The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recently issued new guidelines for cholesterol levels that call for a target LDL (the “bad cholesterol”) of 70 for those who are considered at very high risk of a heart attack. This level would be virtually impossible to reach without using statin drugs, which the NCEP recommends as the primary way to reach this target goal.
The common belief most Americans have is that the lower one’s cholesterol the less the risk of heart disease and the better one’s health will be. As is often the case, the truth is more complicated and much information about the dangers of low cholesterol is selectively omitted by doctors, drug companies and supposedly objective “educational” organizations and boards, which promulgate health guidelines for the general public.
It is important to note that eight out of nine expert panelists of the NCEP had financial ties to the drug companies whose drugs (statins) are being recommended to the public. These ties include consulting work, honoraria for speaking engagements, and other perks from the drug companies.
Conflicts of interest are common in expert panels or regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect the public interest and bring into question the objectivity of the proposed guidelines.
Let’s review what we do know about cholesterol:
1. As one decreases the amount of foods you eat with cholesterol your body tries to manufacture more on its own, as you eat foods with more cholesterol your body manufactures less cholesterol.
2. Cholesterol is not a deadly poison. It’s a sterol (fatty acid chain) that is vital to the body for several important functions including:
As the raw material for DHEA and Pregnenolone, which are the foundational building blocks for all hormones. The body uses DHEA and Pregnenolone to build hormones like testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
As the lipid (fat) membrane for all cells including: blood, tissue, muscle, artery, etc.
To bind with toxins in the blood and remove through the venues and lymphatic systems into the bowels.
Cholesterol is also the building block of pre-vitamin A, which is converted by sunlight into Vitamin D.
3. The common terms “good and bad cholesterol” do not actually refer to cholesterol at all. They refer to carrier proteins (hence the terms HDL and LDL – High and Low Density Lipoproteins) that act like “baskets” to transport cholesterol between the blood and the liver. The “bad” form is Low Density Lipoprotein, which carries cholesterol from the liver, where it is made, to the blood. It is considered “bad” because too much cholesterol in the blood slowly clogs the arteries. On the other hand, what is termed “good” cholesterol is High Density Lipoprotein that transports cholesterol from the blood back to the liver, without causing trouble.
Any cholesterol can get oxidized or damaged which then can render it toxic in the body. The factors that lead to this includes: environmental and dietary toxins, stress and insufficient levels of anti-oxidants in the blood.
4. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in America accounting for 44% of all deaths. Although most Americans believe that high cholesterol levels are the primary marker indicating Cardiovascular risk the following evidence contradicts this assumption:
Researchers overwhelmingly concluded that homocysteine levels are up to 40 times more predictive than cholesterol in assessing cardiovascular disease risk.
According to the Journal of The American Medical Association, in a published study entitled: “Cholesterol and Mortality. 30 Years follow-up from the Framingham study”; after the age of 50 there is no increased overall death associated with high cholesterol! In fact medical researchers reported that CVD (Cardiovascular Disease) death rates INCREASED by 14% for every 1 mg/dl drop in total cholesterol levels per year.
The European Heart Journal recently published a 3-year study involving 11,500 patients. The findings included that those with low cholesterol (below 160mg/dl) had a relative risk of death that was 2.27 times higher than those with high cholesterol. The most common cause of death in the low cholesterol group was cancer – which makes sense if one remembers that one of cholesterol’s purposes is to detoxify the body and most cancers are related to toxicity levels. The risk of CVD deaths was the same for both groups.
Researchers at the University of San Diego School of Medicine (UCSD) point out that in those over the age of 75 high cholesterol is protective, rather than harmful and that low cholesterol is a risk factor for heart arrhythmias.
The same UCSD researchers found that there were no studies that show cholesterol-lowering drugs lower overall mortality in women.
The Journal of Cardiac Failure published findings of a report titled: “Low Serum Total Cholesterol is Associated with Marked Increase in Mortality in Advanced Heart Failure”. In this analysis of 1,134 patients with heart disease they found low cholesterol levels were associated with worse outcomes in heart failure patients, while high cholesterol improved survival rates. In addition, the findings showed that elevated cholesterol levels among patients were not associated with hypertension, diabetes or coronary heart disease.
Despite statin drugs success in lowering cholesterol levels the death rate from heart disease has not changed over the last 75 years, in fact heart failure is more than double what it was in 1996.
2,700 people die every day from heart disease.