Cancer, coenzyme Q10, myopathy, dementia and statins

Cancer, coenzyme Q10, myopathy, dementia and statins

As more and more people take statins for cancer, it should be remembered that these are drugs not sweets and have proven side-effects. People should also not believe they can self-medicate with drugs; it can be counter-productive and dangerous.

A true story from a personal experience

The very nice gentleman who rented my beach condo 2 months before, introduced his wife to me in the shopping mall. It quickly became apparent that this 60 year old lady had dementia and I hadn’t seen this at our first meeting. My father suffered from Parkinson’s, dementia and Alzheimer’s so I know a bit about it all. Also, I have written many articles for ChriswoollamsHealthwatch from multiple 'latest research' studies.

I asked about the dementia. The lady in question had had a small stroke two years before, but all had been well until just a couple of months ago. From then it was a rapid decline. They had visited a top local hospital where she had received a number of drugs. One of these was a statin, yet this woman was slight and her cholesterol was under 5.

Statins, Coenzyme Q10 and myopathy and dementia

The Mayo Clinic Website states that statins reduce naturally occurring CoQ10 levels in the body (1). Statins are also proven to interfere with the production of mevalonic acid, a precursor to CoQ10. A meta-analysis was very clear on this concluding that statins caused a 'significant reduction' in CoQ10 levels in the body (9). There is research that lipophilic statin use can cause myopathy (weakened muscles) and this can be corrected by CoQ10 supplementation (12). And there is Japanese research (Yamagishi et al) showing that low serum levels of CoQ10 increase the risk of dementia (10).

I offered that I had read several studies recently on how supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 (which declines anyway as people pass 50 years of age) along with curcumin, had shown strong protective effects, as had high dose resveratrol on reversing early stages of dementia (2). In fact, CoQ10 helps resveratrol work better in this prevention. 

Coenzyme Q10 and cancer

Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant, but importantly is essential for efficient mitochondrial action. Mitochondria are the power stations in every cell of your body, and you get more mitochondria in tissues that need to do more work, like muscles, heart and brain. Mitochondria are also important in ‘What goes wrong’ in cancer. In almost all patients with cancer, there is a lowered serum level of CoQ10, and that can cause more progression. A study on this was done with breast cancer (11) and showed that women with low CoQ10 had more 'advacement'.

Curcumin seems to have the ability to stop proteins sticking to each other and getting the wires crossed in your brain - key factors with diseases such as Alzheimer's. A 2018 Study, showed that taking just half a teaspoon of curcumin a day improved cognitive function in people who had not yet developed Alzheimer's (8).

The good news about CoQ10 is that research shows you can supplement with about 30-50 mg per day and restore your body levels to those you had in your late 20’s; (any more is a waste of money and has no further effect).

As we chatted more, I suggested simply that my renter might read up on these natural compounds and think about supplementation. CoQ10 takes about three months before it has a full effect, so you should start taking it BEFORE you take a statin.

We recommend everyone who is going to take a statin - for whatever reason - takes Coenzyme Q10 starting at least 2 weeks before. We agree with the Mayo Clinic.

You need cholesterol

Cholesterol is essential for the correct functioning of membranes and for making hormones. Importantly, vitamin D is made from the cholesterol below your skin by the action of sunlight. 

In cancer, we know that ‘fat’ spreads cancer, people with the highest levels of blood fats get more metastasis, and new cancer cells need lots of cholesterol for all those new membranes etc.

We know that lipophilic statins (which unlike hydrophilic statins, cross membranes into the tissues) can increase survival times by several years (3).

We also know that they may reduce angiogenesis and restrict cancer cell migration.

But we know for a fact that: 

* Statins increase blood sugar and type-2 diabetes risk (4).

* Statins prevent synthesis of K2 which prevents plaque formation resulting in more atherosclerosis and heart disease (5).

* Statins cut CoQ10 levels and speed up risk of Myopathy (12), and Dementia (6). 

Polypharmacy and cancer

In my Sunday Show with Professor Robert Thomas of Addenbrooke's, Cambridge, we were talking about how many people coming to us with cancer had been on six, eight, ten or more drugs for a variety of illnesses. Most related to Metabolic Syndrome (7). You have this if you have three out of these five issues - high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high BMI, low good cholesterol. As a result people are given cocktails of drugs.

In the New York Presbyterian hospital this condition (becoming ill through taking a cocktail of drugs) accounted for 28 per cent of hospital A&E visits one Saturday night! The condition now has a name – POLYPHARMACY. Deaths have trebled in seven years simply from people who already take eight or more drugs, catching a cold, and popping down the pharmacy to be given three more!

Drugs interact. They can damage you.

And this worries me, not just because we see so many cancer patients on blood thinners, thyroid hormones, anti-depression pills; but then they are given FEC-T or FOLFOX, plus Dexamethasone, an anti-sickness pill, something to help them sleep etc. etc. etc. And then the patient wants to take 4 off-label drugs.

Many people are now even trying to self-medicate because they think they can ‘Block pathways’. I have had two patients in recent weeks, taking their husband's prescribed statin because they read it was a good idea!

But, for example, lipophilic statins like Atorvastatin affect your liver function, as may drugs like Metformin. Statins affect enzymes called aminotransferases, and the NHS states clearly that people should not take statins if their liver is not functioning fully, or they have an impaired liver. This could easily be the case in many cancer patients, for example, or older patients on a cocktail of drugs.

It can also be particularly true in patients having simultaneous Ipilimumab and Nivolumab.

How many people first check their cholesterol level; how many people on statins regularly have their liver function checked?

Our 60 year-old lady at the outset of this story went downhill in just 2 months!

I fear this isn’t science, or good medical practice. It's too haphazard and it is potentially, very dangerous.

There is clear research that statins can increase cancer survival times, but for some people they are definitely a double edged sword. Australian research suggested that, on average, women with breast cancer, melanoma or colorectal cancer gained 4 years more survival. But why would the time be only 4 years. The cancer does not develop resistance to a statin. The statin is attacking blood fats. Could it be that the lowered CoQ10 caused by the statin after several years causes the advacement?

Go to a Doctor if you are thinking of taking a lipophilic statin. And even then, be careful.

Go to: Can statins increase cancer survival?


  1. Mayo Clinic - Can CoQ10 prevent statin side effects?

  2. High dose Resveratrol may stabilise mild to moderate Alzheimer’s

  3. Lipophilic statins can increase survival

  4. Statins increase blood sugar and Type-2 Diabetes risk

  5. Statins prevent synthesis of K2 which prevents plaque formation resulting in more atherosclerosis and heart disease

  6. Statins cut CoQ10 levels and speed up risk of Dementia

  7. Metabolic Syndrome

  8. Taking Curcumin improves cognitive function

  9. Meta-analysis - statins lower CoQ10 -

  10. Serum coenzyme Q10 and risk of disabling dementia: the Circulatory Risk in Communities Study (CIRCS);

  11. Joliet P et al., Plasma Coenzyme Q10 Concentrations in Breast Cancer;
    Prognosis and Therapeutic Consequences, Int J Clin Pharmacol 1998.

  12. Effects of Coenzyme Q10 on Statin-Induced Myopathy: An Updated Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials; Journal

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