Cholesterol Another View Point
By Dr. K. Shane Neifert
The wave of drug lowering cholesterol commercials in the media lately has been a large one. If I were a drug representative for the company it would be “surfs up dude”. Riding the wave of popularity can be very lucrative. As recent patients have come in and asked about their elevated cholesterol. I have been reviewing lately the past research and rational for lowering cholesterol. The more I read, the more I realize it really is all about money. Heath is not the reason for the meds to lower cholesterol. Let’s go over some facts.
The liver makes cholesterol. Your brain is directing your liver to manufacture the amount of cholesterol you have to make for hormones. The amount of cholesterol you consume has very little to do with how high your blood cholesterol level is. Your liver will make cholesterol from fats, sugars, and proteins (in other words anything you eat). Some foods (polyunsaturated oils) actually lower cholesterol, and cause other side affects that may be very harmful to us. These may be increased atherosclerosis and cancer. Another interesting fact is that low cholesterol is indicated in cancer. This perplexed many researchers. Yet time and again as the population studies were evaluated they showed that years before the cancer was detected the patient’s cholesterol was low.
The cholesterol found in association with atherosclerosis plaque is oxidized, not the normal reduced variety that your liver makes. Polyunsaturated oils (such as common vegetable oils) are trans fatty acids that go rancid and oxidize and attack the cholesterol. This changes the cholesterol from a friend to a foe. It will now attach to the lining with the oxidized fatty acids of the heart vessels and be implicated in heart disease. Guilty by association. Just because you saw the robbery doesn’t mean you robbed the bank. Butter is better to cook and eat with than polyunsaturated fats. Eat is more often.
People who die from heart disease have high and low cholesterol. The level of cholesterol is largely independent of the degree of heart disease (they are not connected). Lowering your cholesterol level will not increase your life span. Lowering your polyunsaturated fats, meat consumption (to reduce iron and homocysteine) while increasing your fresh vegetable, water, and whole grain intake will directly affect your level of heart disease. Exercise is also an essential part of heart maintenance.
There are social not genetic reasons for the majority heart disease. Population studies bear this out. As soon as the Japanese natives (who have very low heart trouble historically) move to the USA and adopt our lifestyle they too die just like we do of heart attacks.
You must ask your self – Who stands to make money on a theory of elevated cholesterol that may not be accurate? Drug companies stand to make billions of dollars on the concept that we must lower our cholesterol. Ignoring the facts and numerous studies has been very profitable for the drug companies. The sad truth may be that even though the patients on cholesterol lowering meds may be paying out in more costs for their prescriptions they are paying more in terms of their liver function. Almost all medications have liver side affects. Patients usually are required to have their liver enzymes evaluated several times a year to determine if the medication they are on is doing significant damage yet.
My recommendations are to read the overall history of cholesterol. There are several good books. One of my favorites is by Bruce Fife “Saturated Fat May Save your Life” he has a wonderful summery of the progress and background of the cholesterol problem. Another good book is “Heart Frauds: the Misapplication of Technology in Heart Disease”. A great overview and history is found in the Atlantic Month article “Cholesterol Myth” Sept 1989. Weston Price Foundation also has good information to pass on about fats and heart disease, their information may be found on the Internet.
My suggestions are to leave your cholesterol levels alone. At best it is a risk factor not a cause. Use good judgement in eating, exercising, sleep, and other lifestyle choices. Choose to be happy, see more comedies. Get some fresh air. Tell more people you love them.