Statins Inhibit Squalene Synthesis
by Chris Masterjohn
Statins (Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor, etc) do not only inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol. Since squalene is a precursor to cholesterol, and statins cut off cholesterol synthesis prior to the formation of squalene, statins therefore inhibit the synthesis of squalene.
As is true for coenzyme Q10, this cannot be considered a "side effect." Inhibiting squalene, a cholesterol precursor, is the direct purpose of the statin drugs.
Yet squalene is much more than a precursor to cholesterol. In fact, only 10% of synthesized squalene is used for cholesterol synthesis. The other 90% is stored or used as an antioxidant.
Squalene as an Antioxidant
Squalene accumulates at the greatest concentrations in the skin, where it appears to play a vital role in quenching free radical oxygen (oxygen singlets), preventing the harmful effects of lipid peroxidation. Adequate concentrations of squalene in the skin prevent oxidative damage from ultraviolet light.
Squalene also appears to play a similar role in the retina, where it is known to play some kind of important function.
Squalene for Detoxification
Administration of squalene at high doses induces the detoxification and elimination of toxic pollutants such as organochlorines, theophylline, and strychnine in animals. The doses used are very high, and it is as yet unclear what the implications of this are for human health.
Squalene as an Anti-Cancer Agent
A significant body of evidence indicates that reasonable doses of supplemental squalene prevents the chemical initiation of some kinds of cancers, and promotes the regression of some kinds of preexisting tumors.
One animal study found that a 1% squalene diet reduced a certain type of colon cancer foci by 46%. Another study found that squalene as 2% of the diet made animals resistant to the toxic effects of whole-body gamma radiation.1
Squalene in Food
While the oils of olive, palm, wheat-germ, amaranth, and rice bran contain some squalene, none match the squalene content of shark liver oil, after (the latin name of) which squalene is named.
Shark liver oil, like cod liver oil, contains the same benefits as cod liver oil, such as vitamins A and D, and omega-3 fatty acids, but its high squalene content as well as its alkoxylglycerol content make it an even more prized supplement to a healthy diet.
Many people find that shark liver oil boosts their immune system and increases the health of their skin, and some researchers suggest it has cancer-preventative properties because of its high squalene content.
Squalene also does wonders for the skin topically, although shark liver oil is not practical to use for this because of its fishy smell. Some companies have isolated the squalene from shark liver oil to use topically.
Squalene — Another Hero, Fallen Victim
Squalene's benefits as an antioxidant and anti-cancer agent make it yet one more hero of the healthful body fallen victim to the use of statins.
1. Information on the functions of squalene on this page is from Kelly, Gregory S, "Squalene And Its Potential Clinical Uses," Alternative Medicine Review 4(1):29-36 1999 Feb.