Two new studies have shown that statins impair the immune system. One study (from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center) found that statins impair the immune response (1). And another study (from Emory University) found that statins can block the ‘effectiveness’ of the flu vaccine in the elderly (2).
Of course, as always, the 'experts' are all saying that further research is needed and people should carry on taking their statins. However, they are conveniently ignoring the other data confirming that low cholesterol is bad for the immune system.
Back in 1997, researchers in the Netherlands published an article in the Lancet showing that in the case of the elderly, those with the highest cholesterol are best protected from cancer and infections (3).
Other research, led by the University of California, has confirmed that derivatives of cholesterol play an important role in the immune system and could protect humans from a wide range of viruses, such as: Ebola, Rift Valley Fever, Nipah, and other deadly pathogens (4).
When the immune system is first exposed to a new pathogen, it develops (through the production of memory cells) the ability to recognise the invader when it next enters the body. This ‘memory’ of the immune system is provided by a clustering of T-cell receptors and cholesterol plays a key part in this process.
Therefore, is it really a surprise to find that the immune system and vaccines are impaired in those who take statins?
- Influence of Statins on Influenza Vaccine Response in Elderly Individuals
- Impact of Statins on Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Against Medically Attended Acute Respiratory Illness
- Total cholesterol and risk of mortality in the oldest old.
- Interferon-Inducible Cholesterol-25-Hydroxylase Broadly Inhibits Viral Entry by Production of 25-Hydroxycholesterol