Amnesia and cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs

People's Pharmacy

July 24, 2005|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

My cholesterol has always been around 200, but I have a bad family history and a past angioplasty. In addition to a good diet and regular exercise, my doctor has prescribed various statin drugs to lower my cholesterol. Three different ones have given me peripheral neuropathy (pins and needles).

My doctor next prescribed Crestor, which he takes himself. I started on Friday, and on Sunday I woke with what has been diagnosed as transient global amnesia. I played golf that morning and played well, but I kept asking the same questions over and over. My wife and my golfing partners decided I should go to the hospital after nine holes.

This began at 7 a.m., and I did not regain any short-term memory until 3 p.m. By 5 p.m. I was back to normal. The doctors doubt the Crestor was responsible. Could it have been?

We can't say whether Crestor caused your transient global amnesia, but others have reported memory problems and TGA while taking statin cholesterol-lowering medicines. The first person we heard from was Dr. Duane Graveline. He described his experience in the book Lipitor: Thief of Memory.

TGA is not a common side effect, but it is very distressing. You and your doctor may need to find something other than a statin to reduce your LDL cholesterol further.

When you write about the high cost of medicines, you should be more helpful. Tell people to shop around, because prices vary from one pharmacy to another. The savings can be significant.

When my mother's medicines became cost-prohibitive, we contacted the drug companies. They have programs to assist people with very low incomes. Please tell your readers about these alternatives.

It makes sense to compare prices from several pharmacies, both local and mail-order. People with low incomes should certainly check the pharmaceutical companies' assistance programs. They require some paperwork but can save a lot of money.

To find out more go, to the Web site www.helping

I have prostate cancer. I heard on the local news that pomegranate juice might lower PSA. Is there any scientific research to back this up?

A group of scientists in Marburg, Germany, has been investigating the effects of pomegranate juice and its components on prostate cancer cells. Because this is laboratory research ("in vitro" or cell-culture research), it has no bearing on PSA (prostate-specific antigen), a marker for prostate cancer.

Their studies show that pomegranate juice inhibits the growth and discourages the migration of prostate cancer cells. They concluded: "Overall, this study demonstrates significant antitumor activity of pomegranate-derived materials against human prostate cancer" (Journal of Medicinal Food, Fall 2004). Follow-up studies have confirmed this.

Recent research shows that PSA is not a foolproof indicator of prostate cancer (Journal of the American Medical Association, July 6, 2005). There are no clinical studies to show that drinking pomegranate juice will help you overcome prostate cancer, but the existing science suggests it won't hurt and might help.

Several months ago, I went to my neurologist for my yearly physical and told him about a problem I had with my legs "jumping" at night and waking me up. He gave me the technical name for it and wrote me a prescription for Mirapex.

I then told him I had read in your column about putting a bar of soap in the bed, so he told me to try the soap and fill the prescription if it didn't work. I still have the unfilled prescription sitting on my bathroom vanity. When we went on a trip to Yellowstone, I took my soap along and slept fine every night we were gone.

This home remedy mystifies us, but we have heard from many readers like you. The risk of unwrapping a fresh bar of soap and putting it under the bottom sheet where the legs will be is almost zero. The cost is far less than a prescription.

If home remedies do not work, the Food and Drug Administration has just approved the prescription drug Requip for restless legs.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site:

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