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Welcome to

COFFEEBREAKWITHFRIENDS!

SEPTEMBER IS…

Hello my CoffeeBreak Friends…and welcome to our September issue…

September seems to be a major Health Awareness Month…

We hope you find these articles on:

Addiction/Recovery, Thyroid Cancer, Prostate Cancer,

Cholesterol Awareness,

Childhood Cancers, Ovarian Cancer,

and National Emergency Preparedness Month

interesting and helpful! 

Be Well and God Bless!

Suzee Bailey

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NATIONAL RECOVERY MONTH…

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About Recovery Month

Get general information about National Recovery Month, held every September to increase awareness and celebrate successes of those in recovery.
National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.
Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.
There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Since these successes often go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments. Each September, tens of thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities around the country celebrate National Recovery Month. They speak about the gains made by those in recovery and share their success stories with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. In doing so, everyone helps to increase awareness and furthers a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders.
Now in its 26th year, Recovery Month highlights the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. Recovery Month also promotes the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible and encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those in need.
The Recovery Month theme is carefully developed each year to invite individuals in recovery and their support systems to spread the message and share the successes of recovery. Learn more about this year’s theme.
Materials produced for the Recovery Month observance include print, Web, television, radio, and social media tools. These resources help local communities reach out and encourage individuals in need of services, and their friends and families, to seek treatment and recovery services and information. Materials provide multiple resources including SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662 HELP (4357) for information and treatment referral as well as other SAMHSA resources for locating services.

 

 

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History
Over the years, National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) has inspired millions of people to raise awareness about mental and/or substance use disorders, share their stories of recovery, and encourage others who are still in need of services and support.
Recovery Month began in 1989 as Treatment Works! Month, which honored the work of substance use treatment professionals in the field. The observance evolved into National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in 1998, when it expanded to include celebrating the accomplishment of individuals in recovery from substance use disorders. The observance evolved once again in 2011 to National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to include all aspects of behavioral health.
Review the Recovery Month: 20 Years of Excellence and Achievement Timeline – 2009 (PDF | 357 KB), which showcases the many strides the treatment and recovery field has made and details the campaign’s success and evolution of Treatment Works! into National Recovery Month.
Support Organizations
Currently, more than 200 federal, state, and local government entities, as well as nonprofit organizations and associations affiliated with prevention, treatment, and recovery of mental and/or substance use disorders, comprise the Recovery Month Planning Partners’ group. The Planning Partners assist in the development, dissemination, and collaboration of materials; promotion; and event sponsorship for the Recovery Month initiative.
Last Updated: 07/18/2015

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Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-Prone And Should Protect Their Brains
JANUARY 28, 2015 2:03 PM ET

Teens can’t control impulses and make rapid, smart decisions like adults can — but why?

Research into how the human brain develops helps explain. In a teenager, the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls decision-making, is built but not fully insulated — so signals move slowly.

“Teenagers are not as readily able to access their frontal lobe to say, ‘Oh, I better not do this,’ ” Dr. Frances Jensen tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.

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Jensen, who’s a neuroscientist and was a single mother of two boys who are now in their 20s, wrote The Teenage Brain to explore the science of how the brain grows — and why teenagers can be especially impulsive, moody and not very good at responsible decision-making.

“We have a natural insulation … called myelin,” she says. “It’s a fat, and it takes time. Cells have to build myelin, and they grow it around the outside of these tracks, and that takes years.”

This insulation process starts in the back of the brain and heads toward the front. Brains aren’t fully mature until people are in their early 20s, possibly late 20s and maybe even beyond, Jensen says.

“The last place to be connected — to be fully myelinated — is the front of your brain,” Jensen says. “And what’s in the front? Your prefrontal cortex and your frontal cortex. These are areas where we have insight, empathy, these executive functions such as impulse control, risk-taking behavior.”

This research also explains why teenagers can be especially susceptible to addictions — including drugs, alcohol, smoking and digital devices.

On why teenagers are more prone to addiction

Addiction is actually a form of learning. … What happens in addiction is there’s also repeated exposure, except it’s to a substance and it’s not in the part of the brain we use for learning — it’s in the reward-seeking area of your brain. … It’s happening in the same way that learning stimulates and enhances a synapse. Substances do the same thing. They build a reward circuit around that substance to a much stronger, harder, longer addiction.

“The effects of substances are more permanent on the teen brain. They have more deleterious effects and can be more toxic to the teen than the adult.”
Just like learning a fact is more efficient, sadly, addiction is more efficient in the adolescent brain. That is an important fact for an adolescent to know about themselves — that they can get addicted faster.

It also is a way to debunk the myth, by the way, that, “Oh, teens are resilient, they’ll be fine. He can just go off and drink or do this or that. They’ll bounce back.” Actually, it’s quite the contrary. The effects of substances are more permanent on the teen brain. They have more deleterious effects and can be more toxic to the teen than the adult.

On the effects of binge drinking and marijuana on the teenage brain

Binge drinking can actually kill brain cells in the adolescent brain where it does not to the same extent in the adult brain. So for the same amount of alcohol, you can actually have brain damage — permanent brain damage — in an adolescent for the same blood alcohol level that may cause bad sedation in the adult, but not actual brain damage. …
Because they have more plasticity, more substrate, a lot of these drugs of abuse are going to lock onto more targets in [adolescents’] brains than in an adult, for instance. We have natural cannabinoids, they’re called, in the brain. We have kind of a natural substance that actually locks onto receptors on brain cells. It has, for the most part, a more dampening sedative effect. So when you actually ingest or smoke or get cannabis into your bloodstream, it does get into the brain and it goes to these same targets.

It turns out that these targets actually block the process of learning and memory so that you have an impairment of being able to lay down new memories. What’s interesting is not only does the teen brain have more space for the cannabis to actually land, if you will, it actually stays there longer. It locks on longer than in the adult brain. … For instance, if they were to get high over a weekend, the effects may be still there on Thursday and Friday later that week. An adult wouldn’t have that same long-term effect.

On marijuana’s effect on IQ

People who are chronic marijuana users between 13 and 17, people who [use daily or frequently] for a period of time, like a year plus, have shown to have decreased verbal IQ, and their functional MRIs look different when they’re imaged during a task. There’s been a permanent change in their brains as a result of this that they may not ever be able to recover.

It is a fascinating fact that I uncovered going through the literature around adolescence is our IQs are still malleable into the teen years. I know that I remember thinking and being brought up with, “Well, you have that IQ test that was done in grade school with some standardized process, and that’s your number, you’ve got it for life — whatever that number is, that’s who you are.”

It turns out that’s not true at all. During the teen years, approximately a third of the people stayed the same, a third actually increased their IQ, and a third decreased their IQ. We don’t know a lot about exactly what makes your IQ go up and down — the study is still ongoing — but we do know some things that make your IQ go down, and that is chronic pot-smoking.

On teenagers’ access to constant stimuli

We, as humans, are very novelty-seeking. We are built to seek novelty and want to acquire new stimuli. So, when you think about it, our social media is just a wealth of new stimuli that you can access at all times. The problem with the adolescent is that they may not have the insider judgment, because their frontal lobes aren’t completely online yet, to know when to stop. To know when to say, “This is not a safe piece of information for me to look at. If I go and look at this atrocious violent video, it may stick with me for the rest of my life — this image — and this may not be a good thing to be carrying with me.” They are unaware of when to gate themselves.

On not allowing teenagers to have their cellphones at night

It may or may not be enforceable. I think the point is that when they’re trying to go to sleep — to have this incredibly alluring opportunity to network socially or be stimulated by a computer or a cellphone really disrupts sleep patterns. Again, it’s also not great to have multiple channels of stimulation while you’re trying to memorize for a test the next day, for instance.

So I think I would restate that and say, especially when they’re trying to go to sleep, to really try to suggest that they don’t go under the sheets and have their cellphone on and be tweeting people.

First of all, the artificial light can affect your brain; it decreases some chemicals in your brain that help promote sleep, such as melatonin, so we know that artificial light is not good for the brain. That’s why I think there have been studies that show that reading books with a regular warm light doesn’t disrupt sleep to the extent that using a Kindle does.

 

 

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Drugs of Choice on College Campuses

Trends change over time and no drug is immune to college experimentation.

However, there are a few substances that are consistently abused among college students.

These include:

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Alcohol makes up the vast majority of substance-related problems on college campuses.

Because drinking is often socially acceptable, recognizing a problem in college students who drink can be difficult.

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Dubbed the “study drug,” Adderall and other stimulants are increasing in popularity

among college students who are facing pressure to meet all of their academic requirements.

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As legislation tips in favor of marijuana legalization, more college students

are turning to pot as their drug of choice. On some campuses, marijuana use outweighs even that of alcohol.

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Popularized in the 90s, ecstasy has made a resurgence in recent years in its pure form,

known as MDMA or molly. College students fall well within the target age range

for the “party drug,” which is most often abused by teens and 20-somethings.

MDMA is most common at raves and concerts.

HEALTH NEWS

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FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK HERE

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National Preparedness Month: What You Can Do
If an emergency occurred tomorrow, would you be ready?
September is National Preparedness Month. Sponsored by FEMA, National Preparedness Month aims to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.
National Preparedness Month is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care for emergencies and disasters, both large scale and smaller local events. We know that emergencies can happen unexpectedly in communities just like yours, to people like you. We’ve seen tornado outbreaks, river floods and flash floods, historic earthquakes, tsunamis, and even water main breaks and power outages that impact communities for days at a time.
As commendable as they may be in their profession of assisting those in need, police, fire and rescue may not always be able to reach you quickly in an emergency or disaster. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care for at least a short period of time following an incident; the more people who are prepared, the quicker the community will recover.
You are not helpless in the face of an emergency. With just a few simple steps, you can Be a Force of Nature by knowing your risk, taking action and being an example in your community.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT OUR EMERGENCY PREPARATION PAGE

CLICK HERE

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Cholesterol is a waxy substance that’s found in the fats (lipids) in your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to continue building healthy cells, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

When you have high cholesterol, you may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Your heart may not get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke.

High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) can be inherited, but it’s often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, and thus preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can go a long way toward reducing high cholesterol.

High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect high cholesterol.

When to see a doctor:

Ask your doctor for a baseline cholesterol test at age 20 and then have your cholesterol retested at least every five years. If your test results aren’t within desirable ranges, your doctor may recommend more frequent measurements. Your doctor may also suggest you have more frequent tests if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease or other risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Cholesterol is carried through your blood, attached to proteins. This combination of proteins and cholesterol is called a lipoprotein. You may have heard of different types of cholesterol, based on what type of cholesterol the lipoprotein carries. They are:

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol transports cholesterol particles throughout your body. LDL cholesterol builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow.
Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). This type of lipoprotein contains the most triglycerides, a type of fat, attached to the proteins in your blood. VLDL cholesterol makes LDL cholesterol larger in size, causing your blood vessels to narrow. If you’re taking cholesterol-lowering medication but have a high VLDL level, you may need additional medication to lower your triglycerides.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL, or “good,” cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.
Factors within your control — such as inactivity, obesity and an unhealthy diet — contribute to high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. Factors beyond your control may play a role, too. For example, your genetic makeup may keep cells from removing LDL cholesterol from your blood efficiently or cause your liver to produce too much cholesterol.

You’re more likely to have high cholesterol that can lead to heart disease if you have any of these risk factors:

Smoking. Cigarette smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them likely to accumulate fatty deposits. Smoking may also lower your level of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.
Obesity. Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
Large waist circumference. Your risk increases if you are a man with a waist circumference of at least 40 inches (102 centimeters) or a woman with a waist circumference of at least 35 inches (89 centimeters).
Poor diet. Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, will increase your total cholesterol. Eating saturated fat, found in animal products, and trans fats, found in some commercially baked cookies and crackers, also can raise your cholesterol level.
Lack of exercise. Exercise helps boost your body’s HDL “good” cholesterol while lowering your LDL “bad” cholesterol. Not getting enough exercise puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
Diabetes. High blood sugar contributes to higher LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. High blood sugar also damages the lining of your arteries.

High cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis, a dangerous accumulation of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of your arteries. These deposits (plaques) can reduce blood flow through your arteries, which can cause complications, such as:

Chest pain. If the arteries that supply your heart with blood (coronary arteries) are affected, you may have chest pain (angina) and other symptoms of coronary artery disease.
Heart attack. If plaques tear or rupture, a blood clot may form at the plaque-rupture site — blocking the flow of blood or breaking free and plugging an artery downstream. If blood flow to part of your heart stops, you’ll have a heart attack.
Stroke. Similar to a heart attack, if blood flow to part of your brain is blocked by a blood clot, a stroke occurs.

If you think you may have high cholesterol, or are worried about having high cholesterol because of a strong family history, make an appointment with your family doctor to have your cholesterol level checked.

Because appointments can be brief, and because there’s often a lot of ground to cover, it’s a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here’s some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there’s anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet. For a cholesterol test, you will likely have to avoid eating or drinking anything (other than water) for nine to 12 hours before the blood sample is taken.
Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing. High cholesterol itself has no symptoms, but high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. Letting your doctor know if you have symptoms such as chest pains or shortness of breath can help your doctor decide how aggressively your high cholesterol needs to be treated.
Write down key personal information, including a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes, and any major stresses or recent life changes, as well as exposure to other cardiac risks, such as a personal history of smoking or exposure to family members who smoke (secondary exposure).
Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you’re taking.
Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
Be prepared to discuss your diet and exercise habits. If you don’t already exercise or eat a healthy diet, be ready to talk to your doctor about any challenges you might face in getting started.
Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For high cholesterol, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

What kinds of tests will I need?
What’s the best treatment?
What foods should I eat or avoid?
What’s an appropriate level of physical activity?
How often do I need a cholesterol test?
What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you’re suggesting?
I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
Should I see a specialist?
If I need medication, is there a generic alternative to the medicine you’re prescribing me?
Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you’ve prepared to ask your doctor, don’t hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don’t understand something.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

Do you have a family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or heart disease or strokes?
What are your diet and exercise habits like?
Do you smoke? Are you or were you around other smokers?
Have you had a cholesterol test before? If so, when was your last test? What were your cholesterol levels?
What you can do in the meantime

It’s never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active. These are primary lines of defense against high cholesterol and its complications, including heart attack and stroke.

A blood test to check cholesterol levels — called a lipid panel or lipid profile — typically reports:

Total cholesterol
LDL cholesterol
HDL cholesterol
Triglycerides — a type of fat in the blood
For the most accurate measurements, don’t eat or drink anything (other than water) for nine to 12 hours before the blood sample is taken.

For more on your blood test numbers

click ↓ here

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Lifestyle and home remedies
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Lifestyle changes are essential to improve your cholesterol level. To bring your numbers down, lose excess weight, eat healthy foods and increase your physical activity. If you smoke, quit.

Lose extra pounds

Excess weight contributes to high cholesterol. Losing even 5 to 10 pounds can help lower total cholesterol levels. Start by taking an honest look at your eating habits and daily routine. Consider your challenges to weight loss — and ways to overcome them. Set long-term, sustainable goals.

Eat heart-healthy foods

What you eat has a direct impact on your cholesterol level. In fact, a diet rich in fiber and other cholesterol-lowering foods may help lower cholesterol as much as statin medication for some people.

Choose healthier fats.

Saturated fat and trans fat raise your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Get no more than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat. Monounsaturated fat — found in olive, peanut and canola oils — is a healthier option. Almonds and walnuts are other sources of healthy fat.
Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats, which are often found in margarines and commercially baked cookies, crackers and snack cakes, are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. Not only do trans fats increase your total LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, but they also lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

You may have noticed more food labels now market their products as “trans fat-free.” But don’t rely only on this label. In the United States, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat a serving, it can be marked trans fat-free. It may not seem like much, but if you eat a lot of foods with a small amount of trans fat, it can add up quickly. Instead, read the ingredients list. If a food contains a partially hydrogenated oil, that’s a trans fat, and you should look for an alternative.

Limit your dietary cholesterol. Aim for no more than 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol a day — or less than 200 mg if you have heart disease. The most concentrated sources of cholesterol include organ meats, egg yolks and whole milk products. Use lean cuts of meat, egg substitutes and skim milk instead.
Select whole grains. Various nutrients found in whole grains promote heart health. Choose whole-grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat flour and brown rice. Oatmeal and oat bran are other good choices.
Stock up on fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Snack on seasonal fruits. Experiment with vegetable-based casseroles, soups and stir-fries.
Eat heart-healthy fish. Some types of fish — such as cod, tuna and halibut — have less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than do meat and poultry. Salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote heart health.
Drink alcohol only in moderation. Moderate use of alcohol may increase your levels of HDL cholesterol — but the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t drink already. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. This means no more than one drink a day for women and one to two drinks a day for men.
Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help improve your cholesterol levels. With your doctor’s OK, work up to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Take a brisk daily walk. Ride your bike. Swim laps. To maintain your motivation, keep it fun. Find an exercise buddy or join an exercise group. And, you don’t need to get all 30 to 60 minutes in one exercise session. If you can squeeze in three to six 10-minute intervals of exercise, you’ll still get some cholesterol-lowering benefits.

Don’t smoke

If you smoke, stop. Quitting can improve your HDL cholesterol level. And the benefits don’t end there. Just 20 minutes after quitting, your blood pressure decreases. Within 24 hours, your risk of a heart attack decreases. Within one year, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker’s. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is similar to that of someone who’s never smoked.

Statin side effects:

Weigh the benefits and risks
Statin side effects can be uncomfortable,

making it seem like the risks outweigh the benefits of these powerful cholesterol-lowering medications.

Consider the risks and benefits.
By Mayo Clinic Staff

Doctors often prescribe statins for people with high cholesterol to lower their total cholesterol and reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke. Most people taking statins will take them for the rest of their lives unless they can achieve normal cholesterol levels through diet, exercise, weight loss and nutritional supplements. This can make statin side effects more difficult to manage.

For some people, statin side effects can make it seem like the benefit of taking a statin isn’t worth it. Before you decide to stop taking a statin, discover how statin side effects can be reduced.

What are statin side effects?

Muscle pain and damage
The most common statin side effect is muscle pain. You may feel this pain as a soreness, tiredness or weakness in your muscles. The pain can be a mild discomfort, or it can be severe enough to make your daily activities difficult. For example, you might find climbing stairs or walking to be uncomfortable or tiring.

Very rarely, statins can cause life-threatening muscle damage called rhabdomyolysis (rab-doe-mi-OL-ih-sis). Rhabdomyolysis can cause severe muscle pain, liver damage, kidney failure and death. Rhabdomyolysis can occur when you take statins in combination with certain drugs or if you take a high dose of statins.

Liver damage
Occasionally, statin use could cause your liver to increase its production of enzymes that help you digest food, drinks and medications. If the increase is only mild, you can continue to take the drug. Rarely, if the increase is severe, you may need to stop taking the drug. Your doctor might suggest a different statin. Certain other cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as gemfibrozil (Lopid) and niacin (Niacor, Niaspan), slightly increase the risk of liver problems in people who take statins.

Although liver problems are rare, your doctor will likely order a liver enzyme test before or shortly after you begin to take a statin. You shouldn’t need any additional liver enzyme tests unless you begin to have signs or symptoms of trouble with your liver. Contact your doctor immediately if you have unusual fatigue or weakness, loss of appetite, pain in your upper abdomen, dark-colored urine, or yellowing of your skin or eyes.

Digestive problems
Some people taking a statin may develop nausea, gas, diarrhea or constipation after taking a statin. These side effects are rare. Most people who have these side effects already have other problems with their digestive system. Taking your statin medication in the evening with a meal can reduce digestive side effects.

Rash or flushing
You could develop a rash or flushing after you start taking a statin. If you take a statin and niacin, either in a combination pill such as Simcor or as two separate medications, you’re more likely to have this side effect. Taking aspirin before taking your statin medication may help, but talk to your doctor first.

Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
It’s possible your blood sugar (blood glucose) level may increase when you take a statin, which may lead to developing type 2 diabetes. The risk is small but important enough that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on statin labels regarding blood glucose levels and diabetes. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

Neurological side effects
The FDA warns on statin labels that some people have developed memory loss or confusion while taking statins. These side effects reverse once you stop taking the medication. Talk to your doctor if you experience memory loss or confusion. There has also been evidence that statins may help with brain function — in patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s, for example. This is still being studied. Don’t stop taking your statin medication before talking to your doctor.

Who’s at risk of developing statin side effects?

Not everyone who takes a statin will have side effects, but some people may be at a greater risk than are others. Risk factors include:

  • Taking multiple medications to lower your cholesterol
    Being female
    Having a smaller body frame
    Being age 65 or older
    Having kidney or liver disease
    Having type 1 or 2 diabetes
    Drinking too much alcohol (More than two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger and more than one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65)

What causes statin side effects?

It’s unclear what causes statin side effects, especially muscle pain.

Statins work by slowing your body’s production of cholesterol. Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs by digesting food and producing new cells on its own. When this natural production is slowed, your body begins to draw the cholesterol it needs from the food you eat, lowering your total cholesterol.

Statins may affect not only your liver’s production of cholesterol but also several enzymes in muscle cells that are responsible for muscle growth. The effects of statins on these cells may be the cause of muscle aches.

How to relieve statin side effects

To relieve statin side effects, your doctor may recommend several options.

Discuss these steps with your doctor before trying them:

Take a brief break from statin therapy. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the muscle aches or other problems you’re having are statin side effects or just part of the aging process. Taking a break of 10 to 14 days can give you some time to compare how you feel when you are and aren’t taking a statin. This can help you determine whether your aches and pains are due to statins instead of something else.
Switch to another statin drug. It’s possible, although unlikely, that one particular statin may cause side effects for you while another statin won’t. It’s thought that simvastatin (Zocor) may be more likely to cause muscle pain as a side effect than other statins when it’s taken at high doses. Newer statin drugs are being studied that may have may have fewer side effects.
Change your dose. Lowering your dose may reduce some of your side effects, but it may also reduce some of the cholesterol-lowering benefits your medication has. It’s also possible your doctor will suggest switching your medication to another statin that’s equally effective but can be taken in a lower dose. For example, if you’ve successfully taken atorvastatin (Lipitor) for a long time at higher doses, your doctor may keep you at this level. However, higher doses aren’t recommended if you’re new to this medication.
Take it easy when exercising. It’s possible exercise could make your muscle aches worse. Talk to your doctor about changing your exercise routine.
Consider other cholesterol-lowering medications. Taking ezetimibe (Zetia), a cholesterol absorption inhibitor medication, may help you avoid taking higher doses of statins. However, some researchers question the effectiveness of ezetimibe compared with statins in terms of its ability to lower your cholesterol.
Don’t try over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Muscle aches from statins can’t be relieved with acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) the way other muscle aches are. Don’t try an OTC pain reliever without asking your doctor first.
Try coenzyme Q10 supplements. Coenzyme Q10 supplements may help to prevent statin side effects in some people, though more studies are needed to determine any benefits of taking it. If you’d like to try adding coenzyme Q10 to your treatment, talk to your doctor first to make sure the supplement won’t interact with any of your other medications.
Watch for drug interactions

Statins can have several potentially dangerous interactions with other medications and some foods. These interactions can make it more likely you’ll have statin side effects. These include:

All statins and grapefruit or grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice contains a chemical that can interfere with the enzymes that break down (metabolize) the statins in your digestive system. This can be dangerous because it’s uncertain what the effect would be on your total cholesterol. You should still be able to have some grapefruit or grapefruit juice, but talk to your doctor about limiting how much grapefruit you can have.
Lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev) or simvastatin (Zocor) and amiodarone (Cordarone). People taking the statins lovastatin or simvastatin, either alone or in combination with amiodarone (Cordarone), a medication for irregular heart rhythms, are at a greater risk of severe statin side effects, such as rhabdomyolysis.
All statins and gemfibrozil (Lopid). People who take both gemfibrozil (Lopid) and a statin may be at a greater risk of statin side effects.
Mevacor (lovastatin) and HIV drugs. Medicines used to treat HIV (protease inhibitors) should never be taken with Mevacor.
All statins and some antibiotic and antifungal medications. If you have a fungal or bacterial infection, be sure to tell your doctor if you take a statin.
All statins and some antidepressant medications. It’s possible that taking antidepressants, such as nefazodone, and a statin could make you more likely to have muscle aches.
All statins and some immunosuppressant medications. If you take a medication to suppress your immune system, such as cyclosporine (Sandimmune), and a statin, you may be more likely to have muscle aches.
Weigh the risks and benefits

Although statin side effects can be annoying, consider the benefits of taking a statin before you decide to stop taking your medication. Remember that statin medications can reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, and the risk of life-threatening side effects from statins is very low.

Even if your side effects are frustrating, don’t stop taking your statin medication for any period of time without talking to your doctor first. Your doctor may be able to come up with an alternative treatment plan that can help you lower your cholesterol without uncomfortable side effects.

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