As if statins need any additional problems to add to their ever-growing list of harmful side effects, a recent study found that these cholesterol-lowering medications can actually decrease the benefits of exercise. So if you’re taking statins and exercising in an effort to get/stay healthy, you may be wasting your time.
One of the many benefits of exercise is an increase in the activity and numbers of mitochondria, the little “power plants” inside cells that metabolize sugars and fat. The mitochondria changes take place in the muscles to help meet the new demand.
This study found that when statins are taken, mitochondrial activity doesn’t increase with exercise, but actually falls. In this study, researchers followed 37 adults who trained aerobically for 12 weeks. Half of the participants were on the statin Zocor and the other half weren’t. The chemical markers that indicate mitochondrial activity fell by 4.5 percent in those taking the statin and increased an average of 10 percent in those not taking the drug.
This has implications for brain health, too. Exercise also increases the formation of additional mitochondria in the brain. When you start to decrease mitochondria biogenesis in the brain, you’re setting yourself up for various central nervous system diseases and age-related dementia.