OK, I'm a pillhead, a bulwark of the vast international pharmaceutical conspiracy, er, industry. You got the pill? I got the ill. I take 3 kinds of pills for my Parkinson's Disease. Two of these I take every few hours. I also take a multi-vitamin, and a vitamin D supplement, and, what the heck, throw in some salmon-oil gels while you're at it. Even my dog takes a tranquilizer before a trip to the vet. It would be depressing, but I'm on a pill for that as well.
Still, when my wise old internist announced a year ago that he wanted to put me on something for my high level of "bad" cholesterol, I balked. He gravely showed me the lab report numbers that said "HEART ATTACK COMING" But the thought of more pills, pills, pills was just too much. He reluctantly agreed to let me try to cope with the problem by modifying my diet.
A year passed. Leaves turned to gold and fluttered to the ground, snow fell only to be pierced by the green shoots of Spring. Birds returned with their raucous calls, as buds swelled and then burst into leafy glory etc... etc... and with the same majestic inevitability, my bad cholesterol numbers got worse.
So I went back to my wise old Internist. While waiting for him in the examining room, I dimly remembered some controversy about Parkinson's and statins, the commonly prescribed remedy for evil cholesterol. I whipped out my cell phone and googled "statins" and "Parkinson's Disease" and was rewarded by the following: Statins+PD=BAD. But, what's this? I also got Specific Statin+PD= good.
The first article, from Science Daily in January, 2007 warns
"Researchers are sufficiently worried by new study results that they are planning clinical trials involving thousands of people to examine the possible link between Parkinson's disease and statins, the world biggest selling drugs, reports Patrick Walter in Chemistry & Industry."
While the second, from a July 2007 edition of the same online publication, heralds one particular statin as a significant hindrance to both Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's!
ScienceDaily (July 19, 2007) — Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that the statin, simvastatin, reduces the incidence of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease by almost 50 percent. This is the first study to suggest that statins might reduce the incidence of Parkinson's disease.
For a brief moment I became more concerned about schizophrenia in science than the question of whether or not I should begin statins. I informed my wise old Internist of my findings, and he asked me where I came down on the issue, and what I wanted to do. Really what I wanted was for him to stop treating me like an intelligent adult and tell me what I wanted to do. After all, he is the one with a medical degree, and all I have is a smart phone. But this is the day of the empowered patient, and my responsibility to be the master of my fate and the captain of my pills was clear.
I opted for the simvastatin. I don't know if it helps with PD. I'm just hoping that if it actually prevents heart attacks, I'll live long enough to find out.
Post script: Here with an unusually well-informed view on the above question is a reply that appeared as an anonymous response the comments section. I am posting it here for people who do not read the comments. Thanks, anonymous,
I would have a DNA profiling done prior to taking a statin to make certain I do not possess either of the 2 SNPs discovered in the SLCO1B1 gene which encodes a transport protein responsible for moving statins into the liver for detoxification for elimnation. Some individuals with these SNPs have been found to have greatly increased plasma statin levels, toxic levels, in my opinion. Incredibly high levels of a fat soluble statin does not make for a healthy individual. Imagine severely depleted coQ10 production; severely depressed production of selnoproteins and thus glutathione reductase; severely impaired glycoprotein function; depressed cholesterol levels-how will neuronal and myelin cholesterol levels be maintained; depleted dolichol within the melanin of the substantia nigra (and what is the significance of this event?).Mutations in this gene are not rare, though many individuals develop such severe myopathies or myalgias that they stop the drug. I think for those who do not suffer the muscle myopathy problems,neurodegeneration may occur. my 2 cents worth of personal opinion