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Cholesterol-lowering agents in the statin drug class have long been linked with erectile dysfunction and low testosterone -- effects that compromise more than just a man's general sense of well-being and physical health, but his ego as well.
Now, a new study on statins and male fertility has found for the first time that this cholesterol-lowering class of drugs may be causing significant and lasting damage to men's testicles and sperm, and by implication, possibly the health of future generations.
The new study published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology titled, "Evaluation of atorvastatin efficacy and toxicity on spermatozoa, accessory glands and gonadal hormones of healthy men: a pilot prospective clinical trial," evaluated the effects of 10 mg daily of Lipitor (atorvastatin), daily, for 5 months, in 17 normal men with normal plasma lipid and standard semen parameters.
Sperm health parameters, accessory gland markers, semen lipid levels and blood levels of testicular hormones were evaluated before Lipitor intake, during the treatment, and 3 months after its withdrawal.
The alarming results were reported as follows:
- "Atorvastatin treatment significantly decreased circulating low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and total cholesterol concentrations by 42% and 24% (p < 0.0001) respectively, and reached the efficacy objective of the protocol."
- "During atorvastatin therapy and/or 3 months after its withdrawal numerous semen parameters were significantly modified, such as total number of spermatozoa (-31%, p < 0.05), vitality (-9.5%, p < 0.05), total motility (+7.5%, p < 0.05), morphology (head, neck and midpiece abnormalities, p < 0.05), and the kinetics of acrosome reaction (p < 0.05). Seminal concentrations of acid phosphatases (p < 0.01), alpha-glucosidase (p < 0.05) and L-carnitine (p < 0.05) were also decreased during the therapy, indicating an alteration of prostatic and epididymal functions."
- "Moreover, we measured at least one altered semen parameter in 35% of the subjects during atorvastatin treatment, and in 65% of the subjects after withdrawal, which led us to consider that atorvastatin is unsafe in the context of our study."
"Our results show for the first time that atorvastatin [trade name Lipitor] significantly affects the sperm parameters and the seminal fluid composition of healthy men."
Why Are We Taking Statin Drugs If They Harm The Heart?
Statin drugs are purported to have cardioprotective properties because they reduce the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – colloquially known as, and falsely equated with, 'cholesterol' (there are actually hundreds of lipid species in the human liposome) - despite the fact the drug class itself has been found to be cardiotoxic to the heart muscle in several ways:
- Statins may contribute to calcifying the coronary arteries
- Statins may weaken the heart muscle
- Statins my disrupt vascular function
On the Greenmedinfo.com Statin Research database we have cataloged over 15 studies from the National Library of Medicine indicating the heart-damaging properties of this class of supposedly 'heart friendly' drugs. View our professional data page here, or if you are not a member, view the open access reference page for public view and linking here.
Statins do not only reduce lipoprotein production but have so-called pleoitropic properties, which include immune system down-regulating and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why they are believed to have a small benefit in reducing the inflammatory burden caused by autoimmune processes in the artery that can precipitate myocardial infarction (heart attack) in some individuals -- but not without having the unintended, adverse effect of increasing cancer risk (at all sites) and contributing to congestive heart failure, effectively cancelling out the small, mostly theoretical benefit of reduced heart attack risk. For instance, it has been estimated that "...at least 23,000 low-risk people would have to take statins for five years to prevent one death from heart disease." [Source]
Statins are also clearly diabetogenic, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 50% in some populations, with the FDA now requiring drug manufacturers to include a warning of diabetes risk on statin drug labels. Considering morbidity and mortality from type 2 diabetes is caused not by the elevated blood sugar in and of itself, but the damage glycated sugar does to the vascular system and the subsequent cardiovascular harm it produces, the case against using statins for primary and secondary prevention of heart disease seems clear as day.
Moreover, cardiovascular harm is not the only concern. Statin drugs have been linked to over 300 adverse health effects. We issued a consumer alert on the topic several years ago. For the more technically minded, here is the database page on Statin drugs listing 300+ adverse health effects based on 465 published studies.
Heart Disease Is Not Caused By A Lack of A Drug
Should we be surprised to find so much research on this drug class's adverse health effects? After all, cholesterol is fundamental for the health of each cell in the human body, and low cholesterol has been found to cause a wide range of health problems, including psychiatric states such as violence against self and other. The food and drug industries have used cholesterol phobia to manipulate health professionals and the lay public into believing that the cause of heart disease is genetic, and can only be addressed through the use of synthetic, patented, essentially toxic chemicals, i.e. pharmaceuticals, or eating semi-synthetic 'low fat,' 'low cholesterol' foods with very little nutritional value.
This latest study speaks to why we must exercise the precautionary principle when considering taking a patented chemical – technically a xenobiotic alien to human physiology – for suppressing a symptom of a much deeper and more complex problem. While oxidized cholesterol forms a significant part of the problem of atherosclerotic build-up in the arteries, it is not the primary cause of the damage to the inner lining of the arteries (endothelium), and the pre-existing endothelial dysfunction that can go on for many decades silently in the background. Ox-LDL deposits in atheromatous lesions have been viewed as an epiphenomenon, generated as part of a cascade of immune-mediated events the body activates in order to attempt to heal arterial damage. In certain respects, cholesterol deposits in the arteries at the site of damage can be likened to a Band-Aid. Do we blame the Band-Aid for causing the injury upon which it is placed?
It is important to point out that oxidized cholesterol (ox-LDL) can be toxic and harmful to the vascular system, but the problem with modern blood testing for 'cholesterol' is that it does not take into the quality of the lipoproteins, only their quantitative dimensions. Depending on one's diet, environmental factors, and overall bodily health, LDL particles will oxidize at different rates. If you are eating an antioxidant rich diet, full of healthy fats, phytocompounds, etc., your properly functioning LDL will be less susceptible to conversion to ox-LDL. On the other hand, eating a diet full of non-essential, oxidized fats, deficient in phytonutrients, antioxidants, etc. – and adding in environmental toxins and toxicants, e.g. smoking – will produce more ox-LDL, rendering it artherogenic. Obviously, therefore, diet and lifestyle form the basis for a sound preventive approach if the 'lipid hypothesis' of cardiovascular disease is even deemed truly relevant. [For more research on natural substances which inhibit cholesterol oxidation, view our database on the topic: Prevent Cholesterol Oxidation.]
Furthermore, there are many ways to address underlying vascular pathologies without suppressing the production of a vital building block and signaling molecule, which is what cholesterol is. Pomegranate, chocolate, and many other natural substances, have been confirmed in research to have profound heart disease preventive and reversing properties. You can explore our database sections relevant to the topic within our Heart Health guide, to find hundreds of studies proving this point. Basic nutritional incompatibilities, including the consumption of wheat which has cardiotoxic properties in genetically susceptible individuals, and excessive consumption of omega-6 versus omega-3 fats can profoundly increase the risk of heart disease. One groundbreaking study published last year, in fact, indicates that statins actually reduce the health benefits of omega-3 fats in the diet – adding another mechanism by which statin drugs exert heart disease promoting effects.
Beyond the Pharmaceutically-Driven Medical Paradigm
If statin drugs are toxic to human sperm, and if the men within whom this statin-induced damage is occurring are of reproductive age, the implications of this latest study on statins and fertility are potentially devastating to the health of future generations. Changes in our species germlines – sperm or egg – are carried on to future generations, possibly forever. With recent research indicating that even changes to somatic cells in this lifetime are capable of transferring information to the sperm, what we do here and now – our chemical exposures, our nutritional status, and even our psychospiritual and mental orientation (which gear into real physiological and genetic/epigenetic processes – can have critical and irreversible affects on our offspring.
Clearly, the time has come both to re-evaluate the role of pharmaceuticals in 'preventive' health care, as well as the effects these novel new chemical compounds will have on the next generation, and the next.
For alternatives to lipid lowering chemicals, take a look at the following, evidence-based natural interventions: