Urgent new warning for statin users

Your kidneys are among the most important organs in your body -- but millions of people treat theirs like punching bags.

It's not bad habits, it's bad medicine. The statin drugs given for supposedly high cholesterol may actually increase the risk of acute kidney injury by up to 34 percent, according to new research.

This risk supposedly kicks in at "high" doses, but there's nothing high about the levels used in the study at all. It starts at just 10 mg of Crestor (rosuvastatin), 20 mg of Lipitor (atorvastatin) or 40 mg of Zocor (simvastatin).

Those are the everyday doses millions of people are taking right now. In some cases, they're even starting doses -- and many people take double those levels or more.

The highest risk of acute kidney injury is in the first four months, according to the study in BMJ. But if you've been taking statins for a longer period, you're not out of the woods yet -- because the risk of acute kidney injury remains elevated even after two full years.

The researchers say it's not clear why statins may damage the kidneys, but two reasons jump out at me, starting with one of the most notorious and common side effects of all: muscle pain.

It's not just a little pain. It can be severe and even debilitating -- and in the worst cases, that pain is a sign of rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which your muscle fiber essentially dissolves right into your bloodstream.

Once it's in the blood, the dissolved fiber heads to your kidneys for processing -- and your kidneys can't handle it.

That alone can be enough to cause kidney damage, acute kidney injury and even kidney failure, but statins also block coenzyme Q10, a substance critical to both kidney function and healthy muscle.

That's why I say that anyone who takes a statin must (not should, must) take a coenzyme Q10 supplement along with it.

Better yet, talk with your doctor about not taking statins at all.

Along with potential side effects like that muscle pain I mentioned as well as liver damage, sexual problems, memory loss, and more, statins can cause something else -- something your doctor won't talk about.

They may work too well, bringing your cholesterol down to dangerously low levels.

I know many people think there's no such thing as too low when it comes to LDL -- but there is, and it's becoming such a serious and widespread problem that I recently took to my PBS television show to warn my viewers about it.

And now, I'm going warn you. Keep reading for the truth about cholesterol.