Statin Use and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis—ALS

ALS ranks up there as one of the worst illnesses.  Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a rapidly progressing neurological disease where nerve cells in the muscles are attacked.  This leads to progressive weakness and disability.  Eventually, a patient with ALS will be unable to move his/her arms and legs and, in later stages, the breathing muscles are affected.   Death usually occurs from two to five years after the diagnosis.

As a physician, I hate seeing an ALS patient.  Seeing a patient with ALS makes me angry and upset.    There are no known effective treatments for this condition.  Over the last few decades, ALS is occurring more frequently and in younger patients.

A Canadian article about ALS states, “{Physicians are} uncovering surprising links between ALS and other diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and frontotemporal dementia, which were once thought to be completely unrelated… (1)

What could be the link between the increasingly common diagnoses of ALS, Parkinson’s and Dementia?

Statin drugs. The Statin Disaster David Brownstein Best Price: $24.83 (as of 06:30 UTC - Details)

As I wrote in my book,  The Statin Disaster, statin use has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. I also wrote about the increased risk in ALS with statin use.

A new 2018 article in Drug Safety (2) looked at the diagnosis of ALS for each statin drug being used.  The authors relied on the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) data to compare the relationship between statins and ALS.  The scientists found statin drugs were associated with a 9-107-fold increase in ALS diagnosis, depending on the type of statin drug.  For example, Crestor had a 9-fold increase, Lipitor a 17-fold increase, Zocor a 23-fold increase, and Mevacor a 107-fold increase.

The authors concluded, “These findings extend previous evidence showing that significantly elevated ALS reporting extends to individual statin agents and add to concerns about potential elevated occurrence of ALS-like conditions in associated with statin usage.” (2)

Folks, I am rarely stunned by a research article, but this one shook me.  Although an association does not equal causation, the association of statins with ALS as shown above is greater than the association that cigarettes increase the  risk of lung cancer.  Remember, there has never been a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showing cigarettes cause lung cancer.  However, we know it to be true because the association is so strong.

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