“My doctor says my hormones are so low and he said I should be on these synthetic hormones,” a woman tells me after a recent seminar. It’s not the first time. In fact, I hear it often. So, I ask, “Are you taking a statin or cholesterol altering medication.” She said, “yes.” I’m going to tell you what I told her, the several other women that came up to me that day with the same statement and what I told the thousands of other women throughout the years- if you are taking a statin drug you can never achieve hormonal balance.
Over 25% of American adults over the age of 40 have taken a statin drug in the past 30 days. (1) So, it happens all the time! I hear from women who are getting advised to do something that is totally detrimental to another piece of their health. The worst thing you can possibly do for your own health is to be dependent on someone else for information or just take someone’s advice because they are an expert. We don’t do that here at The Wellness Way Clinics. You can cross reference everything and find the answers for yourself. I’m going to get you started with some important information.
First off let’s talk about steroid hormones and their building blocks. So, to understand how statins mess up hormonal balance you need to understand what steroid hormones are and how they are made.
Hormones are messengers. That’s what they do. Steroid hormones are a group of chemical messaging compounds produced by male and female sex organs (gonads), the adrenal glands and the kidneys (mineralocorticoid).
Hormones are important and interconnected to your whole body. Hormones involve multiple organs. A lot of steroid hormones are produced in one organ but then go to another and are converted in that organ for function. We will learn a little more about that later in the steroid pathway chart.
Every organ needs messages. There are lots of hormones bringing messages throughout your body helping it function. Steroid hormones impact lots of your body’s functions like blood pressure, bone density, and your kidneys. It’s not just about your cycle or those erections.
If the message is messed up there is going to be hormonal imbalances. For example, take a hormone like estradiol – if the message delivered is too high it can develop into cancer, or too low can lead to depression or early menopause. The tissue will listen if it gets the message, but it doesn’t mean it’s the right message for that individual.
All of our organs are controlled by messengers and the messengers can affect multiple organs. Medicine in its classification separates everything. We have heart specialists, neurologists, kidney specialists, GI. Specialists, – don’t realize messengers can affect all those organs.
So, you can see how important hormones are to the overall balance of the body or homeostasis. You don’t want to mess with them.
What does your body need to make hormones?
The building blocks of steroid hormones (and a lot of other important cells) is cholesterol. Your body needs cholesterol along with some amino acids to make steroid hormones.
All steroid hormones are derived from cholesterol -let’s be clear not all hormones but all steroid hormones. Sex hormones, adrenal hormones and kidney hormones all need cholesterol.
As you can see in the chart all these hormones start as cholesterol, and then become the hormones needed for a wide variety of functions.
Cholesterol is a derivative. It’s not bad for you. It’s a building block for every steroid hormone in the body. You don’t want a goal of no cholesterol. No cholesterol- guess what you will have depleted hormones.
Why is my cholesterol high?
That is the magic question. Your body will make cholesterol when you’re under stress. So, it needs cholesterol to repair itself or when it needs more hormones. If I cut my finger and start bleeding, then my body is going to make more cholesterol to repair the wound.
If you are a woman and your adrenals get fatigued because of stress as hormones get low your cholesterol will go up. It’s your body responding by creating what it needs to heal itself.
Cholesterol is not a bad guy that’s intruding in your body. It’s not because you are eating too much cholesterol. Trust me, you can’t eat enough cholesterol to make it go psychotically high. Let me say that again- You can’t eat so much cholesterol that it will go up significantly. If your cholesterol goes up there is a physical reason why. Only 10-20% of the cholesterol in your body is associated to diet and exercise. 80+% is made by the liver. Multiple studies have shown that dietary cholesterol does not increase coronary artery disease. (2) (3) (4) That’s why researchers are calling for guidelines to be reconsidered. (5) Cholesterol is high because the body is under stress or there is some major hormonal deficiency.
So, the question is ….what stress or hormonal deficiency is causing your body to create more cholesterol? I’m not going to drop it down with red yeast rice or statin drugs. That’s a medical way of thinking. I’m going to look into why it is high. It can be different based on the individual and very different based on gender.
But my doctor says…
I don’t care what they said! Don’t govern your health care choices by fear. If you want to have some fear look at the side effects of the drugs. It says right on the box that the side effects are low hormones, renal disease, depression, impotence and more.
Studies show that statins lower testosterone. (6) If you lower cholesterol, you lower testosterone which increases impotence. So, statins can cause drug induced impotence. (7) Don’t worry the drug company that makes one of the top-selling statin, Lipitor, also makes Viagra. If they make a problem they have another drug to fix it. That’s big money-making in the billions.
Even though it seems like common sense, we can see in studies and anecdotal evidence that lowering cholesterol negatively impacts steroid hormones.
“My doctor says my hormones are low because of my age.” I hear that one a lot too.
We see it at The Wellness Way Clinics across the country, women who come in because of low hormones and that’s because they are on statins. When they do the right things, get off statin drugs and synthetic hormones, they can maintain hormonal balance. That’s when I say to them, “good thing you got younger your hormones are balanced!” They look at me like I’m nuts and let me know they are actually older. That’s right because age doesn’t have anything to do with it.
You can maintain a normal hormone balance from the day you are born to the day you die. The problem is, nobody is teaching anyone how to keep hormones normal and then they are giving you statin drugs.
Something to think about for hormonal balance
Statin drugs are not just cholesterol lowering drugs, statin drugs manipulate the function of your liver’s ability to make cholesterol. Cholesterol is needed to make numerous cells including steroid hormones that help your organs regulate functions like blood pressure, reproductive characteristics, metabolism, immune system, and blood sugar.
Hormones also control if you have a beard or not. It’s funny until you are the lady with the beard.
Statins are a big farce as well as a big money maker for drug companies. While the use of statins has gone up the percentage of Americans with high cholesterol has gone down from 18.3% in 1999-2000 to 11% in 2013-2014. (8) So why do we see rising heart disease and not lower? Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States for both men and women. (9) Notice hormone concerns, depression and blood pressure are also going up. Check out Dr. Greg’s cholesterol talk for more information.
1 in 4 Americans are taking statins and they want to increase that number. That seems crazy once we realize cholesterol isn’t the bad guy!
While they are treating you for a cholesterol “problem” they have more drugs to sell you for your other problems. Because your low hormones don’t have anything to do with statins even though we know cholesterol is the building block for steroid hormones. Like I said- If you are taking a statin drug you can never achieve hormonal balance.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn
Learn more about steroid hormones and the “mother hormone” in Living Hormoniously.