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Tag: cholesterol

Targeting “Bad Cholesterol” with Drugs Does Not Help Heart Health

Setting targets for ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol levels to ward off heart disease and death in those at risk might seem intuitive, but decades of research have failed to show any consistent benefit for this approach, reveals an analysis of the available data, published online in BMJ Evidence Based Medicine.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs are now prescribed to millions of people around the world in line with clinical guidelines. I have never been a fan of these drugs and have been talking about my disapproval of statins since at least 2008.

In this study, researchers looked at the data to see if cholesterol-lowering drugs do what they claim to do and reduce the risk of heart disease and death. Their conclusion:

“Considering that dozens of [randomized controlled trials] of LDL-cholesterol reduction have failed to demonstrate a consistent benefit, we should question the validity of this theory.”

While I’m not surprised, I’ll be some of you are experiencing some cognitive dissonance because for decades we have been trained to believe that we need cholesterol-lowering drugs in order to live longer. As it turns out, when it comes to statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs helping us live longer, it’s more a myth than a reality.

So, will this information change prescribing patterns of cholesterol-lowering drugs by mainstream doctors?

Probably not. As the researchers noted: “In most fields of science the existence of contradictory evidence usually leads to a paradigm shift or modification of the theory in question, but in this case the contradictory evidence has been largely ignored, simply because it doesn’t fit the prevailing paradigm.”

Your doctor may not acknowledge that the only one benefitting from your statin prescription is the drug company, but now you know and can make this decision for yourself.

If you’re nervous to stop taking one of these drugs, check out these other articles I’ve written about cholesterol and health, and please feel free to contact me to discuss natural ways to lower cholesterol without drugs.

It’s Time to Re-think Statins

Does taking pharmaceutical statins to reduce cholesterol really help people live longer? A new review of 70,000 patient histories says NO!

The paper’s authors say that not only are statins a complete waste of time and money, but that people with higher cholesterol have less heart disease! Here’s my favorite quote:

Woman holding an apple

“What we found in our detailed systematic review was that older people with high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, lived longer and had less heart disease.”

Shock! Heresy!

The article in the UK Telegraph, went on to say that:

The authors have called for a re-evaluation of the guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, a hardening and narrowing of the arteries, because “the benefits from statin treatment have been exaggerated”.

You should read about the study of statin effectiveness for yourself and pass it along to anyone you know who takes a statin to prevent heart disease.

Cholesterol is Your Friend, Not Your Enemy

I know, I know; it’s heresy to say that cholesterol might actually be good for you. That cholesterol might be something you really want to have running around in your bloodstream.

Heavens to mercy, save us all! Did she mean to say that cholesterol is good?


I got into this discussion on a recent family vacation after seeing an uncle’s grotesquely swollen hands. They would almost seem cartoonish, if they weren’t so painful or disabling for him. As a handyman, he can no longer wield a tool in these mishapen hands. My heart went out to him.

As it happens, he can directly connect the swelling in his hands to switching to a new cholesterol-lowering drug a few months ago. His doctor had the nurse return his call regarding the concern, and she told him to halve the dose. Several weeks later the swelling was worse than ever, yet when I urged him to stop taking the drug, he was too scared that his cholesterol levels would rise in the two weeks until his next scheduled appointment.

Not taking your cholesterol-lowering drug for two weeks won’t kill you, I tried to assure him, but living with chronic inflammation can cause serious long-term damage. Besides, it’s affecting your livelihood and your daily life. Not to mention that it’s something that you don’t need in the first place.

Luckily, Dr. Joseph Mercola has published a full explanation of this stance today in the Huffington Post, and he did a much better job than I could have with a well-researched and heavily-footnoted piece. Here’s a short excerpt, but I encourage you to read the article in its entirety at the Huffington Post.

In the United States, the idea that cholesterol is evil is very much ingrained in most people’s minds. But this is a very harmful myth that needs to be put to rest right now.

“First and foremost,” Dr. Rosedale points out, “cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane on Earth. In other words, there is no life on Earth that can live without cholesterol.

That will automatically tell you that, in and of itself, it cannot be evil. In fact, it is one of our best friends.

We would not be here without it. No wonder lowering cholesterol too much increases one’s risk of dying. Cholesterol is also a precursor to all of the steroid hormones. You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol.”

Sally Fallon, the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Mary Enig, Ph.D, an expert in lipid biochemistry, have gone so far as to call high cholesterol “an invented disease, a ‘problem’ that emerged when health professionals learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood.”[iii]

How does the Atkins Diet hold up after 2 years?

A study just released showed that participants in a 2-year weight loss study lost an average of 10.3 lbs. while following the Atkins low-carb diet. This was a eensy-weensy bit more than the participants following a Mediterranean diet (lost 10 lbs. average) and the ones on a low-fat diet (lost 6.5 lbs.).

While the Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Foundation is hailing these results as vindication of the Atkins approach, it’s worth a closer look. First of all, they should be jumping for joy because they funded the study, although the study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine and is enjoying widespread acceptance in the academic medical community.

But was it truly measuring the Atkins Diet as is popularly practiced? The Associated Press reports that although the Atkins participants had limits for carbs while there were none for calories or fat, “it did urge dieters to choose vegetarian sources of fat and protein.”

Hmmmm… Those I know who have followed the Atkins diet seem to interpret the rules as carte blanche to eat meat all the time. And eat a lot of meat they do. Since even vegetables are restricted in the Atkins world, I wonder if most Atkins followers understand that to mean that they should get their protein — and the majority of their calories — from meat or other non-vegetarian products.

In my limited experience, I’ve seen Atkins followers regularly swallow down 4 or 5 hot dogs at a sitting (no buns, of course), consume meat at every meal, and eat huge amounts of eggs and cheese on a regular basis. These do not seem like “vegetarian sources of fat and protein to me.

While the researchers measured weight loss and cholesterol levels, they did not look at overall health. While the stomach can digest protein more easily when it’s not eaten with carbs, the body needs carbohydrates to provide us with energy and other life-sustaining forces.

And you know what I think about measuring health based on cholesterol levels! Don’t even get me started there.

A body flooded with protein becomes hyper-acidic (Atkins suggests testing your urine to check for ketosis, a sign that your body is out of balance) and the excess acid will start breaking down other tissues in a chemical reaction. This is a seriously unhealthy state that can lead to other problems down the road.

My uncle, who practiced Atkins in this manner for about 20 years, was recently striken with scleraderma, a severe and uncomfortable auto-immune condition whereby the skin hardens from the extremities inward. Because Atkins doesn’t focus on overall health, my uncle felt comfortable with his 6-a-day Diet Coke routine not interfering with is weight loss goals. Makes you wonder if this kind of unhealthy diet had anything to do with his affliction.

Sometimes it’s worth taking a look behind the headlines to see what they really mean. The Mediterranean diet in the study empasized poultry, fish, olive oil and nuts, and those participants were only .3 lbs away from the Atkins followers after 2 years. I’ll be they’re a lot healthier, too.