New research in Canada by Amit Garg et al in the Canadian Medical Journal suggests that the risks of mixing statins with antibiotics can be fatal. The particular antibiotics identified is clarithromycin, which is one of the most common antibiotics prescribed (2.2 million prescriptions last year in England alone) and azithromycin.
The preliminary conclusion is that the antibiotic impairs the liver ability to break down the statin drug leading to a dangerous build up of the drug in the blood.
50,000 older users of statins and clarithromycin, or azithromycin were studied. Of those taking clarithromycin 200 deaths and 175 admissions to hospital with severe kidney damage in the subsequent 30 days were noted. In the following 30 days the azithromycin group suffered 155 deaths and 122 serious kidney admissions. Of course, the study group was more prone to death and illness than average, but when the researchers adjusted the figures to allow for this it was found that the risk of fatality was increased by 43%.
Amit Garg is quoted as saying, “When you think about how commonly these drugs are prescribed, it suggests that tens of thousands of cases worldwide could be prevented. We thought these drugs would be OK, but actually that may not be the case. We showed there was an interaction. This group of statins weren’t that different from the first group, so we do need to be careful about interactions.”
Professor Weissberg of the British Heart Foundation (hopefully it will soon see the light about cholesterol) is quoted in “The Times” as saying that doctors are aware of the riosks associated with mixing clarithromycin and statins and usually chose on after the other. Can you see those flying pigs, Professor?
The evidence against statins mounts (please see earlier blogs, which set out much of this), but the key point is that statins primarily reduce cholesterol, but cholesterol is good and not bad. As Professor John P. Cooke says, “Cholesterol itself is not bad. In fact, it is essential for life. Cholesterol is a building block for all cell membranes. It is also the precursor for sex hormones and other steroids that our bodies manufacture. It is only when cholesterol becomes oxidized that trouble begins.” (“The Cardiovascular Cure”, page 38). As Dr McGee in “Heart Frauds” reviews the evidence showing the importance and benefits of cholesterol. For example the mortality of men with cholesterols under160 was 17% poorer than for men between 160 and 240 (Hacobs et al “Circulation” 1992; 86:1046-1060).
If you take arginine supplementation to reduce and reverse the oxidation of cholesterol you improve your immune system and probably wont need antibiotics at all, but, if you do, you can take them without concern.