Cholesterol Drugs Linked To Eye Damage, JAMA Study Confirms Anew
A new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology titled, “Association of Statin Use With Cataracts: A Propensity Score-Matched Analysis,” reveals that the top-grossing, cholesterol-lowering drug class known as statins is significantly increasing the risk of cataracts within exposed populations.
Statin-induced eye damage will be a surprising finding to some, especially to statin drug advocates who have argued that the purported ‘antioxidant’ effects of statins ‘may slow the natural aging process of the lens.’ This latter, strictly theoretical benefit is increasingly being disproved by the biomedical literature. In fact, last year, we reported in an article titled, “Blind To The Truth: The Eye-Damaging Effects of Statins,” on findings published in Optometry and Vision Science, revealing that statin drugs users have a 48% higher risk of pathological eye lens changes commonly associated with cataract formation.
Researchers at San Antonio Military Medical Center, San Antonio Texas, compared the risks for development of cataracts between statin users and nonusers, using a military health care system database. The study design was described as follows:
Based on medication fills during fiscal year 2005, patients were divided into 2 groups: (1) statin users (received at least a 90-day supply of statin) and (2) nonusers (never received a statin throughout the study). Among 46 249 patients meeting study criteria, we identified 13 626 statin users and 32 623 nonusers.
For our primary analysis, we matched 6972 pairs of statin users and nonusers. The risk for cataract was higher among statin users in comparison with nonusers in the propensity score-matched cohort (odds ratio, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.02-1.17). In secondary analyses, after adjusting for identified confounders, the incidence of cataract was higher in statin users in comparison with nonusers (odds ratio, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.15-1.40). Sensitivity analysis confirmed this relationship.
In other words, the risk for cataract was between 9% and 27% higher in statin users, leading the study authors to conclude: “The risk for cataract is increased among statin users as compared with nonusers. The risk-benefit ratio of statin use, specifically for primary prevention, should be carefully weighed, and further studies are warranted.”
What is important to point out is that the human eye is an extension of the nervous system, which is the second most lipid- and cholesterol-concentrated tissue type next to adipose tissue in the human body. The lenses of mammals, but particularly the human lens, is extremely stable due in part to its cholesterol content. Amazingly, this is why the only reported lipid remaining in a frozen mammoth 40,000 years after its death was from its lens membranes. Therefore, given the crucial role that cholesterol plays as a structural and functional biomolecule within the eye, is it any wonder that cholesterol-inhibiting drugs adversely affect them?
Also, considering that statin drugs bear a wide range of additional health risks, with over 300 known adverse effects associated with their use extensively documented in the biomedical literature [see ourStatin Drug database], the reported cardiovascular benefits of this drug class may not be significant enough any longer to justify their use. To the contrary, the research increasingly indicates that statin drugs are both muscle-damaging (myotoxic) and nerve-damaging (neurotoxic) – a concerningheart-damaging (cardiotoxic) combination, as the heart muscle is a highly nerve-dense muscle.
At the very least, patients need to be adequately informed of their risks in order for the medico-ethical principle of informed consent to even be possible. Failing that, the drug-based default approach in using statin drugs for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease violates the most basic ethical and likely legal rights of their patients.
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There already exists an extensive body of preclinical and even some clinical research on natural cholesterol-lowering substances. We have spent years indexing this research in order to make it freely available on our natural research database. You can view that research here [Cholesterol-Lowering Substances].
Please be aware that by providing access to information we are not providing medical advice. It is very important for the health consumer to understand, as well, that when combining natural interventions with drugs you risk profound, even deadly interactions. It is advisable, therefore, to search out the help of a licensed health professional, preferably with an integrative medical background to assist you with your health problems.
For additional research, please feel free to visit (or share with your health practitioner) our research page: Health Guide: Statin Drugs.
For health care practitioners, consider using our Professional Database Features, to greatly enhance your ability to retrieve, comprehend and disseminate the biomedical information on our multiple databases.
Sayer Ji is an author, researcher, lecturer, and advisory board member of the National Health Federation. He founded Greenmedinfo.com in 2008 in order to provide the world an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities. It is widely recognized as the most widely referenced health resource of its kind.