Friday, January 19, 2018

Statins, Donald Trump, and Public Health

Dr. Ronny Jackson, physician to the President, describes Donald Trump’s health as “excellent.” That seems to be some special medical sense of the word. President Trump has high cholesterol and this is being medicated with rosuvastatin. He has been told to lose weight and exercise. Interestingly, he uses ivermectin cream for treatment of rosacea, a disease whose victims break out in unsightly red blotches; this probably explains the makeup he wears.

Statins are known to have neurological side effects, sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing aggression and also sometimes causing memory loss and confusion. It is possible that Donald Trump is displaying these effects, but they are not well-understood and hard to diagnose. On the other hand, rosacea has a powerful effect on self-esteem; some people don’t like the way it makes them look. It is possible that rosacea explains some of Trump’s personality, especially if the onset was in his teenage years.

Returning to statins, it is likely that drugs so far-reaching in their systemic effect have some neurological effect on every regular user. It may be that no President ought regularly be using statins.

Statins are among the drugs most widely-prescribed among older adults, with some 30% of adults over 40 using statins at least sometimes in 2011-12. If the aggression-enhancing and serious cognitive impairments are fairly common it just might explain some of why elders are getting so cranky. Perhaps, literally, the outburst of fascism we are undergoing is in part a public health problem.

Perhaps, perhaps. I cannot draw strong conclusions from the evidence; this is a sketch of a research program, rather than a certain warning. Still, I would like to see Donald Trump taken off rosuvastatin for a time and find out if he becomes a calmer, more decent man.


Cham, Stephanie, Hayley J. Koslik, and Beatrice A. Golomb. “Mood, Personality, and Behavior Changes During Treatment with Statins: A Case Series.” Drug Safety - Case Reports 3 (December 29, 2015).

Golomb, Beatrice A., Joel E. Dimsdale, Hayley J. Koslik, Marcella A. Evans, Xun Lu, Steven Rossi, Paul J. Mills, Halbert L. White, and Michael H. Criqui. “Statin Effects on Aggression: Results from the UCSD Statin Study, a Randomized Control Trial.” PLoS ONE 10, no. 7 (July 1, 2015).

Qiuping Gu, Ryne Paulose-Ram, Vicki L. Burt, and Brian K. Kit. “Prescription Cholesterol-Lowering Medication Use in Adults Aged 40 and Over: United States, 2003–2012.” NCHS Data Briefs. National Center for Health Statistics, December 2014.

Staff, Politico. “Trump’s 2018 Physical Exam Results.” POLITICO, January 16, 2018.

“Statin Side Effects: Weigh the Benefits and Risks.” Mayo Clinic, April 26, 2016.

“Welcome to the UCSD Statin Effects Study.” Accessed January 19, 2018.

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