X-Message-Number: 16669
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2001 18:11:38 EDT
Subject: Kryos News #7



All of the critical infrastructure is now in place in the new facility and we 
are in the long, grinding process of setting up and trying to organize 4,000 
square feet of equipment and supplies into a 2,000 square foot space. It's 
going better than expected and we are actually modestly ahead of schedule. we 
will know more on when we able to offer vitrification after we complete the 
move in and our discussions with 21st Century Medicine.


by Mike Darwin

Doug Skrecky and others have repeatedly pointed out the benefits of the 
statins; a class of drugs developed to lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol and 
reduce the risk of heart disease. About two years ago the statins caught my 
attention in a most unusual way: two of the largest mortuary chains in US 
were experiencing economic difficulties due an unexpectedly low incidence of 
death. In other words, something had begun squaring the curve of human life 
expectancy in the US. In still other words, something was very likely 
extending human lifespan. If it was a drug, then it could well be the first 
drug proven to extend human mean lifespan and, just possibly might be working 
to extend maximum lifespan as well.

A quick look at the statistics indicated that the biggest reason for the drop 
in death rates was approximately a 30% decrease in cardiovascular mortality 
(stroke and heart attack) over a period of about 5 years. That is 
unprecedented. However, over the following year as I carefully looked at 
all-cause mortality it became apparent that it had decreased as well. Given 
the growing incidence of obesity and adult onset diabetes among the younger 
US population I found the fact that overall mortality had decreased quite 

Over the past year a possible reason for this has become clearer: people 
taking statin drugs are not just experiencing dramatic reductions in heart 
disease, they are experiencing the following reductions in other major causes 
of mortality and morbidity:

30% reduction in the incidence of adult onset (Type II) diabetes in statin 
users over pair matched controls.

60% reduction in osteoporosis-related fractures in statin users over pair 
matched controls.

A still unquantified reduction the incidence of Alzheimer's disease which has 
been put at between 30% and 70% of comparable non-statin users.

A large decrease in circulating levels of C-reactive protein which is a 
pro-inflammatory protein implicated not only in heart disease, but in stroke, 
some forms of cancer, and possible some dementias.

Decreased overall age-associated cognitive decline (independent of 
Alzheimer's) in people using statins.

The NIH has recently decided that at least three times as many Americans 
should be receiving statin therapy than currently are doing so. The 
acceptable lower limits on LDL cholesterol level and LDL/HDH ratio were 
decreased to encourage physicians to put more patients on statins and allow 
patients to collect from their health insurers for statin therapy.

Not surprisingly, even patients with low-normal LDL cholesterol levels and 
good LDL/HDL ratios who take statins also experience a marked reduction in 
the incidence of heart attack and stroke, although numbers here are less 

Unfortunately, statins aren't for everyone. And, for some of us, finding one 
we can tolerate can be daunting. I'd like to share my personal experience 

Not surprisingly I've decided that statin therapy is appropriate for me. I 
have a bad family history of heart disease and while my parents are still 
alive at age 80, my father had life threatening systemic arteriosclerosis 15 
years ago and was given only a year or two to live. He had severe multiple 
vessel coronary artery disease and femoral and popliteal artery 
atherosclerosis so bad he could not walk across the room without the pain of 
intermittent claudication. At that time I persuaded him to go on a modified 
Pritkin diet (including essential fatty acids that were likely to decrease 
cancer incidence and depression) and begin taking 200 mg/day of CoQ10. I also 
persuaded both of my parents to begin regular exercise.  I also got my father 
to ostensibly give up his 50 plus year habit of smoking 3 packs a day of 
Camel cigarettes each day.

Both my parents went on this diet at that time and began a program of walking 
at the local shopping mall. Shortly after they began this program I urged 
both of them to start on statin therapy despite the fact that my father's 
cholesterol has always been below 200 mg/dl with good HDL/LDL ratios. His 
sisters and brothers also had low cholestrerols: both sisters died of heart 
disease: one in her mid 50s the other in her mid 60's and only one of his 2 
brothers escaped past 60.

My father worked up to walking two miles a day two years ago. He is now down 
to one mile a day and has had some return of intermittent claudication. He 
started smoking a few cigarettes a day a few years ago and I really can't 
fault him. Like I told him at the time he first got sick: "Hey, it's your 
life, and a life that is torture isn't worth living. I can't tell how 
important tobacco is to you and I wouldn't try to guess. I will tell you 
though that if you keep smoking you aren't going to live very much longer. 
Either way you decide I'll understand." And I meant it.

Most of my paternal cousins have had angioplasty or bypass; some are younger 
than me; the youngest is 38! None are obese and the one that smokes is the 
only one who hasn't had coronary artery disease diagnosed yet!

So, statins made good sense in my case not just as theoretical multifactorial 
life extension drugs, but as a treatment for a very real risk. My LDL 
cholesterol sits around 260 to 280 on a normal diet. I've kept it low only by 
means of pretty unpleasant fat restriction which has gotten harder to adhere 
to as I've gotten older. So, I looked around and decided that the statin with 
the most evidence of benefit was Mevacor (lovastatin). I realized that this 
was very likely due to the facts that it was among the oldest of statins and 
that its manufacturer, MSD, had spent many millions of dollars on solid 
randomized clinical trials to validate its effectiveness. A close second was 
Prevastatin (Prevacor). Unfortunately, both of these drugs caused intense 
itching at my forehead, my armpits and my groin. I asked Steve Harris, M.D. 
to suggest a statin that was as structurally dissimilar to these two as he 
could. He suggested Lescol and I tried it. Bingo! No itching and a 50 
reduction in my LDL cholesterol with only modest dietary restrictions. A side 
benefit was a noticeable improvement in chronic pain in my shoulder, my legs 
and a dramatic improvement in my long running battle with gingivitis. 

Gingivitis due to periodontal disease is a major source of C-reactive 
protein. Possibly one wise decision my father made (against my strenuous 
recommendations at the time) was to have all of his perfectly healthy teeth 
pulled when he was in his early 50's due to refractory gum disease.

The take home message here is basic: if you aren't on a statin and are at 
risk for heart disease you should give strong consideration to going on one. 
If you are taking speculative and un-validated (in humans) drugs to extend 
your lifespan you may want to reconsider this strategy and start taking a 
statin instead. 

Statins are not risk free and not everyone can take them. While I had no rise 
liver enzymes despite the itching I experienced, many people do experience an 
increase in liver enzymes (this is a marker of liver cell injury). If you do 
take statins and you use acetaminophen (Tylenol or any of its relatives) you 
should either stop, or take 500 mg of N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC)  with each 
1,000 mg dose of acetaminophen you take. Acetamiophen is markedly toxic to 
the liver because it is metabolized into potent free radicals by the 
hepatocytes. This radical injury can be prevented by administration of NAC up 
to even a few hours after the ingestion of acetaminophen. Indeed "rescue" of 
"Tylenol suicides" is done using large doses of oral and/or IV NAC. And keep 
in mind that acetaminophen is in lots of products: cough syrups, NyQuil (and 
its analogs), headache medicines, and over the counter medicines for 
menstrual dysphoria and cramps.

The first true life extension drug for human may be here. I urge you to talk 
with your physician about whether a statin may be right for you. 
There are many scientific references to support each point above. I have not 
included them for this audience because the best way for you to investigate 
these claims and the qualifications on them is to do the search yourself. A 
Goggle, AltaVista, GoFor or other similarly capable search engine using they 
words statins + osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, diabetes, side effects, etc., will 
yield a plethora of hits. There will even be sites shown that claim that 
statins kill and you shouldn't take them at all. Any attempt I make at 
sifting these computer accessible sites, including peer-reviewed National 
Library of Medicine Journal abstracts would consume far too much space here 
and be subject to charges of bias. Perhaps Doug Skrecky is the man to do 


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