Recent research shows that very low cholesterol levels may be just as unhealthy as very high the cholesterol levels. Low cholesterol increases mortality from cancer, infections and suicide.
In today’s society, cholesterol is considered a villain. Everyone knows that high cholesterol causes heart disease. TV ads warn us that diet and exercise may not be enough, and drugs are increasingly prescribed to reduce cholesterol levels.
Controlling cholesterol is gospel in heart medicine. It does not logically follow then that all cholesterol is bad and you should try to wipe out any cholesterol in your body. Cholesterol control guides treatment, and sell billions of dollars in drugs.
We all are told bad cholesterol, LDL causes heart attacks and good cholesterol, HDL, is protective. But why do people with great cholesterol levels still suffer heart attacks? Half of all heart attacks and stokes occur in apparently healthy men and women with normal LDL cholesterol levels,
WE ALL NEED CHOLESTEROL
We need cholesterol to build and maintain cell membranes, for production of sex hormones, to aid in the manufacture of bile (which helps digest fats), and to convert sunshine to vitamin D. Cholesterol is also important for the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Cholesterol builds cell membranes, forms hormones. It is a part of all your brain bio-chemicals, lines your nervous system for electrical flow, heals damaged tissues, and feeds the lens of the eye- which has no blood supply. Cataracts are promoted by anything that inhibits the rich cholesterol supply of the lens.
Cholesterol stays solvent in the blood and is carried by lipoproteins, as LDL, from the liver to other tissues and then backs to the liver by HDL to the liver.
Since lowering the bad LDL cholesterol reduces deaths from heart disease, how far can we safely lower LDL? Less than 130 is a good LDL level, but is that good enough?
We know a lot less about HDL, but we know: raising it reduces heart attacks, prevents arterial disease and its consequences: impotence, wrinkles and short-term memory loss. Your HDL should be about 60. But no one has proved that HDL takes cholesterol out of arteries.
The FDA approves any drug that lowers cholesterol. They have not required proof that these drugs actually reduce heart attacks. Knowing what drugs do to LDL and HDL doesn’t tell us what these drugs do to people. Its amazing that so many of us have bought the idea that statins are magic. It is doubtful that statins have anti-inflammatory effects preventing heart disease.
HOW LOW IS TOO LOW?
All the drug companies are on the march with new drugs to lower your cholesterol, telling you: “You can’t have too low a cholesterol”. You will be prescribed many more drugs to lower your LDL and empty your pocket book. Studies now show that adding other cholesterol lowering drugs that lower LDL below 120 did not lead to healthier arteries, but raised the risk of cancer.
The Journal of Cardiac Failure (on an analysis of 1,134 patients with heart disease) showed that low cholesterol was associated with worse outcomes in heart failure patients and impaired survival rates. It also showed that elevated cholesterol was not associated with hypertension, diabetes or coronary heart disease.
Back in 1994, the American Heart Association Task Force on Cholesterol Issues put out a statement entitled "Very Low Cholesterol and Cholesterol Lowering", which noted: There is an increase in deaths from trauma, cancer, hemorrhagic stroke and respiratory and infectious diseases among those with total cholesterol levels less than 160 mg/dl.
Very low cholesterol is associated with: dementia, depression, moodiness, aggressive behavior, violence, and decreased learning ability and intelligence. It is also a risk factor for cancer and increased mortality from cancer, infections and suicide.
Psyllium, a soluble fiber from flax seeds found in Metamucil, reduces total cholesterol 15%. Fish oil stabilizes the electrical activity of the heart and also lowers cholesterol. Niacin lowers blood fats, reduces LDL, and total cholesterol by up to 20%.
Stop eating red meat, with its high fat and cholesterol content, certainly helps. Meat protein is broken down into an amino acid, homocysteine that is linked to heart attacks and strokes.
Vitamins B6 and folic acid, found in vegetables, also lowers will lower your homocysteine levels.
Spend some time boosting your HDL. Walk or do any physical activity for 30 minutes a day, and consume healthy fats such as those in olive oil, fish, walnuts, or DHA omega-3 supplements.
SAFETY OF STATINS
Statins work by reducing the amount of cholesterol in the body by blocking an enzyme in the body that is involved in the production of bad cholesterol.
Twenty-one years ago, the FDA approved the first statin drugs to lower LDL. 18-year-old kids killed in the Korean War already had plaque build up that really started when they were children. But is there a missing link, called inflammation that may be the high risk factor?
Statin side effects include: increases in colon and breast cancers, gallstones, gastritis, heart attacks, constipation, liver disease, stomach ulcers, anemia, kills taste and smell, visual troubles, dizziness, angina, heart rhythm problems, phlebitis, suicides and homicides.
Statins deplete CoQ10, an important co enzyme for cardiac health. Since the real cause of heart disease is oxidative damage and inflammation, lowering CoQ10 can actually increase your risk of dying of heart disease. A very serious side effect of statins is their tendency to cause inflammation of the muscles and create muscle damage. The inflammation makes the muscles painful.
Before you take statin drugs to reduce your cholesterol, do a little research on the dangers of low cholesterol. There are other ways of protecting yourself from heart disease that are much more effective.
If you are taking statins, you need to also take other measures to lower your cholesterol. Statin drugs limit the production of cholesterol but it does not limit the intake of cholesterol. Statins can often give you the impression that you do not need to take any other measures to lower cholesterol. NOT SO!.
Continuing to eat high cholesterol foods defeats the purpose of taking the statin drugs. When getting cholesterol blood tests, ask also for homocysteine and CRP levels: they may tell you more about your heart risk than the LDL.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist what cholesterol lowering drugs they take. The answer will probably be: “None. I only sell or prescribe them to you!”
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