those aged 55 to 84; and for those over 85, the association seems to be inverse — higher cholesterol predicts lower risk of death from heart disease.

The pharmaceutical industry, medical associations, and academic researchers whose budgets are provided by grants from the pharmaceutical industry continue to preach the wonders of statins, but studies like these should have us look good and hard at our current practices. Are we doing more harm than good?

Cardiologists recommend putting statins in the water and giving them out at fast food restaurants and having them available over the counter. They believe in driving cholesterol as low as possible. Statin prescriptions are handed out with religious fervor, but do they work to prevent heart attacks and death if you haven’t had a heart attack already?

Bottom line: NO! If you want to learn why this is true, read on.

Statins Don’t Work to Prevent First Heart Attacks

Recently, the Cochrane Group did a review of all the major statin studies by an international group of independent scientists. The review failed to show benefit in using statins to prevent heart attacks and death. In addition, many other studies support this and point out the frequent and significant side effects that come with taking these drugs. (i) If scientists found that drinking two glasses of water in the morning prevented heart attacks, even if the evidence was weak, we would jump on board. Big up side, no down side.

But this is not the case with statins. These drugs frequently cause muscle damage, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, muscle aches, exercise intolerance (ii) (even in the absence of pain and elevated CPK – a muscle enzyme), sexual dysfunction, liver and nerve damage and other problems in 10-15 percent of patients who take them. (iii) They can also cause significant cellular, muscle, and nerve injury as well as cell death in the ABSENCE of symptoms. (iv)

There is no lack of research calling into question the benefits of statins. Unfortunately, that research doesn’t get the benefit of billions of dollars of marketing and advertising that statins do. One big trial was touted as proving statins work to prevent heart attacks, but the devil is in the details.

It was the JUPITER (v) trial that showed that lowering LDL (or bad cholesterol) without a reduction in inflammation (measured by C-reactive protein) didn’t prevent heart attacks or death. (vi) Statins happen to reduce inflammation so the study has been touted as proof of the effectiveness of these medications.

Mind you it wasn’t lowering the cholesterol that helped (which is the intended purpose of statins), but the fact that they lower inflammation. What is ignored by people who use this study to “prove” that statins work is the fact that there are so many better ways to lower inflammation than taking these drugs.

Yet other studies have shown no proven benefit for statins in healthy women (vii) with high cholesterol or in anyone over 69 years old. (viii) Some studies even show that aggressive lowering of cholesterol can cause MORE heart disease. The ENHANCE trial showed that aggressive cholesterol treatment with two medications (Zocor and Zetia) lowered cholesterol much more than one drug alone, but led to more arterial plaque and no fewer heart attacks. (ix)

Other research calls into question our focus on LDL or the bad cholesterol. We focus on it because we have good drugs to lower it, but it may not be the real problem. The real problem is low HDL that is caused by insulin resistance (diabesity).

In fact studies show that if you lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol in people with low HDL (good cholesterol) that is a marker of diabesity – the continuum of obesity, prediabetes and diabetes – there’s no benefit. (x)

Most people simply ignore the fact that 50-75 percent of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol. (xi) The Honolulu Heart Study showed older patients with lower cholesterol have higher risks of death than those with higher cholesterol. (xii)

Some patients with multiple risk factors, or who have had previous heart attacks do benefit, but when you look closely the results are underwhelming. It’s all in how you spin the numbers. For high-risk males (those who are overweight and have high blood pressure, diabetes, and/or a family history of heart attacks) and are younger than 69 there is some evidence of benefit, but one hundred men would need to be treated to prevent just one heart attack.

That means that 99/100 men who take the drug receive no benefit. Drug ads say the risk is reduced by 33 percent. Sounds good, but that just means the risk of getting a heart attack goes down from 3 percent to 2 percent.

Despite the extensive data showing that statins are a questionable therapy at best, they are still the number one selling drug in the US. What isn’t so well known is that 75 percent of statin prescriptions are written for people who will receive no proven benefit. The cost of these prescriptions? Over $20 billion a year.

Yet somehow the 2004 National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines expanded the previous guidelines to recommend that even more people without heart disease take statins (from 13 million to 40 million) (xiii) What are we thinking?

Why would respected scientists go against the overwhelming research that statins don’t prevent heart disease in people who haven’t already had a heart attack?

You can find the answer if you follow the money. Eight of the nine experts on the panel who developed these guidelines had financial ties to the drug industry. Thirty-four other non-industry affiliated experts sent a petition to protest the recommendations to the National Institutes of Health saying the evidence was weak.

What Should Women Do?

It is time to push the sacred cow of statins overboard.

But first let me say this. If you have had a heart attack, or have heart disease, the evidence shows they do in fact help protect against a second heart attack, so keep taking them. However, you should be aware that most prescriptions for statins are given to healthy people whose cholesterol is a little high. For these folks the risk clearly outweighs the benefit.

The editorial that accompanies the recent study on women taking cholesterol-lowering medication that I opened this article with was quite clear. Dr. Kirsten Johansen from the University of California, San Francisco said that the increased risk of diabetes in women without heart disease has “important implications for the balance of risk and benefit of statins in the setting of primary prevention in which previous meta-analyses show no benefit on all-cause mortality.”

In plain English, she said that we shouldn’t be using statin drugs for women without heart disease because:

  1. The evidence shows they don’t work to prevent heart attacks if you never had one.
  2. They significantly increase the risk of diabetes.

Treating risk factors like high cholesterol is misguided. We must treat causes – what we eat, how much we exercise, how we handle stress, our social connections and environmental toxins are all more powerfully linked to creating health and preventing disease than any drug on the market.

Remember what you put at the end of your fork is more powerful than anything you will ever find at the bottom of a pill bottle.

My new book The Blood Sugar Solution, which comes out at the end of February, gives exact details on what you should put at the end of your fork to prevent and reverse diabesity. It provides a comprehensive solution to the health problems facing our nation today.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

What do you think of statins?

Have you taken statins? What has your experience been?

Why do you think the medical establishment prescribes drugs that research shows don’t work?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD


(i) Abramson J, Wright JM. Are lipid-lowering guidelines evidence-based? Lancet. 2007 Jan 20;369(9557):168-9

(ii) Sirvent P, Mercier J, Lacampagne A. New insights into mechanisms of statin-associated myotoxicity. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2008 Jun;8(3):333-8.

(iii) Kuncl RW. Agents and mechanisms of toxic myopathy. Curr Opin Neurol. 2009 Oct;22(5):506-15. PubMed PMID: 19680127.

(iv) Tsivgoulis G, et. al, Presymptomatic Neuromuscular Disorders Disclosed Following Statin Treatment, Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1519-1524

(vi) Ridker PM, Danielson E, Fonseca FA, Genest J, Gotto AM Jr, Kastelein JJ, Koenig W, Libby P, Lorenzatti AJ, MacFadyen JG, Nordestgaard BG, Shepherd J, Willerson JT, Glynn RJ; JUPITER Study Group. Rosuvastatin to prevent vascular events in men and women with elevated C-reactive protein. N Engl J Med. 2008 Nov 20;359(21):2195-207.

(vii)Abramson J, Wright JM. Are lipid-lowering guidelines evidence-based? Lancet. 2007 Jan 20;369(9557):168-9

(viii) IBID

(ix) Brown BG, Taylor AJ Does ENHANCE Diminish Confidence in Lowering LDL or in Ezetimibe? Engl J Med 358:1504, April 3, 2008 Editorial

(x) Barter P, Gotto AM, LaRosa JC, Maroni J, Szarek M, Grundy SM, Kastelein JJ, Bittner V, Fruchart JC; Treating to New Targets Investigators. HDL cholesterol, very low levels of LDL cholesterol, and cardiovascular events. N Engl J Med. 2007 Sep 27;357(13):1301-10.

(xi) Hansson GK Inflammation, Atherosclerosis, and Coronary Artery Disease N Engl J Med 352:1685, April 21, 2005

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


Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (205)

  • I’m a 53yo female with a significant family history of heart disease. My father died @ 47yo of heart disease and 2 other family members have had heart attacks. I’ve had high cholesterol since my 30’s and started statins in 2002 after a EBCT showed a small plaque formation. I’ve always been active , healthy, had a good diet and of normal weight. After attending The Daniel Plan rally last January I made more healthy changes in my lifestyle. I also stopped statins and used your suggestion of red rice yeast, glucomannan and a more plant based diet as outlined in The Daniel Plan. I also vigorously increased my exercise level. I’m now at 23% body fat (by immersion testing). I had my blood checked after 5 months on this plan and all my numbers looked quite good with HDL @72, LDL @120, overall @205, low triglycerides and low insulin resistance. As you suggested, I had my particle size checked and unfortunately these numbers were not good. I’m sorry that I cannot recall the specifics but I know that one number was supposed to be <500 and mine was 900 and the other number was supposed to be <1000 and mine was 1900. I definitely have the small, dense type of cholesterol that you warn against. My doctor suggested I go back to the statins and be retested in 3 months. I already feel the difference in my muscles. Now this new research of an increased risk of diabetes. I am the woman you speak of in this article. I will speak with my internist about it but would be interested in your opinion on the diabetes risk in relation to statins and particle size. I've read your opinion before on statins may be advised if one suffers from small particle size but you didn't mention it this time. I would definitely choose The Daniel Plan approach over statins given the choice.
    Thank you for your enlightenment on this important topic.

    • I am a 58 yr old female who has been a regular exerciser since the age of 26 and have been in good shape and good health. I was first diagnosed with a cholesterol level of 220 at the age of 33. The only remaining vice I had was smoking. So I quit, made some other lifestyle adjustments for health and went back to be tested 3 months later. The results? 239. I never believed this was a valid issue and did not have my cholesterol checked again until I found my PCP at the age of 44 in the year 2000. In 2002, when cholesterol was checked it was 287, I was put on statins and within 9 months cholesterol was lowered by nearly 100 points. Great, I thought…this is easy. I felt no side effects and since my grandfather died at age 38 of a heart attack and my dad had 3 heart attacks from this mid 40’s to his mid 50’s, this was the solution for me. But as I began to question other medical practices which I confronted my Dr with, he became more and more frustrated and so in 2012 our relationship was severed. Even though we didn’t discuss my leaving, it was evident that it was mutual. I understand Doctors are governed by a high authority(pharmaceutical industry). However, patients are not stupid simply because they haven’t gone to medical school and since we are paying them, it seems odd to try and bully patients into doing what the doctor wants because their numbers need to look good to their superiors. I have been on a quest to find a doctor now who will simply, do blood work, analyze the data, give me their recommendations if they need to but not expect me to do what they recommend simply because they recommend it. BTW, my father, who broke all of the rules with his health, chain smoked, had 3 heart attacks and was overweight, died at the ripe old age of 85 last year. Pretty good long life. Since I have been off of statins(about 2 years now)I have experienced severe leg cramps from my inner thigh, always on the right side. Like a spasm. Unlike the typical night time cramp in the calf or toes. I am unable to put pressure on it to relieve it. It has to run its course. Very painful, always at night. I have been a heavy water drinker since the age of 2, so dehydration would not be an issue. Any clues? And would being on statins for 10 years(although I am off of them now)be the culprit?

  • My sister-in-law has familial high cholesterol despite her healthy life style choices. She was so adament about not taking statins that her doctor, for this reason only, announced he would not accept the responsibility of having her as a patient. Last year, in her very early 60’s she experienced a minor stroke and within the same year, a second one. Under the pressure of doctors, she’s resigned herself to statins and a few other ‘prophylactic drugs’ In the studies you’ve cited, does the same apply to stroke risk? This would be very important information.

  • Hello,
    you talk about reducing sugar intake as one of the ways to battle high LDL levels. (my LDL – 116, HDL 63, TRIG -133) but i like to start the day with a fruit smoothie (berries, bananas, grapes etc…all fresh) – should i refrain from natural sugars that come from eating fruits? (i am a vegan)

  • last summer I went off of hormone therapy (estrace) I had been taking it for 15 years its been a struggle, I have changed my entire diet to better eating and nutrition, but the last time I went to doctor my LDL was 115 and my HDL was 59, the strange thing my HDL went up 11 points since I changed my diet and stopped Estrace medication, but my LDL went up as well I do not want to take meds and I am working to try and lower my LDL and after reading this article I do not want to take a statin drug. this was very interesting.

  • Okay this just makes me mad. I’ve been taking Crestor for the last 6 years, thinking I was doing something good for myself and now I was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago!

  • I was prescribed Zocor for elevated cholesterol. After taking it for a year (age 57) I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes on the basis of a HgA1C of 6.2. Soon thereafter i was placed also on a blood-pressure medication after discovering a pressure of 200/110. I am a runner and considered myself very healthy, but began experiencing muscle aches that were unfamiliar and terrible aching after running. I mentioned this to my doctor and was told to keep taking the Zocor. I discontinued the medicine anyway as a little experiment and the aching quickly went away. I then resumed the Zocor and it quickly returned. Unfortunately my cholesterol levels increased dramatically. Ironically, my husband, whose diet and lifestyle matches my own closely, had fine cholesterol levels. I did run another hgbA1C test after stopping the Zocor and it had decreased from 6.2 to 5.4 while I was off the Zocor. I decided to manage everything with greater attention to my diet. I shunned all processed food and although I will use sugar in conventional ways, I stopped eating gluten, which eliminated a lot of sugar-laden products. A few days ago my fasting glucose was 92 and my total cholesterol dropped from 297 to 240. My good cholesterol increased from 40 to 50. The bad cholesterol is 160. I continue on Avalide as prescribed for blood pressure, but I am convinced that there is a connection between high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol-lowering medication. Thank goodness for Dr. Hyman or I would still be obtaining food from packages and who knows where the Zocor medication might have taken me.

    • My name is Diana Lipski, and I was on Zocor, I was Crippled for 3 years by it and my Doctor, left me like that until I took myself of of it, I was actually Walking with a Cane, I had Horrible Pain and my leg would get blend while walking up the Stairs, I had to stay their while the Pain left my body, I also felt dizzy, the Pictures seem to be moving, all my Doctor did was send me to other Doctors. I got myself off of it in March 2012, and when I did I was able to Walk again with No Cane and No Horrible Pain, I had to leave my Daycare Job, that I loved because I couldn’t Walk. No, one should suffer like this. I suffered from January 2009 till March 2012, age 56 years old. I Pray no one has to Suffer because of this Horrible Drug, have a Beautiful, Loving Day.

  • I am a 68 year old man in good health but have had serios leg muscle pain from statins. I have tried statins 3 times and each time the muscle pain comes back quicker eah time. It gets so bad that I can hardly walk. So I am done with statins and will continue with fish oil and flaxseed oil.

  • I have been on cholesterol medicine since November 2011 when a 70% blockage in my arteries was discovered. A stent was placed in my artery. My only concern with the medicine, and I’m not sure if it is the Effient for clotting or Crestor making my body ache in every joint. I try to eat healthy but sometimes I fail. I did not have a heart attack but I do have heart disease. Should I continue with the Crestor. I am a 55 year old female.
    Thank you.

  • Dear Dr. Hyman,
    I went to a well known preventive heart disease doctor because my CRP was very high. He did further testing (that my internist did not do), showing extremely bad results in that I am at extremely high risk for a heart attack or stroke….I am also much overweight. The tests also showed that in addition to my being overweight and not exercising, there is a genetic component to it all.

    Besides watching my diet, and exercising, he wanted to put me on a statin drug, but when i told him i didn’t want it, (because of all the bad things I’ve heard about them and because of the fact I didn’t have much luck with them many years ago-ie. questran, mevacor and lipitor for short periods of time), he put me on Cholestene (and co q10), an over the counter red rice yeast…I took it for a few weeks then decided to try something else first–i wasn’t sure if the pains i was having in my muscles were from my existing fibromyalgia and/or from the arthritis i have, or from the Cholestene.

    It was suggested by an alternative medicine person that I try TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), –with the purpose of opening up my presumably clogged arteries and of feeling better in general. After only one week of taking these tablets and teas, my energy came back ten fold. I hadn’t felt that good in many, many years (I am 70)—and still feel good..(it’s been two months now), and I continue taking the Chinese herbs (and do exercise more than I did), but have not yet gotten a handle on my diet. I still feel healthier and more energetic, which, I was told, is because my circulation has greatly improved from the herbs, .. as evidenced in the Chinese doctor’s examination of my tongue, pulse and finger nails as well as in my increased energy. i look forward to continued improvement….I might add, that the two to three times a week that I exercise for a half hour a day, had not done anywhere near as much for my feeling this energetic in the past……and yes I know—if i would take off some weight I would probably feel even better…

    • Sheila, I would very much like to know the name of the chinese pills you are taking. My Dr. wants to put me on statins,don’t want too. I hope you can find the time to email & let me know.

      Thanks ,Barbara

  • I am a 58yr old woman, post-menopause and a diabetic.
    I take metformin (1700mg) and a statin(simvastatin 40mg), bendroflumethiazide 2.5mg and enalapril maleate 5mg. I have high bad hdl but also high good hdl almost double the normal eg 1.8.
    I struggle to control my diabetes and would love to stop taking all my tablets, my blood pressure is always high on attending the doctors but at home I usually achieve 140/80+
    I exercise regularly, walking at least 3 times per week plus yoga.
    I crave sweet foods, my weight is 65kgs, height 163cm.
    What would you suggest?

    Sandra Wingfield

    • Hi Sandra,

      Thank you for your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work! We suggest you look into his program called UltraMetabolism:

      Also, to get an idea of some info on how to handle cholesterol in a safe and effective way, please see:

      For a more in depth nutrition consult, please go to:

      In good health!

      • Dr. Hyman is making some interesting points regarding the risks associated with statins (cholesterol lowering medications) as well as about their limited benefits which are supported by other research articles as well. He also points out that the research supporting the benefits of statins has been done largely by doctors who get paid for it by the drug manufacturers. In deciding what is best for you keep in mind that Dr Hyman is also a business man who’s business is based on offering advice and services predicated on replacing statin usage.

        Also keep in mind that the only way that pharmaceutical companies can research the benefits as well as the risks associated with their drugs including statins, especially in the long term, is by conducting clinicals over a long time and a large patient population which can only be done by by practicing doctors with a large patient populations and these doctors will only perform such studies if they get paid for it since it requires time on their part.

        This is a long winded way of saying that the benefits and risks associated with any drug can only be researched through clinicals which can only be performed by doctors and they will only do it for money because it is service they provide for money. That does not however mean that they will actually misrepresent the results of their findings. However it can and it has happened. The only way one can minimize the risk of being misled is by researching the results of a number of studies and over a period of time.

  • Thanks so much for this article! I’ve been fighting my doctors when it comes to taking statins. I go on them for a couple of weeks and I have a reaction and feel lousy so I go off. I’m 55, female, a bit overweight, just getting back into yoga and light exercise, also taking high blood pressure meds (low dose) for past two years and my blood sugars are slightly elevated bordering the pre-diabetic stage… all started happening around the same time… I also take low dose lithium and topamax for bipolar which I think may mess with my weight and blood sugars. I eat fairly well, almost never eat fast food, don’t drink or smoke, no heart disease history and yet my cardiologist insists I am pushing the boundaries by not taking these horrible drugs. One week he told me taking niacin was fine and the next week he came back saying there was a study (May/June 2011) that debunks the niacin theory and actually can elevate strokes, blah blah… I told him, what happened to you, did the FDA get to you since I saw you last? So that’s my statin story… Thank you for reiterating what I already intuitively know. 🙂

  • I’m 74 and at one time my cholesterol was 278 ..with zocor it’s 162. I do have heart problems and take attenlol and diltiazem. No heart attacks yet. I now exercise with a class 3 times weekly and am starting Zumba today. Going on diltiazem, zocor was lowered to 10 mg. from 20 mg. I’m confused.

  • Dear Dr. Hyman: Thank you so much for this information. I am postmenopausal and struggling in many areas. Working to get my weight down have 20 more pounds to go!! I have elevated Triglycerides and have been prescribed Crestor and now lipitor which I have stopped taking!!! a couple of months ago as I know the side effects that they can cause! however so far I have had none…thank God.. I want to do everything naturally but so far have not been able to get the numbers down that way but I started on Krill oil and Vit C crystals…a multi mineral..vit d3 and also CoQ10…my diet is good…I eat a lot of veggies and fruit and get a good amount of protien also..dairy is plain greek yogurt or almond milk….grains are whole wheat although I know that is not so good for me I am better with other grains as in spelt, rye etc….I am well read and with all my knowledge that I have gained from people like yourself, should be in tip top shape but my insulin level and thyroid like to fight with me so these two issues I beleive have contributed to my weight over the years…I can get it off with difficulty but it sneaks back up as soon as I do anything wrong…not nic!! I am looking forward to your book I will be getting it as soon as I know it is available!! My doctor is fairly open minded but really wants me on statins and I am also trying bio-identical hormone therapy as I am struggling with shock sensations and night sweats which are hindering my sleep…the bio-identicals have not worked so I am having to go on estrogel pump for a bit to balance my hormones and then try something else as I am suffering badly. I have tried a lot of natural remedies but they don’t work. If you have any suggestions I would welcome them…Love your website, thanks so much!!
    Here’s to a life of good health!! Look forward to hearing from you!!

  • Dr. Hyman,

    Thank you for this information. My doctor is currently recommending statins for me. I am healthy otherwise, but LDL is 171. All other lipid numbers look good – HDL is 63, triglycerides 123. I have decided to seek the guidance of a nutritionist to tweak my diet instead. I already exercise 4-5 days per week. I am 51 years old. The side effects of statins worry me, especially when there seems to be so little evidence of benefits. If I live to be 80, what is the cumulative effect of this for 30 years?

    Your article has convinced me to continue to challenge my doctor’s advice regarding medication.

    • This is Ellie again, one year later. I went to a nutritionist, as I said I would do. All of my numbers improved dramatically! My doctor was very supportive. I have been continuing my healthy habits. My doctor said I was the kind of patient she used as an example for other patients. So everyone, please heed your doctor’s advice, but don’t be afraid to question and take some positive action on your own.

  • I am a 69 years old female and my bad chorlestrol is 245, but my good HDL is 52.
    I have been to 3 different doctors and all of them want to put me on medicine.
    This last doctor I ask him to do the test to check the size of the particles and he just dimissed it. I can’t bring myself to take the chorlestrol medicine. I don’t have high blood pressure, my fasting sugar is 90. I do have an irregular heart beat and take a pill for that (palpitations). I am over weight by about 50 pounds. I can climb 3 flights of stairs and if I take it slow I am not out of breath when I get to the top. I still work and try to walk as much as I can. I do get tired at the end of the day. I take Krill Oil 2 capsules a day and Vit D3 one a day. I have failed so many times a dieting that now I know I will fail so I don’t try to hard. I love ice cream, that is my down fall. I do try to eat healthy, just not all the time. I don’t trust the doctors in my area (family doctors) Should I go to a heart doctor?

    • Sheila, I would very much like to know the name of the chinese pills you are taking. My Dr. wants to put me on statins,don’t want too. I hope you can find the time to email & let me know.

      Thanks ,Barbara

  • There are many people that have refused any treatment of cholesterol but use diet and exercise for very good results. The side effects of statins are real and can be debilitating to some. I found it disturbing when the previous cholesterol limit was lowered again, thus encouraging even more use of statins vs diet/exercise. I appreciated this article but hope someone will look into thyroid issues, cholesterol, and statins. Which came first, etc. I’m curious about the interconnectedness.
    Thank you.

  • I’ve been told I need to go on a cholesterol lowering drug but I don’t want to. I have never had a heart attack and I eat well and exercise every day. What is the figure for ‘too high’ HDL?

  • I took the very first statin, Mevacor and subsequent replacements in my late 30’s and into my 40’s and early 50’s. By the time I stopped taking them, when Zetia and Crestor came out, I could not raise my arms over my head in my Tai Chi class, the muscle-wasting was so bad.
    My sister was not so lucky. She continued to take them at mega doses for 35 years and got severe muscle waisting, and many forms of cancer.
    Our family has members with the genetic markers for hyperfamilialcholesterolemia, or ratios of 11 to 1 of LDL to HDL . My total count has always been 10 times my age – 350 in my thirties, 650 in my 60’s.
    Granted my case is 1 in 10,000, but I follow the Zone ratio of proteins, carbs, and fats to avoid spiking insulin, choosing only the best forms in each category. I also follow a Blood Type O choice of foods, which means no wheat, corn, dairy, or soy among others, and eat strictly dairy and gluten-free,
    I walk between 5000-10,000 steps a day outside in sunshine, or on a treadmill in bad weather. Drink half my weight in ounces of fluids daily to maintain hydration, and sleep 8 hours each night.
    As an Integrative Health Coach, I counsel my clients to follow Dr. Hyman’s advise. (If he’s good enough for Bill Clinton and his family, then something’s working right.) I have written a cookbook: Gluten Freedom: EveryWay Comfort Foods, to help people transition from their favorites to more healthy replacements.
    The effects of gluten on chronic inflammation has been well documented by many medical spokespersons. I posit that if every person in this country, who was gluten intolerant, removed wheat, rye and barley from their diet, we would cut the nation’s health care costs for our aging population by 50%, due to the now known 148 different diseases that gluten intolerance activates through the inflammatory cycles.
    The recent Clinton Foundation Conference and Webinar: Health Matters, Activating Wellness in Every Generation was a wellspring of resources and programs going on around the country and will hopefully, jumpstart a new direction for Healthy Living for all ages, as well as creating more Healthy Communities across the land.
    Elizabeth Lowe
    [email protected]

  • I am 49 and have type 2 diabetes (a1c 6) and numbers normally below 130. My cholesterol is elevated, especially the triglycerides. I am currently taking Lovastatin, should I continue to take it? There is a history of diabetes in my family. I also have a very physical job but do not exercise regularly other than work.

  • Thank you for highlighting this important information, especially for women without heart disease. Understanding that statins are not the answer is an important step in choosing to make diet and lifestyle changes for a longer, healthier life.

    Food choices make a powerful difference for disease prevention!

  • I was never told my cholesterol was high until recently. It was 120 at last reading but now I see that my sugar has risen and I am now at risk for diabetes so I am questioning the use of statins that I am on now.

  • Excellent article Dr, Hyman!

    Hopefully more physicians will finally get on the bandwagon and stop recommending statin drugs like passing out candy at Holloween.

    A well researched groundbreaking book is scheduled to debut mid 2012, which should turn conventional medial wisdom completely upside down when it comes to understanding the root cause for obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, fatty liver, elevated cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. Our book will add more fuel to the fire in understanding how statin drugs are responsible for elevating the risk of diabetes by up to 71% in post menopausal women.

  • I am 55 and have been on statins about 7 years. I was told I would be crazy NOT to take a statin because of family history. My mother died suddenly at 63, my father first MI before 50, a brother with triple vessel disease at 52..leading to two stents, another brother with high blood pressure diagnosed at 30 yrs. of age, 3 sisters with high cholesterol of 280 – 400.
    Every statin I have tried gives me muscle aches with Vytorin 10/10 giving the least. After reading your article I may discontinue the med and see how my muscle aches are. When not on a stain my cholesterol is 280 – 300 , HDL, LDL and ratios are all great, I exercise 3 days/week on average, am very active in lifestyle and eat well, still gaining weight and am very frustrated! I also take Co-Q10 every day (liquid form).
    Thanks for the article and would like your opinion if possible.

    Denine Boyle

    • Genetic high cholesterol is a liver function problem negatively affected by acidic substances. in fact the protease enzymes involved areph sensitive in those born with this trait- and they dissolve ldld receptors. Therefore anything aciidc including “tart” orange juice or a sour so caalled healthy apple sets this off raising cholesterol. I am a health care professional and can tell you this is true! If your grapesare sour they wil raise cholesterol in People with FH. I know also becuase of my job and my family has this disorder.

  • Over the past 20 years my various Internal Medicine doctors often suggested that I go on cholesterol drugs I was a commission officer nurse with the USPHS. I had stage 2 breast cancer at age 53 and was treated by mastectomy and clinical trial chemo. (19 yr survival). I left the Service and became a Disabled Veteraan with care through the VA. At age 60, I was diagnosed with stage 2 diabetes and treated with metformn. My cholesterol levels were always borderline but the MD’s wanted to prescribe statin drugs for my condition. I was informed of the risks and chose not to take them. Thank you, Dr. Hyman, for keeping us current. . I look forward to your new book on diabesity. Last summer I went off the Metformin due to severe intestinal problems even following your diabesity program. On insulin I am not having the problem now, but I have gained ten pounds, so I need to get onto a good diet that will help me. I would like to get off the insulin or lower the dosage. My cholesterol level is good to borderline. I evercise often with golfing. I am 71 years old and am doing well, but think I can do better. Functional Medicine is the best!.

  • I’m 61 years old. I was given Lipiftor back in 1991 when my cholesterol was 299 and it did drop to 145 at the lowest point but I noticed that I was losing hair, nails peeling and coarse and I felt awful. One prescription renewal was rejected and I just said OK I don’t like this so I will stop taking it. About this time I started going to an Alternative MD and they checked my liver and found that my enzyme levels were just below the point of real danger. I had been off the Lipitor for one year. Co-Q 10 came into my life and I still take 100 mg a day. I have Type II diabetes, Hypertension and am quite Over weight. Lose a little, plateau out and gain 1 or 2 lbs. back. I’ve had breast cancer and was lucky that I used Thermography and it was caught so early (10 to 15 years before a Mammogram would find anything), that when they did a Mamo it did not show anything so they increase my exposure and got closer and magnified??? the Shots. An excised biopsy removed every thing but the surgeon still could not see or feel anything so they X-ray’d the tissue and compared it to the Mamo film. He said he got everything.
    So I guess I got everything going you talk about but I am working on my health. I use Organic Coconut Oil and take 4,000 Units a day and have changed to Krill oil. Everything is getting better except my blood pressure. Any suggestions will be considered. Thank you

    • To: Judy Mohr

      Have you noticed your potassium, magnesium and salt? Sometimes BP can be these out of sync. Also, did you know that you can soak in Epsom for Mag and your body will only take what it needs? I love the Organic Coconut Oil for many things, but I also cook with Grape Seed Oil for higher temps.

      To: Dr.

      I had heart attack at 47 during high stress time. The Cardio told me I had to get back on Statins. I don’t like them at all. Am I going to cause a second attack if I do not take them? Aren’t the numbers misleading when they are changed by meds? I am now 62 1/2.

  • What if your small particules are very high and you are 76? It seems it is better to bring them down when father and Mother died of heart trouble. I eat low carb.

  • Thank you Dr. Human. I have had cholesterol which was around 240-250 and my physician has been pressing me for years to take a statin. I am a graduate of IIN and knew from your lecture there must be a cause for the elevated cholesterol. I took matters into my own hands and had some testing do r only to find that all other markers showed no risks for heart disease. My c-reactive protein and homocysteine levels were well in normal range with my HDL levels around 90. Because I heard so much about high cholesterol I still thought I should try to lower it. I started taking rhodiola and cinnamon extract and the cholesterol went to 183. This is a start but my lipoprotein a remains high and it is my understanding that this is more difficult to lower.

    At first I thought this was great and maybe it is, but my HDL also went down to 65. I’m still interested in finding the answer to the question: Why is the cholesterol elevated in the first place?

    I look forward to future posts on this subject.


    • Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for sharing your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work and telling us a bit about your journey with cholesterol. As you know cholesterol is important to have as a building block for many steroid hormones and as an important substrate to surround the cells and serve as a fuel source for important organs. So the body naturally produces it and some of us are genetically predisposed to higher levels. What is important is how dense the particles are- the smaller and more dense, the higher the risk. Even though yours were on the higher side, you probably had light anf fluffy particles, happily flowing through your blood, not causing any inflammation. This is great!

      Please see this article for more important info related to cholesterol:

      In good health!

  • Excellent article! But, why would these drugs increase the risk of diabetes? We are told that if you have diabetes, then you are at increased risk for a heart attack.
    What is it in these drugs that would do this? Why do they cause muscle cramps, weakness, damage, as well as nerve damage? Exactly, how do they lower cholesterol? And, why would they benefit only those who have had heart attacks, if their purpose is to lower cholesterol so that a heart attack can be prevented?
    Just how closely is high cholesterol linked to heart problems? Is the medical profession missing other factors that have more significance?
    There seems to me to be some logic issues here.

    • Cholesterol does not cause heart disease. It also doesn’t prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol–any positive effects are now attributed to the mild anti-inflammatory effects of statins. ALSO, women do not appear to respond positively to statins. Their heart disease risk seems to be tied more to elevation of HDL >55, which can be accomplished in many instances by niacin.

      So if it’s not cholesterol… When the lining of arteries (endothelium), which is supposed to be smooth, becomes damaged by inflammation, healing is effected by a combination of amino acids, like proline (which the body can make from glutamic acid) and lysine (which must be obtained through diet), as well as dietary vitamin C complex (humans cannot synthesize vitamin C the way most animals can).

      If these are inadequately produced and/or inadequate in the diet, LDL cholesterol forms plaques to cover the damaged areas. These plaques can become oxidized when circulating antioxidants are low. If a plaque ruptures, the body sends special cells to the area in response. Clotting can occur as a result and, in the close quarters of a blood vessel, can prevent the normal flow of blood… a heart attack (myocardial infarction – cardiac muscle damage due to interruption of blood supply).

      Cholesterol is essential to health, to make hormones and vitamin D (also actually a hormone). Cholesterol is required by every cell of the body, including those of the brain. Our real problem is not high cholesterol, but abnormal levels of inflammation. This can be addressed by having adequate enzymes in the diet (fresh foods) which keep the blood stream clear of excess fibrin (a template for clots). Enzymes also help to break down the products of normal inflammation in the process of replacing old/injured tissues.

      Low cholesterol is associated with higher cancer incidence. Given its important functions in the body, this should not be surprising. There are studies suggesting that higher cholesterol levels promote longevity in women over 70.

      To my mind, high triglycerides (generally a result of elevated carbs in the diet), are of more concern because this is accompanied by slower blood flow due to a stickiness of blood cells. This hampers blood flow through capillaries, in particular, because red blood cells must proceed in single file–obviously hampered if there is clumping. The triglycerides may be the link you are looking for with diabetes, although diabetes causes many other problems, as well, through glycation.

      Of course, even in men, no protection from statins has been demonstrated against a first heart attack. And supplemental CoQ10 is absolutely essential if one does opt to go on statins.

  • I’m a diabetic and my doctor put me on 40 mg of Lipitor and at first it didn’t bother me but after awhile my muscles ached so bad and I was so tired all I did was sleep…I heard about all of the negative effects of this drug and I decided to stop taking it and started to eat healthier…When I went to him in July 2011, my triglycerides were 166 and my ldl cholesterol was 172 and my total cholesterol was 252…I told him I stopped taking Lipitor because of the negavtive results on my body and because of the negative feed back from other sources and he had a fit…He told me my cholesterol was almost as important as my diabetes and he wanted me to resume taking it…I have not been back to him since because he was rude and he didn’t seem to get it when I told him how this drug was making me feel…When I stopped taking it, the symptoms immediately went away and when I would start back, they would begin again…I decided I wouldn’t take Lipitor anymore and would take my chances…I’m trying to watch what I eat and cut back on the meats and I’m eating more fish and other foods that will help lower your cholesterol the natural way…I hope it works…..

  • Hi, I was prescribed the lowest dose of pravachol and within three days my pain was over the top since I already had pain from fibromyalgia. I quit them and my pain went back down to the normal level for me. Since then from what I’m reading about Statin drugs only a uneducated Dr. would recommend them unless the patient was out of control of his cholesterol.

  • My oncologist prescribed Lipitor for me several years ago. I stayed on Lipitor for 5 years and experienced bothersome muscle stiffness. After following an anti-inflammatory diet, exercising 3-4 times/ week, and taking supplements (Niacin and Garlicin amongst them), my cholesterol ratio was improved and I discontinued the Lipitor. My cholesterol since has run a bit high and the oncologist continues to recommend the Lipitor. I continue to decline the offer of that prescription because of the side effects. I am grateful for information that I receive from the holistic medical community and my nutritionist who educate me in regard to the influences of big-business pharmaceutical companies and their influence on government sponsored studies, incentives given to physicians to write prescriptions, etc. I prefer, instead, to treat my high cholesterol with careful diet, physical exercise, stress management, sleep/ rest, meditation & prayer.
    I have learned to question all recommendations given by physicians and to get 2nd, 3rd, 4th opinions when needed to make my own decisions about my health care. Explore all options and always remember that you are in control of your health!

  • Thanks for the great article. I’ve been prescribed every statin available, and all have given me problems ranging from muscle pain, elevated liver enzymes, GI pain and Livolo gave me intense itching and hives. Even though the breakdown showed that most of my LDL was “bouyant” and not a risk, my cardiologist insists I need a statin, but my functional med doc says that his mother lowered her cholesterol 90 points in 6 months by drinking a soy-based protein shake twice a day. That’s my approach for now.

  • With all the hype of post menopausal women stopping thier cholestoral meds, what about red rice yeast? Is this a safe supliment to take? How should you get off of your meds? Cold turkey?

    • Hey Geri,
      Thank you for writing in about RYR and cholesterol. Unfortunately we cannot provide you specific advice on your plan without knowing more about you and even then we cant prescribe via the web. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your zip. Progress accordingly from there.

      also, check out:

      RYR is usually prescribed as a safe alternative to most statins because it helps maintain wellness regarding a constellation of symptoms implicated in Metabolic Syndrome which is often associated with elevated dense lipids. Most important to know is the particle size of your cholesterol. The smaller they are, the higher the risk. Good idea to work with a functional medicine provider closely on these topics for the safest and mst effective plan!

      In good health

  • A suggestion to all; I tried Dr. Oz’s book “You on a Diet”, after 3 months my lifelong high cholesterol level, ratio, lipid profile were all PERFECT. I was stunned and amazed. Blood pressure was great .Unfortunately , I had developed diabetes while on Lipitor for 5 yrs. I knew then about the muscle weakness but didn’t experience that, what I did experience were complications from having diabetes ,which I truly belive was caused from the statin drug. Before I ever had started Lipitor my blood sugar was always perfect; suddenly jumping to high after being on Lipitor! Now I’m dealing with trying to reverse the nerve damage.

  • I am a 55 yr old healthy woman who exercises regularly and doesn’t have a weight problem. After my last physical, my cholesterol count was 225. Right away my doctor prescribed 10 mg of Pravachol once a day. I took the medicine for one week and noticed all kinds of muscle soreness, muscle weakness and cramping. I immediately stopped the medication and started researching my side effects online. As I am already following Dr. Hyman’s Ultra Metabolism program, I felt the risks outweighed the benefits. I told my doctor that I’m more concerned with my CRP numbers than my cholesterol count. BTW, my HDL is above average and my triglycerides are low. I think it’s terrible how the pharmaceutical companies have so much power as lobbyists. Each of us must look after our own health. Thanks, Dr. Hyman for being such a needed resource.

  • I wonder about the effects of red yeast rice. I am 60 and just started taking it to lower my cholesterol. My HDL runs about 65 which is good but my Total cholesterol runs around 200 or a little higher. Have similar studies been done on red yeast rice?

    • Hi Anna,

      Thanks for your interest in dr. Hyman’s work! RYR is often recommended to people who are predisposed towards metabolic syndrome- the constellation of blood sugar, dense cholesterol and blood pressure. At the root of all of these are poor diet- read: processed grains, refined flours, quick sugars, candy, syrups etc. and the wrong type of fats- trans and high saturated fat. Without fiber, vitamins and nutrients necessary for manufacturing the necessary hormones and neurotransmitters, the body can be imbalanced. RYR contains statins, but it also contains other consitutents which have been shown to be remarkable in calming inflammation and lowering Metabolic Syndrome so we usually suggest it for the right candidate. We always say to check with your medical provider as we cannot assess or diagnose over the net! To locate a doctor who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your zip. Progress accordingly from there.

      In good health!

  • I am concerned for my 78 year old mother. She has been taking statins for years. She is on Prevastatin sodium among many other medications. She is dizzy alot and has numbness in her feet. I tried to mention that maybe statins were causing some of this but he just ignored me. I would like to have my mother stop taking them but she likes her doctor and is afraid he would stop seeing her. Some doctors are like that. She lives about an hour away so I can’t keep tabs on what she takes daily. I have seen her decline in the past 6 months. I wish I knew what to do. I know medication did in one of my aunts when she was in the hospital of all places. I hate to see my mother’s like shortened due to doctors and drugs. She has no heart problems and I wish I could find a way to get her off some of her meds.

  • Great article
    What drives me crazy is the notion of total cholesterol which is really a meaningless number
    There are plenty of ways to reduce small particle LDL, reduce triglycerides and increase HDL like a low art, high fat, medium protein diet
    Keep up the good work Dr Hyman

  • 15 years ago my Dr. prescribed Baycol for high cholesterol, which was subsequently taken off the market. I was then given Lipitor. After a couple of years the Dr. noticed that I was getting high blood sugar readings and would have to watch it or I would have to go on diabetes meds. I found I could not tolerate Lipitor as I got terrible pains in my legs, so then was given Crestor, but still the same problems. Then I found out about alternative medicine and realized that my having taken the cholesterol lowering meds were probably responsible for my high blood sugar readings, so I went off them about 5 years ago, but unfortunately I still have some high blood sugar readings and really have to watch what I eat and exercise, but I also realize that if I start taking meds for high blood sugar, I could be setting myself up for other problems down the road. It seems that big pharma only wants to educate the Drs to get them to give you their latest poison, that might later be taken off the market. We have to educate ourselves and take responsibility for our own health and not just rely on the Drs. who in a lot of cases are only telling you what the big pharma has told them, and it ain’t necessarily so.

  • My partner had a stroke June 2009, and was put on statins in the hospital. She had resistsed taking statins until then. In the hospital, she displayed heartbreaking cognitive deficits and severe anxiety disorder with frequent panic attacks, resulting in further medication with SSRIs and lorazepam. Thanks to Dr. Duane Graveline’s work, I began to suspect at least some of her difficulties might be statin rather than stroke related. When she came home from the hospital, I discontinued the statins, with some trepidation. Although she now has some residual impairment to executive functioning due to the stroke, her cognition is not otherwise impaired, she is on no antidepressants, and needs a chip of lorazepam only in extremely stressful situations. For her, the effects of statins (and red yeast rice) on cognition were far worse than any muscle aches. I think most people are largely unaware of what a devastating protocol statin therapy can be.
    My partner does have metabolic syndrome, and a lot of abdominal fat, so we are truly looking forward to your book, Dr. Hyman–thank you.

  • I’m grateful, you brought this to your readers attention………….It’s all about the power of MONEY…… Keep up the courage, to help the UNINFORMED… Brigitte. = over 65

  • Despite a relatively low “high” cholesterol reading and no history of heart disease, my doctor put me on Crestor a few years back. I also started biking every morning and lost 20 lbs over a few months, but had to stop because my hands were becoming increasingly sore and stiff. By six months, I felt like I had a burning coal in each and every one of my joints, especially when I lay down to sleep at night. I use my hands for work and the hand and arm pain was so bad I was seriously considering having to quit working or retire. My doctor simply shrugged and said I would “get used to” the pain! My Internet research pointed to the Crestor as the likely source, and also revealed the questionable benefits, so I quit it instead. Within a few weeks, the pain started to subside, and now, three years later, I realize that the stiffness and pain are just a memory, fortunately! Now I rely on aerobics and diet to keep me healthy and I don’t pay much attention to my cholesterol numbers.

  • Thanks for this article. I’ve been on lovastatin for about 10 years. My numbers were borderline when I started on the meds, but for the last three yrs, numbers are excellent. I had asked the doctor to lower the dosage, but he told me that my numbers were only good because of the medication. I have lost a lot of muscle mass, I have a lot of leg cramps and I ache all over but did not know that it could be related to the medication I am taking. I am 71 years old, I walk 30-40 mins five days a week, I eat healthy. I weigh 125 lbs. Your article really opened my eyes. I did not think from the very beginning that I should be cholesterol meds. Thanks once again.

  • Have never taken statins and doubt i every will. I do not even own an aspirin!

    I liked the fact that this article gives references and critiques of the studies used to push these drugs. I like the fact that you addressed inflammation as a/the disease cause but wish you had elaborated on this point.

    My one criticism/question is why not talk about the levels of cholesterol standards in order to give people benchmarks to judge for themeslves how they may be doing.
    My understanding is that Big Pharma took a standard of 275 approx, and pushed it down to 200 when their market for sales was becoming saturated. Now they want to push it below 200 and are talking of forcing it on kids.

    I think this needs to be discussed in greater detail so people will have concrete tools to work with.

  • I have been on statins for very high cholesterol,350 without meds,same issue my dad had, about 7 yrs now.i take Crestor and do have muscle pain,guess I’ve gotten used to it.i have developed type 2diabetes in the past year, and this article is very upsetting.i had gestational diabetes whenn I was pregnant and am told this was likely because of that.isnt it dangerous to have my cholesterol go back up to 360 if I stop taking statins?i am wondering if the diabetes would reverse if I stop statins?

    • Hey Leslie,
      Thank you for sharing your concerns with high cholesterol. The same foods and lifestyle which prompt high cholesterol with small particle size is also what predisposes us to diabetes. So while going off the statin may improve your insulin sensitivity the best answer to give you is to look at diet and how yours may or may not influencing your genes with these diseases! Check out this article for more info:

      In good health

  • Great article! I am 62 with somewhat “high” cholesterol but won’t take statins. My partner’s doctor continually tries to push statins on him despite the fact that he lost weight and brought his numbers way down (the doc is obese, by the way!). My father died at 84 (a suicide with bad COPD and developed AF at the end) – he never had high cholesterol (and ate tons of meat and eggs and few veggies all his life) but they had him on Zocor that pushed his cholesterol down to 160. My mother, now 84, is on low dosage of pravachol – doctor added zetia which she took briefly but I had her stop that because I thought her numbers were low enough – and I want her to stop the pravahol (even more so after reading this article). She’s reluctant to believe me about it – I think that entire generation has way too much faith in doctors. I have VERY little faith and absolutely agree that most of them seem to be on this “the lower the better” kick without seeming to question the constant ratcheting downward of the recommended level. The populace is to blame, too, with our desire for “magic pills” instead of actively addressing the problem. People take statins and think they can continue bad eating habits – give statins to children instead of addressing their awful diets?- believe that current guidelines are true even when it’s obvious that many guidelines of yesteryear were bunk. . . (like believing the government USED to lie to us but doesn’t anymore?) Make Gardasil vaccinations mandatory for children because it “may” prevent HPV that “may” cause cancer? Maybe there are secret mass lobotomies going on somewhere! Thank you, Dr. Hyman, for reminding people to not be such sheep. (Although people getting your newsletter tend to not be such sheep in the first place.)
    ~Don’t worry about your health. It’ll go away.~

  • I just had my cholesterol checked and it is high after being off Crestor 5 mg over the holidays. I am sad to know I will go back on it or Lipitor when I see my doctor next week. It doubled and I wasn’t eating very low fat or feeling real good either.

  • I was put on Lipitor after a hypertensive episode…..and a small TIA. I had no visible damage and felt and moved well. The blood check revealed high Cholesterol and so was given Lipitor. Over time and an almost imperceptible slide in my sense of well being……finally resulting in an near inability to get in and out of bed. It would take five minutes of effort to do so. I started using a cane and thanked the Lord I had an elevator in my building One night……I awakened and said, “THIS IS A DRUG REACTION”. (I had made three trips to the physician’s office to report my deterioration……to be asked what I expected at my age.) ” Incorrectly”, I took myself off the Lipitor……..eventually wangled an appointment with the doctor, not his minions, and told him. He accepted my perception and suggested alternate
    other anti-cholesterols. I refused. He also graciously accepted that.
    I began to feel better, my muscles again gradually did my bidding. My blood cholesterol readings are probably back up……no one checks them. I’m not the
    gazelle of previous times but I get around well and still use a cane outside. I’m
    in my 80th year and enjoying life.

  • I’m a 55 year old female and have been going through menopause for about 4 years now. My cholesterol started to go up during this time. My HDL is good but my LDL goes as high as 176. My family has a history of heart disease (Mother & Father) but their lifestyle included smoking and unhealthy eating habits. I have none of those factors. I gained almost 20 pounds duing menopause but am slowly getting that under control. My doctor put me on pravastatin and I could now tolerate it at all. Muscle pain, and sleeplessness and I just did not feel good on it. I am trying harder now to exercise regularly and I am eating more fish like tuna and omega 3’s. I have already proven by doing this my LDL starts coming down. I have 2 older brothers and one younger sister and none of us has had a heart attack.. My oldest brother is 73. We do not smoke, drink, or have bad eating habits. I am so glad to have read this new study results about statins because I could not stand taking them. My doctors put the fear of god in me if I do not take them though. I’m just going to up my exercise and my intake of natural cholesterol lowering foods and hope for the best.

    Thank you Doctor Hyman for this article.

  • Your article is definitely timely as Statins are being pushed by so many doctors. I have had high blood pressure since the birth of my 2nd child 34 years ago. At that time I was very slender and athletic. I have been on Statin drugs for at least 15 years. However, about 4 years ago I learned about you and started following your programs and reading as much as I could to get healthy. Since then, I have become gluten free and have been lactose free for many years. I also, discussed the statins with my cardiologist, and I brought an article about red yeast rice to him. He allowed me to switch and try it. I do not seem to have the same symptoms as the prescribed meds and have my cholesterol under 200. My question is: Does the Red Yeast Rice have the same risks with diabetes as the Statin Pharmaceutical drugs. I understand there is special molecule added to the Lipitor and like statins that cause more damage. What do you know about that?
    I never had a heart attack, but have heart disease on both sides of my family.

  • I and my wife are 66. We have both been on statens for 5-6 years. i have never had a heart attack, nor has she. I was put on beta blocker (Atenol) and staten (lipitor–15 now 20 mg) after testing and angiogram showed I had a 100% closed LAD with collateral capillairy circulation and another 50% closed coronary artery. I had slight failure to fully profuse my heart when I engaged in tennis, aerobics, etc. in addition, after reading a lot about it, I strongly insisted and got consensus from my cartiogogist to take slow niacin. The niacin definitely show results in rasing LDL, lowering HDL, reducing lipoprotien a and increasing the size of both HDL and LDL. My wife is on 45 mg lipitor, is overweight and partly due to bad knees get little excercise. (I think she is a diabetes. I stopped taking the atenol, on my own because of bad side effects, but really did not realize the lipitor was NOT effecacious, nor that the side effects for woman are so extreme regarding diabetes.
    FIRST: Why wouldn’t there be the same diabetes issue for men? Are thier studies?
    SECOND: I think both are otherwise very good doctors will pooh pooh your statements. So, what do we do?

    • Hi Seymour,

      Thank you for writing in and letting us know more about you and your wife. We do not suggest you go off the medicine without speaking with your doctor. However we also suggest working with a functional medicine physician. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your zip. Progress accordingly from there.

      It is prudent for both you and your wife to think about diet and its impact on cholesterol as you mentioned you believe your wife has diabetes. Controlling blood sugar and monitroing insulin levels is a great start to managing cholesterol. See this article for more info:

      In good health

  • I was first given Lipitor when in was in my mid-40s for high cholesterol (@260). For awhile I went off it and my cholesterol was up to 340. Granted, I wasn’t doing anything diet or exercise-related to help bring it down. However, at that point, my pill-pushing doctor put me on Simvistatin. Needless to say, chronic muscle aches and (what I presume is) inflammation have followed. I took myself off of statins a couple of months ago after hearing about their ill effects, and I have no plans to go back on. My plan is to begin a gluten-free (or at least reduced) diet, but not before seeing a Functional Medicine doctor to be tested.

    There is no doubt in my mind that statins and other expensive drugs are approved and “pushed” on patients at the financial backing of the drug companies. It’s appalling to me how many doctors prescribe meds rather than getting to the root cause of patients’ problems and don’t keep up on (or care about) the findings against these drugs. Shame on most of the medical community!

  • My doctor is pressuring me to take statins due to high ldl cholesterol but I have high hdl cholesterol too and they don’t seem to care. My diet is vegetarian and I almost never eat out of a can, box or if it is wrapped…I walk at least 4 miles a day and I am 69 years old. I am afraid of statins and I am hoping what was missing in my diet was fiber. I have checked everything I eat and am shocked at how low fiber is. I have found ways to get my daily fiber to 25 or 30 grams a day and so hoping this will do the trick…..thanks for the report it was very helpful!

  • A Phyisician’s assistant told my husband “All Cardiologist take statins” My husband’s response…”That doesn’t mean they are right. Do yourself and family a favor…do your homework before you take drugs.

  • Took my mom off glyburide years ago. She began to get muscle cramps. So did my brother.

    All are doing fine now. Even though my mom is had previous strokes none have occurred since taking them off many, many, years ago.

    I did change her diet to the high-fat non-processed WAP diet. Her ulcers also healed on her feet. Vegetarian diet did not work and proved disastrous.

  • When people have relatively high levels of cholesterol in general, there is a specific reason why your body produces so much of it. Furthermore, your body or liver makes about 85% of your total cholesterol no matter what kind of foods you eat. In all the cases that I know, high cholesterol values are being produced by the body because your body senses correctly that you have a high level of internal and mostly silent inflammation and/or your steroid type hormones which includes vitamin D3 is out of wack or too low. In my opinion by forcing your cholesterol levels to drop would be putting lots of excess strain on reducing the inflammation and getting your hormone levels optimal. Without going into too much detail and taking up a lot of space here, what people should do in my opinion is to not take any statins but take at least 3,000 mg per day of DHA + EPA in the form of a high quality cold water distilled fish oil, krill oil or for vegans, flaxseed oil. In addition, take enough vitamin D3 supplementation or get about 20 to 30 min per day of UV-B type of radiation which radiates at between 290 nm and 320 nm only so that your 2,5-hydroxy-D in your blood is between 70 and 90 ng/ml which is the optimum level and helps protect people from getting cardiovascular problems and cancer down the road. And don’t forget that both vitamin D3 and all of your steroid hormones which includes testosterone, estriol, estrogens, prognedolone and cortisol all comes from the only starting ingredient which is cholesterol!!! If you lower your cholesterol too much, or even some, then you run the true risk of not having enough your hormones mentioned above and vitamin D3 as well.


  • Thank you for this article. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes about 9 years ago after losing both of my parents within three months of each other — stressful! I have been taking a statin, one or another for many years. I do have a bicuspid aortic valve — never a problem, never a symptom. Have never had a diabetes symptom either. I do have a lot of stress but handle it well. I do yoga and other exercise approx. five times a week. Am I still ok to stop the statin because of the bicuspid valve? That’s my only question. Actually, I won’t take it again — but would appreciate a response on the heart issue.

    • Hi Rollie,

      Thank you for your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your zip. Progress accordingly from there.

      Or we would be happy to help you with nutrition related work. Check us out:

      In good health

  • Thank you for the very encouraging article. I have had high cholesterol for 15+ years, took Crestor for a short time which did bring the cholesterol down but I didn’t like the idea of taking it. My total cholesterol ranges between 230-260 and my LDLs are about 130-150. HDL is in the 50’s. It’s quite confusing as a complete vegan to know what to do. My diet is not the cause, not even sure the high numbers are a problem although my Internist, Cardiologist and Acupuncturist think I’m going to drop dead of a hear attack! I have no risk factors at all except for my high numbers. CRP is perfect and I take tons of supplements. Anyone have any feedback? Thanks!

  • MEDICAL MUTUAL send me communications saying that it thought I would benefit from talking to my doctor about adding a statin to my regimen. I am a type 2 diabetic with excellent chloresterol levels and an A1C of 5.9. 57 years old, no history of heart incidences. Since when does an INSURANCE company suggest drugs to its clients?

  • Five years ago I was put on 20 mg of Vytorin and after about two weeks of this therapy, I bagan to have muscle aches in my legs. This became so much worse that I was unable to walk at all. Using crutches I went back to the doctor. He seemed unaware of what the problem was and prescribed a pain medication. After some thought and web research, I stopped taking the drug. I heard Dr. Hyman interviewed on the radio stating that a change in diet would help reduce inflammation. Your Ultra Simple Diet was extremely helpful in giving me more than a partial recovery.
    A year or so later I had a heart attack and required a triple bypass. My new cardiologist insisted I go back on a statin drug and was going to prescribe another 20 mg dose. I refused insisting that 20 mg was too much for me and that I would only take the lowest dose possible. It seems that all the pharmaceutical companies recommend a 20 mg dose. Lipitor’s smallest dose is 10 mg but even that is causing my well being to be compromised. On a recent vacation my legs ached so much I had to curtail my walking…that was a bummer!
    My solution to this ongoing problem is to stop taking the Lipitor. I’ve read your comments about heart patients needing to take a statin drug but losing my mobility is a tragedy to me.
    I am 79 years old and not ready to give up. I am taking Ubiquinol 100 mg and a capsule which is a combination plant sterols, folic acid and omega 3. With that and careful eating I am hoping to stay healthy with no more muscle pains. After a few weeks of this new therapy I am feeling better already!

  • I have been on Lipitor for 11 years. I had been unable to keep my cholesterol in control inspite of drugs (non-statin),exercise and diet until I started taking Lipitor. A substantial decrease in my cholesterol occurred in just a few weeks after I started taking the Lipitor and it eventually lowered and maintains my cholesterol in an average of 119. I have not experienced muscle or oher aches/pains related to Liptor. However, I was diagnosed as a type-two diabetic about five years after starting the Lipitor, but I control the diabetis(normal range) by diet and exerising. Diabetes is prevalent in my family, including mother, aunts,etc. Due to this heredity factor of diabetes, it is questionable as to whether the diabetes could be attributed totally or even partially to Lipitor. Also, I am healthy otherwise, so far. I am 77 yesrs old.

  • after taking pravastatin and simvastatin for approx 2 years,i experienced strong musclar pain am still unable to lifand severe weakness,so much that i can no longer lift even light body becomesexhausted earlier each day

  • I have carefully looked at all the literature (both scientific and lay) on high cholesterol when my physician wanted to put me on statins. I read that it is thought there are 5 – 6 or more causes of high cholesterol in humans and that statins treats only one of them. So…it is not a one size fits all drug. I refuse to take statins and this article just lends me more support as a post menopausal woman. THANKS!

  • Hi-
    I am a healthy 62 year old woman with heart disease in my family. My mother had a heart attack at 45 and my father at 70. Neither died as a result of those events. My LDL is 198 and my HDL is 91. My cardiologist is practically begging me to take a statin. I have tried several and had side effects. Instead, I decided to try a very low carb diet to see what happens. I will be retested in a few months. Thanks for the article. This confirms my research, and my decision not to take statins.

  • I am glad to see that my belief against taking these (I am 62, female) with only moderately high cholesterol holds true. I do wish you would show an article relating to men taking cholesterol drugs…been trying to get my 63 year old husband, also with moderate cholesterol levels and no history of heart disease, to stop taking them just because the doctor says so.

  • I am taking a low dose of Prevastatin to lower my Cholesterol which was creeping up to 230. This is the only cholesterol lowering medication that does not cause leg cramps for me. Other tests showed I am at a low risk for heart disease and strokes. I am taking a statin because I have read ,and my doctor says, that it helps in other ways such as preventing Alzheimers. I would like to have more information on this.

  • Hello Mark, this reply from my 58 year old friend in London with Diabetes 1 :I” read the article with interest. There is no doubt that statins cause muscle problems. In fact, some years ago I had four cortisone injections in my shoulders before the doctor said that the statins might have caused the problem. I stopped taking at once and the pain disappeared. However, I am now on them again. Medical profession here puts all diabetics of my age on them I wonder what Dr Hyman would make of that???”

  • I’m a 73 year-old man in very good health. Do these remarks apply to men? Recently tested cholesterol results show me at 202 overall, with trigl 52 and hdl 114. I’ve been taking Zocor, 10 mg for twenty years and have had none of the side effects mentioned above. My md recommended I reduce Zocor to 5mg for six months, then check again. Again, does this diabetes warning apply to men as well?

    • Hi Milt,

      It seems like you are doing well and your HDL is good. Keep working with your doc to monitor your levels!

      In good health

  • I also tried various statins and within a couple of days the aching started in. I felt like an old lady! My doctor than recommended niacin. I’ve been slowly increasing it because of the flush. I’ve gotten kind of use to it. My LDL, which is my only bad number, is continually getting lower. I watch what I eat, exercise and just started meditation. Hopefully, the niacin will continue to help. Thanks for the info on statins. For anyone else deciding to use niacin, please consult with your doctor first.

  • I am now a 68 year-old woman who has suffered for many years from taking first Zocor, then Lipitor, generic Lipitor, and finally Crestor. ALL three of these drugs caused me to have horrible muscle spasms which traveled all over my body. After having read that these drugs cause muscle pain and spasms which can eventually become Rhabomyolosis (spelling?) a possibly fatal condition I decided to remove myself from each individual statin drug I had been prescribed after having taken them for many years. I became a diabetic during the time I was taking these statin drugs–probably about 7 years-ago. I have had treadmill tests over the same years and received clean bills of health each time. I have also undergone two cardic catherizations and up until six years ago when I had the last catherization of my heart I was told by my physician that my coronary arteries were “slick-as-a-whistle.” However, despite of these test results I was kept on statin drugs. During this past year I have taken myself off of these drugs for the final time and will not allow myself to be talked in to taking them ever again due to the pain and muscle spasms I have experienced while on them in the past. I am taking supplements and trying to eat right in an effort to help control my cholesterol levels but I have decided that “we all have to die of something some day” and I would rather not live a life tortured by continual muscle pain/spasms all over my body for the rest of my life. I have all of my levels checked regularly and while my cholesterol levels have risen somewhat they are not extremely out-of-range which is fine with me!

  • Thanks, but I’d still like to know if this DM effect operates
    similarly with men who are on statins.

  • My doctor has had me on Pravastatin for almost a year. In fact she even increased the dosage after 6 months and just as I expected, I gained weight and now am pre-diabetic. I am not considered over weight at 5’9 and 158 I am at the high end of what they tell me is normal. I only weighed 139 when she put me on the meds.

    I resisted for 3 years my levels were never overly high until they started the statins, which raised my glucose levels as well as lowering my thyroid levels.

    After reading your article, I am now going to let my doctor know that I intend to stop taking both the statin as well as the thyroid meds and resume my idea which was to take red rice capsules as well as my mushroom (13) capsules.

    I told my doctor exactly how I expected the statins to affect my lifestyle ” If I take those pills it will suck the life right out of me! It will just lead to more and more pills and I don’t believe in that form of medicine. I know because I have seen what they have done to my husband as well as my friends husband. But mostly because I have never seen anything that says high cholseterol is necesarilly a bad thing. There is no evidence to support that high cholesterol causes heart attacks or heart disease.”

  • Am I reading this wrong:

    During the 3-year period of the study, 10,242 new cases were reported – a whopping 71 percent increase in risk from women who didn’t take statins.

    Shouldn’t it read … 71 percent increase from women who DID take statins?

  • I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 43. I have been overweight since the age of 10 .One of the first things a general physician said to me was you should be on a statin. I tried taking lipitor and that lasted three days, I had such bad muscle aches I stopped taking it. Recently I took tricor for three months and drastically lowered my cholesterol, and triglycerides, but it raised my liver enzymes. So as I said Iam danged if I take it and danged if I don’t. Since my diagnosis I have tried several oral medications but my a1c kept climbing up to 10, just recently ( a year ago) I began taking a slow acting insulin, my fasting blood sugars are from 85-150 but my bedtime blood sugars are from 185-330. So mya1c is only down to a 9. But I have had horrible trouble trying to lose weight while on insulin. The drug companies have been using insulin for 100 years yet while on insulin I can not lose weight, which is why I have diabetes. So they will always have patients.

  • I am grateful to those folk who shared their experiences of the side effects of taking various statins.
    Vytorin was recommended by my doctor to lower my cholesterol, & after I complained of the side effects of Crestor this was her recommendation. I explained the muscle aches especially in my arms, & the general feeling of weariness every morning. My shoulders ache all day & I felt it was the side effects of the medication. After reading the above comments I feel relieved that there are others like myself experiencing similar side effects. This has given me the resolve to visit an alternative therapist & seek other ways of lowering my cholesterol which is actually just .6 over the normal limit.

  • The link to functionalmedicine,org doesn’t work. Is there another method to find a local doctor that practices this?

  • I am an almost 67 yrs. old, Hispanic , married female, on blood pressure meds and Niaspan 1000 mg. I also take supplements, Omega 3 and calcium +D. I have total cholesterol of 202. LDL is slightly high. HDL is low (borderline). I exercise, started doing weights, eat healthy. I do not want to take statins, which my doctor has recommended. Would increasing Omega 3 to 2 or 3 mg/day help lower cholesterol?
    I presently take 1mg/day. Would you recommend a specific plan to lower cholesterol? I remember reading an article you wrote last year on this specific subject. I misplaced it and cannot find it now.
    Thank you,

  • hi there , ijust found out i’m now alergic to all the english NHS medication i’ve been given,over the years ..but , the lady Dr i saw, put me on something called Plant Sterols, a type of natural statin for my high cholesteral, 5.2, its been worse, seems to be working,fine…but since then i have also put myself on a non gluten diet, and i’ve been seeing what a lot of you are saying about fishoil tablets, i might renew my aquaintance with them.. over the years , i’ve had one illness after another , as soon as i get over one lot , another takes its place , i’m so sick of being ill, and now will try anything to eliminate this nightmare, ..people think i’m a hypocondriac, ..believe me , nothing is farther from the truth, i eat well allcooking done from scratch, very few takeaways,, plenty of fresh veg, fruit,etc, but i still have this constant “getting ill” thing, can anyone give me an answer

  • Thanks Dr. Hyman for posting this. It’s something I’ve really been wondering about. I had a cardiologist insist I go on a low dose of Lipitor because my cholesterol was a little high, 221. My ratios are incredible, HLD very high. I am tall, very thin, no weight issues, eat super healthy, exercise, all of the right things. He said it was hereditary and I have no choice. I am unhappy being on it because of potential consequences. Now, I’m going to rethink this. Thanks again. PS – this is the question I wanted to ask you during the last Daniel Plan rally when we were in the green room.

  • One more note, I think I am going to go off Lipitor. After reading this again, I think the risk factors are too high for me. Yes it did bring my cholesterol down, but it worries me more being on it. Does that make sense?

  • I have had leg cramps all my life. When I was young the called them growing pains. As I got older they continued mostly in my feet and toes. The doctor put me on quinine and that seemed to slow them down. Then the FDA stopped the use of quinine for any other reason except its main purpose. It was right around this time when he put me on semivastatin. The cramps started to get much worse. Not only in my feet and toes they were in my inner thigh and groin area and in my rib cage. They became so severe that it would wake me out of a deep sleep. I would cry and scream. My husband tried warm clothes, bean bags heated in the microwave etc. as soon as I would lay back down they would start again. It was making me crazy, It was disrupting my sleep. I discussed this with my doctor and he tried me on different medications including Gaberpentin for leg pain. It did not work. I heard you talking on Dr Oz show about statins and how bad they are for you. I started to wonder if they could have anything to do with the severity of my cramps. I did a test and went off them for 3 weeks, during that time starting almost the first day my cramps decreased, then went away completely. I went and talked to my doctor about it and we have decided to continue to be off them and check my blood levels after 2 months. I HAVE NOT had a major leg cramp since. I have had a couple of toe cramps which I can live with. However I can not live with the extremely severe cramps I was having while on statins. Now my doctor says he has researched it and we can add them back slowly. NO WAY WILL I EVER TAKE THEM AGAIN. I WOULD RATHER DIE YOUNGER THAN LIVE WITH SUCH SEVERE LEG CRAMPS. (My cholesterol was on the high side but not through the roof. I am over weight and my A1C blood test was 6.2, so I fit the diabesity catagory, I take metformin, but he has never said absolutely I am diabetic. I have gone on a low glysemic diet and lost 45 lbs and my last A1C was 5.7))

  • Thanks for this informative article Dr. Mark. I was given a prescription for Statins from a young primary care Dr. who, in all honesty, meant well and was doing her job. All my bloodwork, lifestyle, family history showed ZERO risk factors for heart disease, except for an elevated LDL and being over55+. I threw the prescription in the trash and decided to stop eating even the occasional ice-cream , frozen yogurt, and decaf coffee. I am a firm believer in EVERYTHING you say about drugs: my otherwise very healthy mom died at 80 from breast cancer after 30+ years on HRT. Public awareness and the cessation of drug ads are crucial.

  • I was on statins for about six months around age 50. I felt awful! Every muscle in my body ached. Thanks for this article!

  • Thank you for such an informative article. I have been a statin guinea pig by my doctors. This is trial three. My side effects are as follows: wretched insomnia, extreme muscle cramping, and joint pain. All three did not show any difference in side effects. I will be stopping any type of suggested statins as of this moment.
    My triclycerides (sp) are terribly high though. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Nelia,

      Thank you for sharing your health story with us. It sounds like you could benefit from an antiinflammatory diet. This means eating foods, spices and herbs which turn off the body’s reaction to inflammation, stress and all things “tight.” You can find a lot of great info on inflammation and how to eat to cool it down here:

      Are you taking a Fish oil? Magnesium? Read this article for more info on Magnesium how it relates to your sympotoms:

      Finally, high TGs are usually indicative of overconsumption of refined sugars and processed carbohydrates. How does this match up with what your diet looks like and where can you make some changes to increase the amount of whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet etc. and starchy root veggies such as sweet potato and beets? Beans and legumes are also a great source of carbohydrates along with the more obvious nonstarchy vegetables and fruits. The goal is a low GI diet which is HIGH in fiber and nutrients and LOW in quick absorbing sugars…

      For more personalized nutrition coaching, see:

      In good health!

  • Hello Dr. Hyman,

    I have been following this for some time. I had read “The Cholesterol Myth”, which is a very worthy read on this subject; he discusses the studies and their flaws. I am wondering if red rice yeast proposes the same sorts of issues. Due to cardiologist pressure, I succumbed to this protocol that also has coenzyme Q10. I did find that for a brief period my blood sugar was a bit high, an issue I have never had prior ( I am 60yrs). I lost a few pounds, although I am not overweight, & cut back on my sweet indulgences a bit, & jacked up the exercise & that worked. But I certainly wondered about the connection….

    My Best,


  • All my lipids are high–well, except HDL, which is only 40. I’m female, 62 , 5′ 9″ and weigh 140 lbs. In the past have been put on Lipitor and Tricor–both of which caused the muscle pain so badly that I was evaluated for pericarditis because I could hardly walk from one room to another. Then I was tried on Niacin, but the skin burning was very bad. As of a couple months, I am on Zetia alone and am hearing horrible things about it. Lately, I have very bad back pain, and upon awakening, my hips hurt (if I have been lying on that side). I am scared of these drugs, but I am also scared of my high lipid levels. My diet is not that bad. My cardiologist says I’m low risk otherwise. He seems frustrated with me because I complain about the drug side effects. He says I read too much. What in heaven’s name are people like me supposed to do?

    • Hi Sandra,

      Thank you for writing in about your cholesterol. Yes it seems like you might be frustrated with good reason! But there is hope so not to worry. What your Doc probably didn’t tell you was exactly how much of a role your diet and lifestyle can help. By doing a few simple yet incredibly powerful things to tip your cholesterol ratio to a healthy value you might not have to be on medications. For instance, changing the type of carbohydrates you eat, taking certain supplements and getting a certain type of exercise have all been shown to improve cholesterol ratio’s. Especially important to raise that HDL is cardovascular movement -so get going a little but each day. Even if it is a quick walk, the tiniest bit helps!

      For a more personal nutrition consult, see Dr. Hyman’s nutrition coaching program:

      Check out this video to learn more:

      Also, did your Doc check an NMR profile? This will tell you just how inflammatory your particles are. This info is more important than you would think so if you do not know this info, perhaps try working with a Fucntional med provider! To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your zip. Progress accordingly from there.

      In good health!

  • Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to say that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your feeds or even I success you get entry to constantly fast.

  • Thank you for this very informative article Dr. Mark. I am currently enrolled at IIN and have been following you since hearing you speak in NYC. I am excited to read your soon to be release book!

    My sentiments echo the question above… “what … are people… suppose to do”? My mom (71y/o) had bypass surgery 14 months ago. She has had very high cholesterol (300+) and high BP for many years. She never actually had a heart attack; her symptoms sent her directly to the angio suite and subsequently to the OR. For many years she has had “familial” hypercholesterolemia with poor tolerance to statins, hence she didn’t take them. Additionally, she has poor tolerance to many of the BP meds but finally found one that works. Since her surgery I have worked with her on her diet, reducing (she won’t eliminate yet) white flours and meat and recommended increasing all the above mentioned along with supplements. She was always an active person, not obese. In the last 10 years she gain much weight around her belly and attributed it to aging since she doesn’t eat much. (what little she did eat was nutritionally questionable). Now on a plethora of drugs… she still doesn’t tolerate statins but has no choice; her cholesterol is still high (I don’t have accurate numbers), her fatigue is unbearable and her BP is unstable. Her recovery was slow considering her “good” health prior. Her fatigue seems to be an impediment to much exercise although she states she does some daily. Now her primary care MD told her to stop taking all of her supplements – Multi, Coenzyme Q10 (Ubinquinol) and Probiotics. She is on a low Dose 2000 IU Vit D3 – which he has maintained (lives in the NE) I am at a loss on how her condition is being managed and she just follows the doctors orders. She has labs for an upcoming blood draw to include TSH, FreeT4, and Lipid profiles. He isn’t even ordering the complete thyroid profile. I do not live near her so I have not been able to go accompany her to her MD. I have searched the area for physicians/programs such as yours but there are none. What are people suppose to do? As a coach I can only make lifestyle suggestions; but in cases such as my mom her doctor is/has the final word.

  • I was placed on statins in early l980’s. I took them for many years. In that time I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, pre-diabetes, and GERD. I was also on NSAIDS for pain. I gained more and more weight and couldn’t seem to lose it. I had always been energetic and active. I also had high blood pressure and GERD. In 1985 after an automobile wreck I became so tired and lifeless I could not do the job I had loved dearly, and I was asked to resign. I tried just doing volunteer work in the field I loved, Social Work. Soon I realized that I could not do that either and was spending more and more time in bed. In 1992 , I had an extreme reaction of NSAIDS and had to control my pain by t I finally realized that perhaps the weird symptoms I suffered from was related to statins which still did not control my cholesterol or triglicerides below the then standards of the medical profession and that has since been lowered. I threw statins away completely. By then I was a fullblown diaberotic on two medications plus 3 for high blood pressure, Prozac and Prilosec daily. BUT, after throwing away the statins, I began to regain my strength up to a point. I could even get out and buy groceries without a store scooter. I could travel with my husband who job took him to several southen states. BUT I still did not have the energy and could not do a lot, but a lot of the weird symptoms like chronic diarrhea had disappared. I had recently read about the tendancy toward diabetes that women develop. ( I personally think that one day it will be discovered that NSAIDS cause a lot of health problems besides stomach problems and congestive heart failue, and I personally think that statins are causing a lot of fibromyalgia diagnosis that are, in fact, a side effect of statins. At 67 I have a lot of friends that have been diagnosed and my first question is, “Are you on statins?” The answer is usually “yes”. Thank you for your willingness to compile and expose the dangers of medicinal side effects that induce other diseases. Keep up the good work, Linda

  • So, went for tests to a local health sciences referred by my pysician to see what make up I had and whether I could take statins for a total cholesterol of 295 (HDL at 60 +) Weight currently 175 and on metformin 500 (times 4per day) for diabeties 2. He put me on CoQ10 and didn’t have anything to say about where we were going with this when I had a follow up appointment to go over lab tests. Just told me I had very good D levels in my makeup. (Walk 50 minutes, 6 days a week) Didn’t go back. ‘Took statins years ago for 6 months till muscle pain began. Doc still concerned about my cholesterol! Changed eating habits about a month ago to more vegetables, fruits,good lean portions of meats and herbs and spices, the like, thinking low glycemic. So, question: What about the other types of cholesterol meds given like gemfibrozil (lopids) which is what I take now? Is there more I can do? Would love to turn the diabeties around.

  • I had high cholesterol diabetas and high blood pressure. overweight. I went mostly vegan and found I was lactose and gluten intolerent. Changed my diet. My alc is 5.7 last glocose was 85. My ldl was not what they wanted so wanted to start me on statin again. I had been on lipitore and it was not good. So when they told me to start taking crestor. I said no and now I am feeling unsure if I did the right thing. My weight is a problem, but knee problems was causing me to no be able to walk etc. I don’t want to take medicine , but I know medicine don’t change the disease, but mask it. I had lost 70 lbs. I was shocked that this dr said I needed statins because they say they re intergrated medicine.

  • Is it just my computer or do none of the links in the comments not work. Thanks.

  • I am a 71-year old woman, in good general health and I run a business full time.
    I was given Mevacor after a mild heart attack ten years ago, along with a blood pressure med. In about two years, I had horrible muscle pain in my upper arms, hand tremor, dizziness, worsening cataracts, and increasing memory difficulties. Discontinuing the blood pressure med eliminated the dizzimess, and within two weeks of giving up the Mevacor, the hand tremor was totally gone and has never recurred, the muscle pain was much improved but it took a year to regain the full range of motion in my arms, my vision markedly improved, and I could feel the fog clearing from my brain. I still don’t have quite as good a memory as I had.
    AFter a good deal of research, I am convinced that my body and brain need whatever level of cholesterol that they produce normally. Also, there is research indicating that dietary cholesterol, blood cholesterol levels and artery plaques are not correlated. I have told my doctor that I do not want the blood tests because I will not under any circumstances take the medications.
    I did lose 30 pounds and eat much less, very little red meat, very few carbs and sugar. I do not take any prescription drugs. My blood pressure is normal, blood sugars slightly high, general health good. I do take cinnamon for blood sugar, COq10, benfothiamine, hylauranic acid, serrapeptase as well as basic vitamins and minerals. I feel that the less interference with my basic body chemistry the better. I have seen friends and relatives become almost nonfunctional on statins.

  • I have to be honest, I’m really disappointed with the whole Functional Medicine approach. I read a lot of your books and articles. I found a functional medicine doctor to work with me on my High Cholesterol without statins. When I first started with him my numbers were: Total: 395, HDL 34, LDL 312, Tri: 245. After working with them for a year, with change in diet, exercise and supplements as well as following the stuff in your books; my numbers were: Total: 478, HDL: 28, LDL: 399, Tri: 257 as well as Small LDL-P over 3500 and HDL-P Large under 0.7. And I was taking RYR, which caused my liver enzymes to elevate. So now i’m back to working with a specialist in cardiology who put me on 20mgs of Crestor. Truth is, I don’t know who is right here, but the numbers don’t lie. I think it is erroneous to discourage people from taking statins when it isn’t you who has to worry about these high levels. We are the ones that have to pay if you are wrong. I think there needs to be a better collaboration between the two views of treatment for high cholesterol. If your method was the right way to go, as you clearly state, than I should have seen improvement. You should write an article about how to manage the side-effects of statins or about the least harmful statin to use. I think you need to be more careful about the information you give people, especially when you have the power of the media behind you.

  • Dear Dr. Hyman,
    I have been taking a Statin for several years. I am not convinced that a Statin does what my Family Physician believes. I am stoping the Statin and taking an OTC medication that will reduce my cholesterol. I believe that the Statin has caused me more problems than it has helped me. Me good cholesterol ( HDL) is 81, my bad one is (100) . However, my CPK has always been elevated and I am experience nerve damage in my lower extremities. I believe getting off the Statin will help my situation. I also believe that the drug companies are not giving an accurate account of what women at different ages should do in regards to post menopausal .
    Thank you, respectfully,
    Sylvia Sheehy

  • re: statins

    I highly recommend that everyone read Dr. David Agus’ new book, “The End of Illness”. I found it to be the single most trustworthy & important book on health I have ever read.

    He analyzes the data a bit differently from Dr Hyman, apparently. I’ve been checking the source materials myself, and cannot agree with Dr. Hyman’s interpretations and recommendations.

    In “The End of Illness”, one can get a true sense of weighing benefits versus risks. And that’s what it is all about, apparently.

  • I see that this is a slightly older post, so don’t know if it will receive any reply.
    I am a “newly” post-menopausal woman (going on 2 years) and also newly noted as having high cholesterol. Since I have never had high cholesterol before (when tested), until I was tested 6 months ago, and my very recent test shows that since then it’s gone up, I assuming the change has to do with menopause. I have not changed my diet significantly–sort of a grab-what-I-can ovo-lacto vegetarian. High cholesterol runs on my mom’s side of the family, and my two older siblings both had it and are on cholesterol-lowering drugs.

    My total cholesterol is 275, which I understand is very high, but I am terrified of getting on the drugs. I’m thin (everywhere but my belly), normal weight, ex-smoker, and willing to change my diet and exercise–motivated at this point. Is it too late? Do I have to get on statins?

    –Donna in Washington state

  • Statins are a nightmare. The muscle pain alone is enough to take these dangerous meds off the market. I have developed Type 2 Diabetes. I stopped taking statins. I visited doctors for years for muscle pain with no solution until my neighbor saw me walking stilted and said I bet you’re taking a cholesterol-lowering medicine. I was taking Crestor. Later I took Zetia prescribed by my doctor. This was worse than any statin you can imagine. It actually bruised my skin and practically crippled me. These are dangerous meds–statins and Zetia. Help should be offered to people prescribed these meds and paid for by the pharmaceutical companies–I believe. I ended up in the emergency room. This is an awful medication–any cholesterol-lowering medicines and Zetia.

  • I am 48 years old and have have high cholesterol for 25 years now – (total raning from 220 to 260 – LDL – 160 – HDL 65 – Trig 130. BP 107/65 – fast glucose – 85. No other condition but the high cholesterol. My doctor prescribed Crestor once, and I took it for three months as a test – but my liver enzymes skyrocketed so he suspended it. I am a vegetarian since 2009 and 60 days ago I went 100% low fat plant based diet (no sugar). I am extremely disappointed as I have lost 13 pounds (I am now 162 in a 5’5 frame) and my cholesterol went up 5 points from the last measure – it´s now 245.
    Last year my doctor asked for an exam (I don’t know the name in English), that whle you are running in the tradmill they inject you ith a contrast and later put you inside an equipment to see the arteries. Nothing was found, it was an excellent exam.
    Now, he wants to put me back in the statin but this time a lower dosage of Pravacor. My mother was a diabetic and my entire family has high cholesterol and with a strog history of liver disease. My mother actually died of a liver cancer. With the plant based diet my liver enzymes dropped dramatically to normal levels and I am very happy with it. But I dont want to take the statins. I have no other risk factors for heart but I do have those for liver. According to the above, I shouldn1t take it any way. So how do I lower my cholesterol if the nutritional approach is nor working? I wrote Dr. McDougall and Dr. Esselstyn to see if genetic cholesterol does exist and if I should accet the statin after all. Waiting for an answer now.

  • Dr. Hyman,

    We really like this article because one of the many main things we focus on is women’s health. We’re always interested in hearing new discoveries about new medications and the “do’s and don’ts” about them. We do alternative approaches with our treatment to patients and we love hearing your helpful opinions on everything on these blogs.

    Thanks for posting this,

    Dr. Akoury
    AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center Myrtle Beach SC

  • Hi! At 46 I had a MI with one artery blocked, life-flighted from Sun Valley to Boise with an angioplasty the next morning. I had been under great duress with cholesterol a little high. My family history is father, high BP, fast pulse, Congestive HF, MI and death at 50 (smoker) 1966. My brother who had Type I but a great athlete, succumbed to left ventricle dysfunction and stroke after being terminal for 4 years after heart attack and pacemaker. 2008.

    I took statins, Toprol, Aspirin, Lisinopril + anti-depressant (I felt that Paxil might have contributed to the MI, as well as overdosing with Ibuprofin) along with Levoxyl. After reading so much negative about statins for several years, I got off them. Then I got off aspirin for a while. I was using Flax, better oils to cook with, COQ10, fighting homosystein level, but when I had a AL/Lipid Protein test last month and the result was not #30 BUT 282!!!!!, the doctor said I was killing myself.

    I still do not want to take the statins, however, I want to be as smart as I can. I like Natural meds processes when possible. I believe my taking coconut oil did raise my good cholesterol but most doctors laugh at that. I have not tried the red yeast. I did try Niacin once but didn’t stick with it.

    What can I or should I do? I would love to hear your comment. Thanks.

  • Hi,
    I am 57, female, never had a heart attack, have very high level of good cholesterol and according to repeated tests, alarmingly high levels of bad cholesterol. I have been prescribed Crestor.
    I must admit that I eat a diet high in fat.
    Is it safe for someone like me to stop taking statins?

    Thank you .


    • Hi Hortense,

      Thank you for your interest in Dr Hyman’s work. Unfortunately we cannot answer this level of query here. However if you would like to work with Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team, they would be happy to help you personalize this information. To connect with them please go to:

  • I am only 45 years old and was bullied into taking statins several years ago-with only a slightly elevated cholesterol level. I now have inflammatory peripheral neuropathy from dymyleination of the nerves from taking the statin drugs. I stopped the statins, but teh doctors never warned me this could happen and I have permanent nerve pain/damage and I am still young. My entire life has been ruined. Doctors do not warn people about this and the end of with their lives and health completely destroyed like mine.

  • Really interesting and insightful post! As promoters of the plant diet to reduce cholesterol and maintain it at a healthy level in the long term we’re completely against the use of statins for women and men; this simply confounds it even more!

  • I am a 73 year old woman who recently suffered a stroke in the Pons area of my brain stem. I was prescribed 40 mg Lipitor and had a terrible reaction to it. Complicating factors for me are the condition Inclusion Body Myositis, high bp (medicated) and a history of diabetes and hypothyroidism in my maternal family line. I am being pressured by my HMO doc. to take 10 mg of Lipitpor. Is my case an m of a wise use of a statin?

    • Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I am a 60 year old female, Total Chol 303, LDL >200, LDL 76. I exercise 5 days a week by walking 3 miles at 4.6mph. My BP is normal, BMI is 25.3. My numbers mirrow my mom’s who died at 80 and never had a heart attack. I had a scan of my carotid artery,[ Mild plaque, formation, velocity normal], abdominal artery, [normal], ankle-brachial inded normal. My Cholesteral kreeps up every year, and I have strong feelings against medication. My PCP and I have the discussion every year, and he understands my feelings and thoughts, but it makes him uneasy. I would like you thoughts. Thank you.


    • Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • what is dr. hyman’s definition of heart disease? is high blood pressure, etc. considered heart disease?
    thank you.

    • HI Julie,

      Dr Hyman views heart disease as a constellation of symptoms and imbalances in the body which can be seen in lab results. To learn more about diabesity and how this relates to heart disease, please see

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • I started taking Crestor 3 days ago. I have never had a heart attack but my cholesterol is 321.
    I am not an emotional person, I have a very easy going attitude and I don’t worry about anything.
    All of a sudden last night I’m crying uncontrollably for no reason at all.
    I don’t like the side effects of this drug. I think I’d rather just live with the high cholesterol than the emotional crap.

  • I am a 51 year old female. My fathers family have high heart attack rate (ages 50-60) My cholesterol has been high since the first time I ever had it checked. (early 30’s) I have been on a few diets, lost weight and was eating almost perfectly, but my cholesterol was the highest it ever was when checked that 6 months. So..i’m thinking it is hereditary.
    I also take a blood pressure medication but a very small dosage. Which I have tried to come off of a few times and sure enough my blood pressure starts to rise so I continue to take it. When I started taking cholesterol medication it was Lipitor. My problems seems to creep in but eventually my legs hurt so bad I told the doctor after two years I wasn’t going to take it any more. He then started me on Crestor which I have been on now for about three +years. Just the last year I have seen side effects like the Lipitor. Muscle pain that is bad in my legs again. I have also in this time frame been diagnosed as border line diabetic. I don’t know what to do. I feel all this is causing me my problems but am also afraid to quit taking them as my family history is so bad. After reading your article I now wonder if I’m not causing my more problems than I am fixing things that could (but haven’t yet) happened. My bad cholesterol is bad, my good is bad, my triglycerides that have never been really high are elevated the past year. I am menopausal and now that is just another hoop to have to get through. I feel like I am falling apart and I am being to wonder if I’m doing this to myself. I would like to know “exactly” what I need to do to help myself. (forgot I have kidney stones and make them on a regular bases) I would like to take something that would be natural. If losing weight is all I need to do I can do that too….but I will be the first to say, when this all started I wasn’t overweight. I am the apple shaped lady with all my fat collective in my midsection. If you have any suggestions or a direction in which I could pursue I would appreciate any info. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I am 51, had a vascular spasm 6 months ago that blocked off a small blood vessel. I was put on Lipitor, metoprolol and plavix as my drug therapy. I did my cardiac rehab – loved it – did well. I get @300 minutes of cardiac/cardio activity a week. I requested a reduction in my lipitor dosage from 80 to 40. My liver function number is slightly elevated. My lipid panel is great – 167 total. I do not have inflammation and my cholesterol size is at the good end of the spectrum.
    I do not have blockages in any of my arteries. I want to get off as much medication as I can. I don’t want another heart event.
    How does estrogen play into this mess? I didn’t have high LDL until I hit menopause. It is currently at 90.
    There is so much conflicting information out there it makes my head spin and so many of the studies have NO or few women.
    I want to live a good life.

    • Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I have had 4 TIAS over the past 9 years. I he been on statins since but have never had a heart atack. My cholestral ranges from 210 to 240. I want to get off statin drugs. Do you think this would be okay?

    • Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Hi!
    I am a 69 yo woman of normal weight with slightly elevated total cholesterol (220) and slightly high LDL. However, my “good” cholesterol is high and my triglycerides are low and I have a very strong family history of type 2 diabetes. I am lucky I have an excellent physician who respects my desire not to take statins and after reading your article I am even more grateful. Thanks!

  • Hi: I have a cholesterol of 7 and the doctor has prescribed crestor. He said my diet was OK and I must have a genetics problem; although, I read thyroid information that cholesterol is definitely a part of a thyroid problem. The thing I need to know is what I should be eating naturally to lower the numbers. Thanks. Helen

  • I am 65 five years old. I was prescribed lipitor and in the long run was diagnosed with polymyositsis. My spelling may

    be off, but my muscle pain and slight immobility and movement is not. It has set off the onset of diabetes and

    fibromyalgia. Then I refused to take the statin drugs, but did once again. I started taking Crestor when I was told my

    liver and kidneys were shutting down and I could die. More sideffects (coughing, dry mouth and throat) led to

    feeling weird and the other symptoms caused lack of sleep swollen tongue, plus vomitting mucus. Even fenofibrate

    causes these symptoms. Heart problems run in my family but I have not had one. I go for walks and trying to get a

    good diet, I am very worried.

    • Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      If you would like information on becoming a patient at The UltraWellness Center, please see “How to Become a Patient” at This site is designed to give prospective patients a comprehensive source of information about The UltraWellness Center. You may also feel free to call The UltraWellness Center at (413) 637-9991.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

  • I am 62 years old and had a minor heart attack on my 54th birthday. The doctor implanted 1 stent. After that I was put on 80 mg. of zocor and 5 of norvasc. I have consistently had muscle pain of varying intensity. About 8 months ago, my zocor was reduced to 20 mg. Surprisingly, at this point my muscle pain worsened and I began having leg cramps. I went off zocor for about 2 weeks and my muscle pain lessened considerably. As an experiment, I took another zocor one night,and woke up feeling as if I had been hit by a truck. My doctor had me try crestor, and the severe muscle pain returned. Since I am scheduled to see a cardiologist later this month, my doctor suggested that I also eliminate the crestor. My cholestrol has increased, but at this point not to dangerous levels.

    I have had no heart symptoms since my heart attack. I have read that b-12 and niacin can lower cholestrol I realize I need to discuss all this with my cardiologist. I have started the b-12 and niacin. Are there any other supplements which might help lower cholestrol?

    Thank you.

  • Just what exactly truly motivated u to create “Why Women Should Stop Their Cholesterol Lowering Medication | Dr.
    Mark Hyman” vabik ? Idefinitely loved the post! I appreciate it -Noe

  • When I read this it brings me to tears, although it was my father who died from statin use. July 2010. At the time there didn’t seem to be anyone or anywhere to find this info, so I’m glad to see this, tho too late for us, and I hope people take it seriously. His story makes me mad and sad at once, but the short of it is that he had Hep C since the early 1970’s from a blood transfusion. Took excellent care of himself and was extremely well considering his age 75 yo. and length of HepC. Dec 2009 after one of those body scan clinics–whatever they are– his cardiologist put him on 80mg daily Lipitor because of plaque in one carotid artery (knowing full-well of Hep C and his internist approved!) My dad stopped taking it after just 18 days, but it was too late. He died 6 months later! Horrible, horrible death, horrible medicine, horrible care.

  • I truly love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme.
    Did you make this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my very own blog and would like to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Thanks!

  • I was on chloestoff whne my level was 320 and in 6 months went down to 200. So Ive been taking cholestoff for several yrs now all of a sudden my level is 403 and trigs is 200.He wants me on lipitor but I refuse . I eat so healthy and work out now Im scared if I dont take this Ill have heart disease and Im only 60.They say dont take otc niacin cause im on blood pressure meds.Every doctor I talk to says different stuff. Im scared to death of dying early if I cant get this level down. Do you have any replies about cholestoff which is natural and do u think it really works all the time.

  • Given that statins can cause diabetes in women, should we be taking red rice yeast which is a natural statin?

  • I mean, the thing is unbelievable. Bone mass is about 10% less
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  • I had a catherization of the heart when I was 72 and the doctor told me that I had 18 year old vessels and the strongest heart of any lady this age. He turned around and put me on pravastatin 40 mg. Sometimes my legs fill like rubber and it only lastest about 5 minutes or less, but my legs fill like they are going to fall out from under me. I have cramps in the back of my knees and calfs of the legs. I am taking myself off this medicine and see what happens. I am now 78 years, last time my sugar was taken it was 89. This medicine makes me fill real bad some days. Thanks for letting me express my concern about Pravastatin.

  • Dear Dr. Hyman,

    I am a post-menopausal woman who has been on a statin drug for approx. 15 years. I have always had blood work done indicating that all my cholesterol numbers were normal and muscle enzymes were also normal. However, I’ve always had leg pain and recently lowered my dosage, on my own, from 80mg to 40mg/1xday – which hasn’t made that much of a difference. My father had heart disease, but smoked for 40 years. Thankfully, I’ve never succumbed to that habit. I also do not drink.

    I’m confused at this point in time. I’ve read parts of Dr. Sinatra’s book regarding statins, but don’t know what to do. So far, no doctor, including the cardiologist has told me to STOP taking these drugs.

    What is your opinion?

    Thank you,
    Debby Ash

  • I think taking Simvastatin may be the cause of severe muscle problems in my legs and hips.
    Last year,I was diagnosed with CLL and believe that is from taking Statin drugs also.

    Is it dangerous to quit this statin drug?
    Would love your input on my issues.

    Thank you,

  • Question regarding Simvistatin.

    Could taking this statin cause my CLL Diagnosis and severe muscle problems.

    Thank you,

  • a

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after
    checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to
    me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  • I am 63 years old and have a cholesterol of 10.5 and have had the main artery of my heart stented. I do not like statins but have been frightened into taking them. I am honestly confused. I am taking the statins but my IBS has become much worse and I don’t know if there is a link there or not.

    • Hi Doreen,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to:
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I am a 58 year old woman. Yes, I weigh too much. I am 5′ 2″ and currently weigh 173 lb. My doctor told me about 5 years ago when I weighed 167 that he would rather I weighed no more than 145. So, I lost some weight (17 lb), but life got complicated and I gained it all back and them some. So, here I am trying to lose it again. I am using Weight Watchers and I am walking 20-40 min/day at a brisk pace. I went to my doctor 2 weeks ago and he mentioned the weight but said my BP was good (130/70) and my pulse and breathing were good too. Then he sent me for labs. I just got the results today and I was shocked when I opened it to find a prescription for Lipitor. I had already read a couple of articles about the fact that statins are not necessarily all they are cracked up to be. So I called his office and told him that I am NOT taking a statin. He then suggested WelChol. I do not know anything about this drug. I am considering telling him that I will be trying other options. I have heard that Turmeric and D3 are possible options. Any additional suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Linda,
      Thank you for sharing your story and for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to:
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Oh, I forgot to mention that I have never had a heart attack and the only health issues I have had are injuries. I have had plantar faciatus twice in my left foot and I injured my back and have had sciatica, also on the left side. I do have some arthritis in that same hip since my injury. The thing that makes me the maddest about this, is that my doctor did not call or write to discuss my options. He just wrote this prescription. And now I read in this article that women who have never had a heart attack should not take statins.

  • Dr. Hyman,
    I became my mothers primary caretaker last year. She just turned 90 and in good health. She has no heart disease, diabetes or any other significant health issues. Her weight / height ratio is in line. She has been taking Gemfibrozil for several years, and I question the need to continue a cholesterol lower medication for someone her age? After reading several articles, i don’t feel the risk / reward is worth the expense or side effects.

  • I was a healthy person in 2010, when I went to the ER with acute tachycardia brought on by stress of dealing with a crazy alcoholic husband. I left the hospital with 3 new drugs, metropolol, amlodipine and simvastatin. As the months went by, I developed pain in my legs that prevented me from going to the gym, walking my previous 9 miles a week and even walking in the hall way at work or lifting my legs into the car became unbearable. I left my husband and had a new life and felt good but the pain of walking became totally debilitating. I tried massage and ibuprophen and tylenol. Finally” I Googled “unexplained leg pain” and discovered the problems people were having with statins. I told my doctor I was stopping taking it.Of course my cholesterol went up to where it was before(214)- not high I thought. Now I have had new tests this year, and my ch is 243, but my HDL is 67. I am 71 years old and female.I have decided I am not taking any meds no matter what they say. The leg pain from statins took 2 years to be almost normal but I still have some muscle pain.Even rubbing my legs still hurts. I had tests I requested for inflammation and they were normal.all my numbers are within normal limits Vitamin D is good, creatinine is good, homocystine is good,. I do not feel I am at risk with my cholesterol at 243 and hdl at 67.I Since I stopped the statins, I am getting better and better but have never gone back to how I felt before I took them. Any suggestions would be appreciated and I hope this helps others

  • Can you reverse the increase in blood sugar/pre-diabetes that was possibly caused by a statin by going off the statin?

  • I was in great health at the age of 50 with the exception that I had high cholesterol. My doctor put me on SImvastatin while I was currently taking a drug that the Zocor label states do not mix. One month after starting the statin I was having chest pains, shortness of breath and nausea. She did a test for my CK level but said it was fine. I ended up in the ER a few months later with chest pains and they did an EKG and said I was fine. I gained 28 pounds in less then 3 months for no reason I was aware of. Five months after the statin the pharmacist told me I should not be mixing these drugs so I stopped the other and continued the statin. The next month I went to the doctor to complain of severe shoulder and hip pains and she said I was getting older. Then I developed trigger thumb and the pain spread to my legs, ankles and wrists. I decided to go online because something was definitely wrong with me. All of these symptoms were connected to simvastatin so I stopped taking it, Unfortunately it has been almost 2 years since I stopped it and I am still in horrible pain. I have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel. plantar fasciatis, fibromyalgia and CFS and am on FMLA from my job. No doctor will agree with me that this was caused by the statin, or the combination of contraindicated drugs. I guess I just fell apart 1 month after taking the statin by coincidence. Dr. Hyman, do you know of a doctor in the Midwest, preferably in WI that is experienced in statin intolerance? I am so frustrated. Thank you.

    • Hello Nancy,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work and for sharing your story. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Stff

  • I have extremely high triglycerides 868 and my cholesterol is 381. I am about 30 lbs over-weight and 44 yo. Diet does not get the triglycerides in control. Should I take Tricor for it, or is it just as bad?

    • Hi Heather,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. If you would like information on becoming a patient at The UltraWellness Center, please see “How to Become a Patient” at You may also feel free to call The UltraWellness Center at (413) 637-9991.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • My mother who has never had a heart was taking a statin for high cholesterol they had prescribed 80mg. which is way high anyway, I do not know how long she was taking them before she developed diabetes. Last year she started becoming very confused and forgetful so we took her off of them, she will 82 in June, and thanks to Obama (LOL) she had to change doctors this year, the new doctor wants to put her back on statins, I am not going to allow this, she does much better without them and at her age I don’t see much since in it. She has a-fib and takes Warfarin for that, which I would like to get her off to, but she does not eat enough greens to do that with diet. I enjoyed your article and will be getting the book about diabetes when it comes out to see if we can reverse it in my mother. Thank you for caring about people and not just the money end of things.

  • I was on a statin and when it got to the point where I couldn’t even lift my leg to walk, I stopped taking them and told my doctor to never prescribe them to me again. I now have added Red Yeast Rice, CoQ10 and Niacin to my daily supplements.

  • I`ve seen several studies that the results were that fish oil prevents primary and secondary heart attack better than statin drugs. Ben taking Lovaza for 15 years and no statins. Must work cause I`m still alive…

  • I have been on statins for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed at a young age – I think 14yrs old with high cholesterol. I am now 59 yrs. old. I was diagnosed with Diabetes type 2 in 2000. My sister who is also on statins has diabetes type 2 and my father who had many heart attacks and died at the age of 69, I believe was also on statins and also had diabetes type 2. I have had 2 stents put into 2 valves in my heart and I am still on statins. I currently live in Costa Rica, so some of these alternative herbs I won’t be able to get here. Not sure if I should stop taking the statins, I already have diabetes. I am very worried now after reading this article. My triglycerides are still a bit high, but the cholesterol readings seem to be pretty good – sorry, I don’t have the numbers. I am taking fish oil every day and I think that is helping.

  • I am 59 yrs old and was told by doctors that I had high cholesterol six yrs ago, it was 450 and they didn’t tell me what the good or bad levels were. I took Lipitor for two mo. and my whole body felt like I got hit by a train, and it took six mo for the pain to go away after I stopped taking it.. I’m 5’0 tall and weighed 220 lbs at that time. I lost weight down to 155, moved, got a new doc, and she was all alarmed my cholesterol was 250. So told her I lost so much weight, and she didn’t care and put me on pravastatin. A mo. later I quit taking it because I started having chest pains. She didn’t say anything about that at all, so I was glad I wasn’t having a heart attack as she ignored me. Now she wants me to take Crestor! P.S. She is always pushing what I call quack medicine on me all the time. One time she gave me Toradal for anxiety!! I swear! She wouldn’t give me pain pill, or a valium if I had a broken leg and was having a nervous break down. I would like to have a new PCP, I swear. What does it take to get a decent doctor in this country?

  • I meant Topamax.. she gave me that for my anxiety !! I’m no doctor but to me… she’s freaking crazy.. What did I ever do to her?! She’s like “oh the lipitor and the pravastatin almost killed you, so let’s go with Crestor!”

  • This is horrible. You really don’t know which is best for you. If you take the statins you have a chance of becoming diabetic and if you don’t take the statins to bring down your cholesterol number well you can block up your arteries and either suffer a stoke or heat attack. However I’ll take my chance the less of two evils and continue my statin therapy.

  • Statins are about the worst thing you can take. We need our cholesterol – it is a vital component tof every cell in the body. It controls so many hormones. We need it to utilise vitamin D. Trying to lower it is a medically induced fallacy. If you have “high” cholesterol it’s better to check your particle size, – small dense LDL particles are the risk and also high triglycerides, caused by eating too much sugar and starchy foods. The so called -“healthy diet” is putting lives at risk, eat healthy natural saturated fats, not those from chemically produced “vegetable” sources and eat less, much less carbohydrates. Your cholesterol levels change every day, almost hourly, stress can change them quite radically. To blame cholesterol for ill health is like blaming a fireman for the fire because he is at the scene. Cholesterol is a response to health problems, the underlying problem needs to be addressed not the cholesterol!!

  • I am female, 69 years old, and had a terrible episode with Lipitor eight years ago–muscle pain so bad it interfered with my ability to work, and episodes of having no idea what I was doing. I recently moved and signed up with the clinic of a medical school. When I went to see my new primary care doc, I expected a discussion about my cholesterol, but wow! I was bullied and threatened because I refuse to take statins. My total col. is 310, ldl is 249, and doctors agree it is hereditary, I’ve made all lifestyle changes possible. I was referred to a “lipid specialist” who continued the bullying at a higher intellectual level. Lots of scare tactics, for example I was shown little models meant to show my arteries getting more and more clogged until I get a heart attack, and I was given a “personalized” color graph indicating that a person couldn’t possibly have higher cholesterol than I do. I pretended I would take all the pills the dr. prescribed, but still I was concerned, and did some googling and found this site. Thanks to all the honest medical professionals and activist patients who get the news out that statins can completely destroy your life.

  • I am a 66 year old woman who had an early menopause (41) and have been on estradiol and progesterone with good results and have no intention of stopping my plant-based hrt. When I first tried Premarin and progestin my body did NOT like them.
    As to cholesterol: I have always had high total cholesterol, but a good ratio. My well-intentioned internist put me on a low dose statin as a precaution. My total went to LDL 88 HDL 101. I have osteoporosis and had to stop Fosomax on her insistence, as I had benn in it for 15 years. I had gone from osteoporotic to osteopenic on the meds. Since then, I have stopped statins and started a regime of high saturated fats from grass ted sources, and my NTX (bone resorption) scores are high. A recent bone scan showed no change, which is good. My HDL went to 111, which prompted my md to ask if I had upped my level of exercise. I told her I have been the sedentary of my life because of my back injury. I credit the high HDL to raw milk, Irish butter, European cheeses, and avoiding most american saturated fats (corn fed). She calls me her case history of one.
    I plan to continue this regimen.

  • I am 48 yrs blk female who has been taking Metformin 500 twice a day, Simvastatin 20m daily, and Niaspan 500mg daily since 2008. My lastlab work was Jan 2015, with my A1c being 5.9. It had been a 6.0 for the past 2 yrs. My Cholesterol was 185, HDL:56, LDL120. I am very activity, I exercise 6 day a week, which include cardio and strength training. ,I’ve had a heart stress test which I pass with flying colors. My blood pressure has been good within a range of 117/68 – 124/76. I’m 5’8” weighing 207lbs.
    My question is, do I really need both satins and should my Metformin be decreased or stopped?.

    • Hello Reta,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I’m 60, 5’6″, 128lbs and I thought I was in good health. I had all the normal tests, mammogram, colonoscopy and series of heart tests. Everything came back normal with no inflammation, no clogged arteries, etc. My bad cholesterol is 256 and my low is 68. I’ve never had a heart and I try to eat healthy. I’m a 24/7 caregiver for my parent and that has created a lot of stress and some inactivity. My doctor has been pushing me to get on statins and I have read your take and many others that say don’t do it if you’ve never had a heart attack.

    I don’t want to have a heart attack. I want to stay healthy and live a long life. I also don’t have the money to pay for these drugs. I don’t take any over the counter medicine, don’t drink and have never smoked. I do like an occasional piece of chocolate. I’m thinking of finding another doctor who has done his research on this and isn’t involved with the billion dollar profit of statins.

    • Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I was taking 40 mg of Zocor for approximately 20 years. I then found out that the FDA recommends that the maximum dose be lower than 40 mg. None of my doctors ever told me this. I had colonoscopy due to some gastrointestinal issues I was having and was told that the GI doctor thought that the high dose of Zocor had affected the lining of my colon. He advised me to stop taking the Zocor, which I did. I have almost cleared up my colon problems and when my Internal Medicine doctor recommended that I take a different statin I told him flatly no. Another benefit to stopping the Zocor is that my joints don’t feel as stiff and uncomfortable as they did. I often wonder just exactly what the total damage to my body from taking that dose for all those years has been to my body. My recommendation is that everyone refuse to take any kind of statin.