A Pox on Cholesterol Lowering Drugs: Statins Raise Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Risk

A Pox on Cholesterol Lowering Drugs: Statins Raise Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Risk

A new study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases titled, "Statins and the risk of herpes zoster: a population-based cohort study,"[i] reveals a hitherto unknown association between statin drug use and increased risk of herpes zoster (shingles).

Researchers from St. Michael's Hospital, Ontario, Canada, conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study of Ontario residents 66 years of age or older, with a study period of thirteen years.  They matched 494,651 individuals treated with a statin to an equal number of individuals not treated with one. Their results were reported as follows:

"In the main analysis, the rate of herpes zoster was higher among users of statins relative to nonusers of these drugs (13.25 versus 11.71 per 1000 person-years, respectively; hazard ratio 1.13, 95% confidence interval 1.10 to 1.17). The attributable fraction of exposed individuals was 11.6%. In a prespecified analysis, we found a similar risk of herpes zoster among statin users in the subgroup of patients with diabetes (hazard ratio 1.18, 95% confidence interval 1.09 to 1.27). As expected, we found no association between statin use and knee arthroplasty (hazard ratio 1.04, 95% confidence interval 0.99 to 1.09). Conclusions. Among older patients, treatment with statins is associated with a small but significantly increased risk of herpes zoster." [emphasis added]

While a 13% increase in the relative risk of developing shingles in statin users may seem small, it may reveal something concerning not on the radar of most clinicians, nor their patients, namely, the potent immunosuppressive and/or immunotoxic properties of statin drugs.

It has been long known that statin drugs have a multitude of physiological effects beyond their much-touted 'cholesterol-lowering' properties; these so-called 'pleomorphic' properties include 'anti-inflammatory' and 'immune system modulating' effects.  However, far from therapeutic, many of these side effects are disease-promoting, with the biomedical literature teeming with evidence that this class of drugs has over 300 adverse health effects, many of which are life-threatening, including – ironically, cardiotoxicity or damage to the arteries and heart muscle.

As is the case with many patented xenobiotic chemicals that have received FDA drug approval and are recklessly foisted upon the public in order to aid drug manufacturers in making astronomical profit, many of the drugs have adverse physiological effects that are marketed to the consumer/patient as 'therapeutic' effects, e.g. the side effect of 'drowsiness' is marketed as a sleep aid, or an immune destroying agent as a drug for autoimmune diseases.

An example of a statin side effect marketed as a 'beneficial effect' is the way in which these chemicals are believed to down-regulate inflammation and/or destructive immune responses within damaged arteries.  Atherosclerosis – the progressive narrowing of the arteries – has an autoimmune component whereby the immune system in response to persistent injury from environmental exposures such as smoking, infection or eating oxidized polyunsaturated fats, snowballs out of control.

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