Ask the Pharmacist: Thyroid-related cholesterol problems don’t respond to statins

Suzy Cohen
Side effects associated with statin drugs very much mimics the picture of a selenium deficiency.

The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and it regulates your body temperature, how fast you burn fat and your energy levels. Most people with hypothyroidism do not even know they have the condition because they are not doing the correct labs or misinterpreting the results. 

There is a good correlation between the thyroid gland’s functioning and your total levels of cholesterol and LDL. A rule of thumb is that the lower your thyroid hormone, the more lipid (cholesterol and triglyceride) abnormalities you have.

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Anyone who has been diagnosed with cholesterol (lipid) abnormalities should have a complete thyroid hormone profile conducted. Cholesterol drugs may affect your thyroid gland, and reduce thyroid levels possibly causing or contributing to hypothyroidism! The reason this could happen is through the drug-nutrient depletion effect, what I call the “drug mugging” effect. Statins reduce CoQ10, Vitamin D, and selenium-containing proteins (think glutathione). Statins don’t vacuum cholesterol out of your arteries, they just reduce the amount you produce moving forward.

Side effects associated with statin drugs very much mimics the picture of a selenium deficiency. You cannot make adequate thyroid hormone without selenium by the way! So, if you take a statin type of medication, I urge you to take high-quality versions of these nutrients and eat a healthy well-balanced diet. Doing so will mitigate some of the side effects of the statin.

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Speaking of side effects, muscle problems are top of the list. Statins are far more likely to cause muscle pain, cramps and skeletal muscle damage if you already have hypothyroidism (diagnosed or not). So, you can see why it’s important to have a thyroid profile done at least once a year and more often if you take a statin.

If you’re a practitioner, then please always consider your patient’s thyroid status before you prescribe a statin drug, or any lipid-lowering medication. If you’re a patient trying to make sense of this, then ask for a complete thyroid profile. It’s a blood test. Today’s laws permit you, the patient, to visit some qualifying labs and get this type of test all done by yourself.

The clinical pearl I want to relay today is that taking a statin if you have hypothyroidism could be harmful because there is a situation called thyroid-induced myopathy, and it will be exacerbated by the statins. The reason is because statins are well-known to induce myopathies galore! It’s probably their #1 side effect!

Finally, I want to point one thing out. Some of you don’t respond to lipid-lowering medications. There could be a reason and you should know it before you raise your statin dosage over and over.

If you’d like to read the longer version of this article, please sign up for my newsletter at In closing, if you find yourself resistant to statins (meaning your cholesterol ratios remain high during statin therapy), it could be due to you having hypothyroidism and dyslipidemia related to low thyroid will not respond well to statins, no matter how high the dose.

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit