The Harm of Statins and the Right Diet for Cancer Prevention

The Harm of Statins

Our first question comes from Dorothy. Dorothy has successfully completed the Eat Fat, Get Thin program and now all of her labs are normal, but her new physician wants her to get back on statins which Dorothy doesn’t want to do. She asks, “What can I say to my physician to keep her from dismissing me as a patient?

This is a great question. As a diabetic, Dorothy was able to get off of all of her medications and her blood work is finally normal; yet, her doctor still wants her to be on a statin. In this situation, I would consider dismissing her doctor.   And here’s why…

We used to think that there were very few side effects associated with this drug. The truth is, up to 20 percent of statin users have experienced serious side effects like muscle aches, pains and damage, as well as elevated levels of muscle enzymes. Statins can also poison your mitochondria, which are your cells’ energy-producing factories and the single most important factor in healthy aging and wellness. Statins can hinder the mitochondria’s ability to produce energy effectively and can even kill cells off completely. Statins can even cause diabetes!

I believe that within five years, or sooner, we’re going to see a backlash against statins because of all of the side effects. You have to treat fifty people with statins to prevent one heart attack, or treat 890 people to prevent one death. It’s just not a very effective drug.

If you don’t have a chronic disease or really bad lipids and you haven’t had a heart attack, then statins don’t really work that well. In fact, they cause more harm than good.

I encourage Dorothy to not go back on statins and consider going to a Functional Medicine doctor who can provide the right tests and get her on the right personalized plan for optimum health. Be your own advocate. Remember: Your doctors work for you, not the other way around!

Now, let’s touch base on another confusing topic for most patients:  cholesterol test results.  There is more to these numbers than meets the eye, and  if you’re interested in optimizing your cholesterol, check out my previous blog on this topic.

High Fat Diets and Cancer

Our next question comes from Cathy who says, “A lower fat diet has always been recommended to reduce risk for breast cancer. Do you feel this is incorrect?

Let’s start with this: The major cause of cancer is sugar, not fat. Things like obesity, prediabetes and insulin resistance cause cancer, not fat. In fact, at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, we are doing research on the benefits of a high-fat diet for prostate cancer prevention and treatment. The right fats, such as omega-3 fats, can actually protect you from cancer, but the first step to prevention is getting off of sugar.

Sugar feeds cancer and creates diabesity. The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar a year and about 146 pounds of flour a year (and don’t forget – flour basically turns to sugar once it is in your body). Diabesity affects over 1.7 billion people worldwide. Scientists conservatively estimate it will affect one in two Americans by 2020; 90 percent of whom will not be diagnosed. The two things you can do to prevent or control cancer are:

  • control insulin levels with a high-fiber diet rich in real, fresh, whole foods
  • minimize or eliminate sugary, processed, insulin-raising foods

I also recommend checking out Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which talks about the effects of ketogenic diets on cancer. A ketogenic diet means that 70 to 80 percent of your diet comes from fat. The key is to eat the right fats, which include things like avocados, nuts and seeds, grass-fed meat, wild fatty fish, and coconut and olive oils. Stay away from bad fats like vegetable oils, trans fats and processed foods.

And above all, do not eat sugar. Doctors tell cancer patients to eat whatever they want as long as they keep their weight up and this is terrible advice. Food is information; it’s not just calories. So you have to put the right information into your body. For more information on strategies to prevent and treat cancer, check out this blog.

Now I want to hear from you! Are you taking a statin Or have you gotten off your statins and met with resistance from your primary care physician?  Do you have any experience with good quality high-fat diets? Post your comments on my Facebook page. If you liked this video be sure to share it with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter, and send your video submissions to [email protected] and maybe next week I’ll make a House Call to you.

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD


Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.


If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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