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Statins Block the Beneficial Effect of Exercise

The well known benefits of exercise in retarding the progression of atherosclerosis failed to manifest in a six-year study reported on in the June 15 2004 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The DNASCO study, a six-year randomized, controlled clinical trial, examined the effects of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise on inflammation and atherosclerosis in 140 middle-aged men. One group of participants was assigned to five weekly sessions of up to an hour of aerobic exercise, while the remaining participants remained at their usual activity levels. Ultrasound examinations monitored atherosclerosis progression by measuring carotid artery intima-media thickness at the second and sixth year of the trial, and blood samples provided C-reactive protein levels that reflected the amount of inflammation experienced by the subjects.

At the trial’s conclusion, ventilatory aerobic threshold was increased by 19.5 percent in the group of men who exercised, however carotid intima-media thickness progression was the same as the nonexercisers and C-reactive protein levels were only slightly lowered. Yet a small group of men in the study who were not taking a class of cholesterol-reducing drugs known as statins appeared to benefit from exercise, as demonstrated by 40 percent less carotid intima-media progression than that of nonexercising men at the end of the study.

Peter H. Langsjoen, MD, of Coenzyme Q10 Laboratory, Inc., offered an interpretation of the findings: “We know that intermittent exercise enhances Coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis resulting in higher endogenous CoQ10 levels and it may be hypothesized that this is a factor in the well-known health benefits of exercise. This study makes perfect sense in showing that statins block the beneficial effect of exercise, probably through their blocking of CoQ10 biosynthesis.”

Key concepts: Coenzyme Q10, statins, exercise