Ten years ago when given Lipitor® I promptly experienced truly frightening episodes of transient global amnesia that started my research on possible side effects of the statin drugs. Very little was on the internet in those days but I did find mention of the fact that CoQ10 was inhibited by statin drugs.
I reported then that this relative reduction in CoQ10 might have serious consequences on cell wall stability, anti-oxidation and ATP ( adenosine triphosphate ) formation and as recently as four years ago that was really all I was saying.
If you look back through my earlier books such as Lipitor®, Thief of Memory and Statin Drugs Side Effects you will not see much change in my presentation of CoQ10 involvement and importance with statin adverse reactions and certainly nothing was said by the drug companies about this.
It was not until my third book, The Statin Damage Crisis, that I accumulated additional information about what this energy role of CoQ10 really amounted to.
Some of you may have observed that energy lack is a quite constant adverse reaction of statin treatment. Heart failure was being repeatedly reported and according to researchers in the field such as Peter Langsjoen, M.D., this was directly related to CoQ10 insufficiency and to the high energy demands of the heart.
It was then that I learned that CoQ10 was much more than just involved with electron transfer. Complexes 1 and 2 of this process required CoQ10 in its biochemical structure. These complexes that move electrons about are partially made of CoQ10! This is a far greater role than my earlier descriptions suggested but my newly acquired knowledge was to be much greater.
It was after publication of The Statin Damage Crisis that another major role of CoQ10 was revealed to me. I had previously said CoQ10 was an anti-oxidant but failed to say how critical this was. Because of its location right in the mitochondrial structure, CoQ10 was instantly available where it was most needed.
This was just at the point in the mitochondria where the ROS ( reactive oxygen species ) are being produced from the food we metabolize. I think of ROS as free radicals frantically looking about for an electron to restore electrical neutrality.
Remember they have just been robbed and they are searching about in all directions looking for another electron . They do not care if it is an adjacent lipid, protein or DNA strand. Any electron will do and that is where mitochondrial DNA damage and mutation enter the picture.
This is also why it is so important that CoQ10 be taken at the same time, and preferably slightly ahead of, a statin. The moment one takes a statin, the availability of CoQ10 for anti-oxidation is compromised allowing excess oxidative damage to our mitochondrial DNA. This is an immediate and, it seems, irreversible process. From that time on, it appears that even a great excess of supplemental CoQ10 cannot reverse the damage.
As I have said repeatedly, this process of mitochondrial damage and mutation can occur in any nucleated cell in our body. If this process tends to be located primarily in neurologic tissue, nerve damage results. If excessive in muscle tissue, then myopathy results.
Liver tissue yields hepatitis. The tissue of the pancreas may yield diabetes. Any organ in the body can be affected by this remarkable process with so many different clinical forms, yet all are alike in their difference.
Any combination can result. All are due to mitochondrial DNA damage. The pattern is sufficiently like the process of aging to justify the term accelerated or premature aging.
Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor