January 2008 saw some surprising news in the mainstream press. It may be
that 2008 will be remembered as the year the high cholesterol tune began
to change and the old mantras began to give way to a more accurate understanding
of heart disease.
In January, 2008, the
New York Times reported: 
“For decades, the theory that lowering cholesterol is always beneficial
has been a core principle of cardiology. It has been accepted by doctors
and used by drug makers to win quick approval for new medicines to reduce
“But now some prominent cardiologists say the results of two recent
clinical trials have raised serious questions about that theory…
“Because the link between excessive LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular
disease has been so widely accepted, the FDA generally has not required
drug companies to prove that cholesterol medicines actually reduce heart
attacks before approval….”
The January 17th, 2008 cover story of
Business Week also openly questioned the high cholesterol issue: 
“People like to have a metric, such as cholesterol levels, that can
be monitored and altered. ‘Once you tell people a number, they will
be fixated on the number and try to get it better,’ says University
of Texas’ Dr. Howard Brody. Moreover, ‘the American cultural
norm is that doing something makes us feel better than just watching and
waiting,’ says Brody. That applies to doctors as well. They are
being pushed by the national guidelines, by patients’ own requests,
and by pay-for- performance rules that reward physicians for checking
and reducing cholesterol. ‘I bought into it,’ Brody says.
Not to do so is almost impossible, he adds. ‘If a physician suggested
not checking a cholesterol level, many patients would stomp out of the
office claiming the guy was a quack.’
“Yet Brody changed his mind. ‘I now see it as myth that everyone
should have their cholesterol checked,” he says. ‘In hindsight
it was obvious. Duh! Why didn’t I see it before?’ “
IT STARTED WITH RABBITS
The idea that cholesterol causes coronary heart disease started in the
early 1900’s when extremely high amounts of dietary cholesterol
were fed to rabbits. Their blood cholesterol rose twenty-fold and a soft
plaque like substance formed on the coronary arteries. Cholesterol levels
returned to normal and the plaque disappeared when the feeding was stopped.
In the early 1950s autopsies were done on heart attack victims and their
arteries were found clogged with plaques containing high concentrations
of cholesterol. And among servicemen who died in battle in Korea and Vietnam,
more than 75 percent were found to have hardening and narrowing of the
arteries. More evidence that cholesterol causes
In the late 1950’s, Ancel Keys proposed that the more saturated fat
you ate, the higher your cholesterol. This gave birth to the “lipid
theory” that dietary cholesterol is downright dangerous because
it directly causes atherosclerosis. Based on this idea, people were told
for decades to eat a low fat diet and to embrace “heart-healthy”
vegetables oils, despite the fact most were hydrogenated. A time-honored
breakfast of steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy was now described as “a
heart attack on a plate.”
Yet despite increased sales of margarine and corn oil, rates of heart disease
continued to climb. The death rate from heart disease in the United States
began increasing early in the twentieth century, and it reached its peak
Look again at those rabbits. They were given a synthetic form of cholesterol
oxidized when exposed to air. Oxidation makes cholesterol toxic to the body. Rabbits
also do not metabolize cholesterol as do humans.
What might have accounted for atherosclerosis in American servicemen? The
water given to servicemen was so
heavily chlorinated it was virtually undrinkable. Chlorine is a powerful oxidizing agent that
is capable of causing severe damage to blood vessels. There are few, if
any communities around the world with chlorinated drinking water that
have a low incidence of atherosclerosis. In animal studies, chlorine has
been found to promote the development of atherosclerosis.
What of Ancel Keyes’ findings? His data was seriously
flawed. Probably the most painstaking analyses of the Keyes data was published
in 2001 in a book entitled
The Cholesterol Myth by Dr. Uffe Ravnskov.
“People with high cholesterol live the longest. This statement seems
so incredible that it takes a long time to clear one´s brainwashed
mind to fully understand its importance. Yet the fact that people with
high cholesterol live the longest emerges clearly from many scientific
For many years, researchers uncovered - and published - evidence that ran
contrary to the “saturated fat and high cholesterol will kill you”
mantra. For example, in 1994, Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of
Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University reported that old people with
low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did old people
with high cholesterol. 
THE HERD MENTALITY
But that kind of finding didn’t make the evening news. Instead, the
high cholesterol myth kept going and going and going like the Energizer
Here’s an inside look at how things sounded in the 1980s from Mary
Enig, a world renowned expert on fats (lipids) and oils who researches
and lectures extensively: 
“The 1984 Cholesterol Consensus Conference final report [contained]
no mention of the large body of evidence that conflicted with the lipid
hypothesis. One of the blanks was filled with the number 200. The document
defined all those with cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL as ‘at
risk’ and called for mass cholesterol screening, even though the
most ardent supporters of the lipid hypothesis had surmised in print that
240 should be the magic cutoff point. Such screening would, in fact, need
to be carried out on a massive scale [because] the federal medical bureaucracy,
by picking the number 200, had defined the vast majority of the American
adult population as ‘at risk.’
“The Consensus Conference also provided a launching pad for the nationwide
National Cholesterol Education Program, which had the stated goal of “changing
physicians’ attitudes.” NHLBI-funded studies had determined
that while the general population had bought into the lipid hypotheses,
and was dutifully using margarine and buying low-cholesterol foods, the
medical profession remained skeptical. A large “Physicians Kit”
was sent to all doctors in America, compiled in part by the American Pharmaceutical
Association, whose representatives served on the NCEP coordinating committee.
Doctors were taught the importance of cholesterol screening, the advantages
of cholesterol-lowering drugs and the unique benefits of the Prudent Diet.
NCEP materials told every doctor in America to recommend the use of margarine
rather than butter.”
In 1988, the American Medical Association’s Executive Vice-President,
Dr. James Sammons, promised physicians of their financial rewards stating,
“The AMA’s campaign against cholesterol will bring both old
and new patients to you for necessary testing, counseling and care.” 
And many doctors took it to heart.
“… the current cholesterol campaign represents a rare concordance
of interests on the part of many constituencies. … Physicians will
benefit because they will be providing better medical care to their patients
and incidentally will have a new and expanded market of patients for preventive
medical care. The pharmaceutical industry will benefit from the greatly
expanded market for cholesterol lowering drugs that will result from even
the most careful application of the guidelines on a national scale. The
public will benefit from reductions in coronary risk…” 
Ah, the silver bullet theory of medicine. A simple, convenient pill will
Dr. Uffe Ravnskov put that in perspective: “Proponents claim that if we had a drug that could lower blood cholesterol
sufficiently without any serious side effects, we could prevent or at
least delay all disease caused by atherosclerosis.
This is a dream come true for doctors. All that’s necessary to prevent
heart disease is a prescription pad and a gadget for measuring cholesterol–and
no time-consuming fuss with diet counseling.
And what a bonanza for the drug producers! A lifetime lowering of cholesterol
with expensive drugs in a substantial proportion of the population.”
Dr. Daniel Steinberg, a cholesterol researcher at the University of California
in San Diego who headed a federally sponsored panel that recommended lowering
cholesterol for the nation, wondered what critics expected policy planners
to do. In 1989 he told the New York Times: 
“We could have said, ‘We don’t have the data, so don’t
do anything about cholesterol’. Meanwhile people are dying of heart
attacks at the rate of 500,000 a year. We would have felt derelict if
we had not made the recommendation.”
In 2004, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommended that those
“at risk” of cardiovascular events decrease their LDL levels
to between 70 and 100 mg/dl.
The following year, sales of statin drugs ballooned 46% to over $22 billion.
“But besides real diseases, we are subject to many that are only
imaginary, for which the physicians have invented imaginary cures; these
have several names, and so have the drugs that are proper for them.” – Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
CAUGHT AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
Imagine your home security alarm system goes off, police respond. You arrive,
determine you have been robbed - and blame the police officers still at
That is basically what happened to cholesterol.
Cholesterol is used by the body as a raw material for the healing process.
When lesions are formed in arterial walls, LDL is dispatched to the site
carrying cholesterol to mend the lesion and restore the waterproof feature
to prevent clotting within the blood vessel. Serious damage to arteries
can cause high amounts of cholesterol in a blockage due to the amount
of cholesterol necessary to heal the lesions. This is why cholesterol
has been associated with blockage of arteries. Cholesterol buildup may
be part of the mechanism of blockages, but it is not the cause of the
coronary disease resulting in blockages. High cholesterol is not necessarily
the direct cause but may only be a marker of inflammation.
So, if you have a lot of arterial plaque, a lot of lesions - if you have
high cholesterol, why might that be?
FREE RADICALS COMMITTED THE CRIME
Free radicals are unpaired electrons looking for a mate. They roam your
body like a burglar looking to steal electrons from tissues. They are
part of the body’s immune mechanism that kills viruses and bacteria,
and detroys toxins. An excess of them can cause tears and irritation in
the artery walls. Excess free radicals are generated by the detoxification
of environmental toxins like cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust, and insecticides.
Free radicals are also generated by what we eat like sugar, preservatives,
aspartame, and trans-fats.
We ingest free radicals when we eat foods prepared with processed vegetable
oils - French fries, fried food, non-fat dried milk and homogenized milk
, powdered or liquid coffee creamer, most salad dressings, crackers,
cookies, chips, and a plethora of other processed and convenience foods.
Margarine, heavily promoted since the 1940s, is a tub of lethal trans
fats. As some put it, we’ve been poisoning ourselves with vegetable
oils, which mankind never ate in great quantity before.
Processed vegetable oils have an unstable chemical structure. They are
a free radical waiting to happen. When free radicals come in contact with
the blood vessel, they cause lesions and that triggers inflammation. LDL
cholesterol molecules are dispatched to the scene to repair the lesion
and stop the inflammation.
Free radicals, however, are not the only reason for arterial plaque and
lesions. There likely were lots of other “accomplices to the crime.”
Here are a few:
During the 1960s Dr. Joseph Price wanted to know why cardiovascular heart
disease, such as heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis, had become
so prevalent when prior to 1900 it was virtually non-existent. His search
led him to chlorine. 
Dr. Price reported that the Japanese people, who have a heart attack rate
one-sixth that of the United States, develop atherosclerosis when they
move to Hawaii and drink chlorinated water. When the Japanese were rebuilding
their cities after WWI, they installed water purification systems using
chlorine recommended by American engineers. Prior to this time they had
never used it. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese medical community began
to notice that the Japanese people were starting to have a lot of heart
attacks. Their investigation led them to chlorine as the source of the
causative factor. They discontinued the use of chlorine.
Chlorination of water supplies first began in 1908 in the United States,
but it wasn’t until 10 to 20 years later that heart attacks first
began to increase. That’s because unlike the soldiers in the Korean
and Vietnam Wars who drank very high concentrations of chlorinated water,
causing a faster rate of developing plaques on the blood vessel walls
within a year or less, the public water supplies had much lower amounts
which produced a slower rate of developing plaques over a 10 to 20 year period.
(It is also interesting to note that women with breast cancer have been
found to have 50 to 60% more organochlorines in their breast tissue than
women without breast cancer.  Does this reflect absorption of pesticides?
Creation of organochlorine compound within the breast tissue itself because
of high chlorine levels in the water? We can only speculate.)
(2) Vegetable oils
The dietary use of vegetable oils became widespread in America in the 1930s,
about the same time atherosclerotic heart disease began to climb.
Butter consumption was declining while the use of vegetable oils, especially
oils that had been hardened to resemble butter by a process called hydrogenation,
was dramatically increasing. By 1950 butter consumption had dropped from
eighteen pounds per person per year to just over ten. Margarine filled
in the gap, rising from about two pounds per person at the turn of the
century to about eight. Vegetable oil consumption had more than tripled
- from just less than three pounds per person per year to more than ten. 
By 1950, coronary heart disease was the leading source of mortality in
the United States, causing more than 30% of all deaths. What’s wrong
with vegetable oils? This summary is from renowned researchers Russell
Smith and Edward Pinckney: 
Diets high in polyunsaturates:
- Are highly subject to rancidity, and so they increase the body’s
need for vitamin E and other antioxidants.
- Are damaging to the reproductive organs and the lungs - both of which are
sites for huge increases in cancer in the US.
- In test animals, inhibit the ability to learn, especially under conditions
- Are toxic to the liver.
- Compromise the integrity of the immune system.
- Depress the mental and physical growth of infants.
- Increase levels of uric acid in the blood.
- Cause abnormal fatty acid profiles in the adipose tissues.
- Are linked to mental decline and chromosomal damage.
- Will accelerate aging.
- Are associated with increasing rates of cancer, heart disease and weight gain.
- Interferes with the production of prostaglandins leading to an array of
complaints ranging from autoimmune disease to PMS. Disruption of prostaglandin
production leads to an increased tendency to form blood clots, and hence
myocardial infarction, which has reached epidemic levels in America.
Not only do corn and soy oils provide the oxidized fats that cause heart
disease, they raise cholesterol levels in the process. 
(3) Low thyroid
Since the 1930’s, it has been clearly established that suppression
of the thyroid raises serum cholesterol while increasing mortality from
infections, cancer, and heart disease. Restoring thyroid function brings
cholesterol down to normal. When thyroid function is poor, usually
due to a diet high in sugar and low in usable iodine, fat-soluble vitamins
and other nutrients, the body floods the blood with cholesterol as an
adaptive and protective mechanism, providing a superabundance of materials
needed to heal tissues and produce protective steroids. It is thought
that the majority of Americans now have low thyroid levels. Part of
that is because so much non-organic commercially produced bread since
the 1980s contains bromide as a dough conditioner; bromide is a chemical
cousin to chlorine. Bromide and chlorine suppress the uptake of iodine,
an essential nutrient for optimal thyroid function. Corn oil and soybean
oil also suppress thyroid function.
(4) Lack of Sunshine
Sunlight lowers cholesterol levels. Since the 1980s, we’ve been subject
to an erroneous public relations campaign to stay out of the sun for fear
of skin cancer. Sunlight converts the cholesterol on your skin to hormone
precursors which are used to make steroid hormones like vitamin D. The
cholesterol in your bloodstream then migrates to the surface of the skin,
to replace the cholesterol that was converted. Staying out of the sun
and routine use of sunscreens is an invitation to increased cholesterol
(5) Lack of Vitamin C
Dr. Linus Pauling met Dr. Matthias Rath, a German cardiologist, in July
of 1983 at a Nobel Laureates meeting in Germany. Dr. Rath shared with
Dr. Pauling his hunch that if you were low in vitamin C you produced more
LDL cholesterol. The reverse is also true; if you have more vitamin C,
you produce less LDL cholesterol. Atherosclerosis appears to be a defensive
mechanism so we don’t bleed to death from scurvy - scurvy weakens
blood vessels. Instead, we die later from heart disease. The formation
of cholesterol plaques is the body’s way of “patching”
the vessel walls, weakened by a deficiency of vitamin C, zinc, copper
and magnesium. 
Vitamin C is also the recycler of vitamin E which shields cells, fats,
cholesterol and LDL from oxidation. Vitamin E is also a potent stimulant
for production of prostanoids which dilate the arteries. Long-term or
periodically low vitamin C weakens the connective tissue (made of collagen,
elastin and ‘cartilage proteo-glycans’) which then allows
blood to enter the artery walls, thickening and hardening them with repair
and clotting materials, with calcium and with cholesterol crystals. Muscle
cells then multiply inside the connective tissue to strengthen the wall.
Such thickened artery walls increase the risk for stroke and heart disease. 
Some of those hormones made by cholesterol are the ones that help you handle
stress. The more stress you have, the more corticosteroid hormones you
need. When you lower cholesterol with drugs, you get more stress-related
problems. High cholesterol in young and middle-aged men could, for instance,
reflect the body’s need for more cholesterol because cholesterol
is the building material of many stress hormones. Any possible protective
effect of high cholesterol may therefore be counteracted by the negative
influence of the artificially lowered levels of cholesterol on the vascular system.
For many years scientists have suspected that viruses and bacteria, in
particular cytomegalovirus and
Chlamydia pneumonia (also named TWAR bacteria, Taiwan Acute Respiratory Agent) participate
in the development of atherosclerosis.
The role of infections in chronic heart failure has been studied by Dr.
Mathias Rauchhaus of Martin-Luther-University in Halle, Germany. His research
team found that the strongest predictor of death for patients with chronic
heart failure was the concentration of
cytokines in the blood, in particular in patients with heart failure due to coronary
heart disease. To explain their finding they suggested that bacteria
from the gut may more easily penetrate into the tissues when the pressure
in the abdominal veins is increased because of heart failure. In accordance
with this theory, they found more
endotoxin in the blood of patients with congestive heart failure and edema than
in patients with non-congestive heart failure without edema, and endotoxin
concentrations decreased significantly when the heart’s function
was improved by medical treatment. 
“Saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet are not the cause of coronary
heart disease. That myth is the greatest scientific deception of this
century, perhaps of any century.” – George V. Mann, M.D., professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at
“Both the public and clinical physicians have simultaneously been
swamped by an ever-growing tidal wave of exaggerations, distortions and
even fabrications of the facts.” – Russell L. Smith, PhD, author of “The Cholesterol Conspiracy”
STATIN DRUGS - BRING ‘EM ON
Statin drugs, which promise to lower cholesterol, are the best selling
drugs on the market.
It looks more and more as though the anti-inflammatory effects of statins
may be the main source of their cardiac benefits, rather than their ability
to lower cholesterol. Atheroscleosis is fundamentally an inflammatory disease.
“What the shrewd marketing people at Pfizer and the other companies
did was spin it to make everyone with high cholesterol think they really
need to reduce it,” says Dr. Bryan A. Liang, director of the Institute
of Health Law Studies at the California Western School of Law and co-director
of the San Diego Center for Patient Safety. “It was pseudo-science,
never telling you the bottom-line truth, [which is] that the drugs don’t
help unless you have pre-existing cardiovascular disease.” The marketing
worked, Liang says, “even in the face of studies and people screaming
and yelling, myself included, that it is not based on evidence.” 
An estimated 25 million Americans take Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, Pravachol,
Mevacor and other statin drugs at the constant urging and heavy pressure
of the mainstream medical establishment. Crestor, which is not available
as a generic drug, costs about $3.45 per day, for example.
Muscle pain and weakness are common side effects of statin drugs. The JUPITER
clinical trials first linked an increase in diabetes to Crestor; a 2010
analysis of statin clinical trials suggests that increased diabetes risk
is linked to
Additionally, we have conclusive evidence of statins’ profoundly
destructive impact on the brain. A U.C. San Diego study found statins
can provoke symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s.  And no wonder.
Cholesterol is crucial to brain function. It protects nerve cells and
literally speeds up your brain’s operation in all areas, including
your thought processes, recall, and speech. It’s also the building
block for synapses, the areas between nerve cells that transmit messages.
Some of the study’s subjects reported memory loss to the point where
they couldn’t recognize people they’d known for decades. Others
found that statins had stripped them of their ability to concentrate,
work, think clearly or even talk.
A February, 2008 column in the Wall Street Journal underscores the concern:
“Cognitive side effects like memory loss and fuzzy thinking aren’t
listed on the patient information sheet for Lipitor … [but] some
doctors theorize that lowering cholesterol would slow the connections
that facilitate thought and memory. … ‘This drug makes women
stupid,’ Oril Etingin, vice-chairman of medicine at New York Presbyterian
Hospital, declared … Anecdotes linking statins to memory problems
have been rampant for years.” 
Yet, the makers of
Lipitor initiated an aggressive campaign to get doctors to prescribe the maximum dose.
Statin use may lead to cancer. Cholesterol-lowering drugs cause cancer
in rodents at the equivalent doses used by man.[26A] The extrapolation
of evidence of cancer from rodent to human is very uncertain. This is
the argument of those in favor of using cholesterol-lowering drugs. However,
evidence from the cholesterol-lowering drug trial known as CARE (Cholesterol
And Recurrent Events) showed that Pravachol (a cholesterol-lowering drug
made by Bristol-Myers Squibb) caused a 1500% increase in breast cancer
among women taking it. An increase in cancer rates among Pravachol users
was also shown in the drug trial known as PROSPER. Many feel this side
effect continues to fly below the radar because cancer typically takes
a long time to develop and most of the statin trials do not go on longer
than two or three years.
A 2008 paper published in the
American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs cites nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of statins.[26B]
In 2010, a research paper in the
British Medical Journal warned doctors to think more carefully about prescribing cholesterol-lowering
drugs because of their wide range of “unintended” side effects
that include liver problems, kidney failure, muscle failure, and cataracts. [26C]
Also in 2010, researchers re-examined the extremely influential JUPITER
trial and found it was both flawed and biased - nine of 14 authors of
the JUPITER trial had financial relationships with AstraZeneca, which
sponsored the trial. The JUPITER trial basically said that if you give
people who have not yet had heart trouble 20 mg of a statin drug, you
will see a 44% reduction in nonfatal heart attacks and strokes, and confirmed
death from cardiovascular causes. But when researchers re-examined the
JUPITER data, they found no evidence of the “striking decrease in
coronary heart disease complications” reported in the trial. “The
results of the trial do not support the use of statin treatment for primary
prevention of cardiovascular diseases and raise troubling questions concerning
the role of commercial sponsors,” the authors wrote.
But most of all, why lower cholesterol by force when it is not the cause
of heart disease?
CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT
Cholesterol is something humans simply need – a lot.
Mother’s milk contains a high ratio of cholesterol. It is critical
for proper brain development of fetuses and growing children. Women in
China have a tradition of eating perhaps 30 eggs a day when they are pregnant
so they will have healthy, smart babies.
During puberty, the brain sprouts all sorts of new nerve cells. These cells
have to make connections with each other, and the body needs the right
kind of fats and cholesterol to do this.
Cholesterol is “the mother of all hormones.” It is the precursor
to all steroid hormones, including mineralcorticoids, glucocorticoids,
and sex hormones. Thus cholesterol is a major player in athletic performance,
regulating blood sugar, controlling blood pressure, regulating mineral
balance, maintaining libido, building muscle mass, and more.
It is also the raw material from which vitamin D and CoQ-10 are made. Vitamin
D boosts the immune system and protects us from cancer; CoQ-10 acts like
the catalytic converter in the mitochondria, removing excessive free electrons
(the cellular) from the energy factory line.
All living creatures use cholesterol to make cells waterproof, a mechanism
vital for proper function. The fact that cells are waterproof is especially
critical for normal functioning of nerves and nerve cells. Thus, the highest
concentration of cholesterol in the body is found in the brain and other
parts of the nervous system.
Cholesterol forms 50 percent of the nervous system. A deficiency of cholesterol
results in fatigue, obesity, nervous and emotional disturbances, digestive
difficulties, impotence or inability to conceive and/or complete a pregnancy,
menstrual syndromes and masculine traits in women, effeminate traits in
men, blood pressure irregularities, fluid imbalances, nutritional deficits
and imbalances, and more. 
In addition to acting like the body’s ever-ready band aid for arterial lesions,
cholesterol is a potent antioxidant. It scavenges free radicals. It is flooded into the bloodstream when we
take in too many harmful free-radicals – usually from damaged and
rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils. This is
the likely explanation for the fact that cholesterol levels go up with
age. As an antioxidant, cholesterol protects us against free radical damage
that leads to heart disease and cancer. 
Researchers at Texas A&M University find that lower cholesterol levels
result in reduced muscle mass among older adults engaging in resistance
exercise. Cholesterol serves as an essential building block for repair
of the “micro-tears” that occur in muscle membranes stressed
by exercise. 
Those who have very low levels of cholesterol had a greater incidence of
cancer while those with very high cholesterol suffered more heart attacks. 
You’ll find about 5 ounces of cholesterol in the average person.
Approximately 7 percent of that, or one tablespoon, circulates in the
blood. The less cholesterol comes from food, the more the body produces.
Adults probably absorb only about 25 percent of the cholesterol they consume.
Cholesterol is not water-soluble so it needs to travel through the bloodstream
in little round orbs made of protein and fats called lipoproteins. These
lipoproteins are categorized according to their density.
HDL means a High Density Lipoprotein and LDL means a Low Density Lipoprotein.
HDL carries cholesterol to the liver from body tissues. LDL carries cholesterol
away from the liver, where it is produced, to tissues including blood
Cholesterol is just one of the risk factors for heart disease. Dr. Ronald
M. Krauss, director of atherosclerosis research at the Oakland Research
Institute, explained that higher LDL levels do help set the stage for
heart disease by contributing to the buildup of plaque in arteries. But
something else has to happen before people get heart disease. “When
you look at patients with heart disease, their cholesterol levels are
not that [much] higher than those without heart disease,” he says.
Compare countries, for example. Spaniards have LDL levels similar to Americans’,
but less than half the rate of heart disease. The Swiss have even higher
cholesterol levels, but their rates of heart disease are also lower. Australian
aborigines have low cholesterol but high rates of heart disease. 
Along with cholesterol, saturated fat has also been wrongly blamed for
heart disease. The “lipid hypothesis” said saturated fat and
cholesterol from animal sources raise cholesterol levels in the blood,
leading to deposition of cholesterol and fatty material as pathogenic
plaques in the arteries.
Saturated fat was a mainstay of mankind’s diet for tens of thousands
of years; atherosclerosis was not a problem until just recently. This
part of the story has been well documented with research over the years,
but still has not broken through the mainstream news barrier. Heart disease
is unknown today among the Eskimos who eat their traditional diet, primarily
blubber. Heart disease is unknown today among the Masai of Africa who
eat their traditional diet, primarily milk and meat, a diet rich in cholesterol
and saturated fat. George Mann’s independent studies of the Masai
in Africa, had convinced him that the lipid hypothesis was “the
public health diversion of this century … hundreds of millions
of tax dollars are wasted by the bureaucracy and the self-interested Heart
In the early 1900s, half of all Americans lived on farms and ate lots of
meats, raw whole milk, cream, butter, and eggs.
Heart attacks were rare.
But the nature of saturated fat has been changed by modern farming methods
into a form which is unhealthy for the structure of the cell wall. Saturated
fat has no strong links with disease, while industrially produced trans fats do.
Salmon and Red Meat in our library to see what is different about the saturated fat we find
in the modern grocery store and the role that plays in human health.
ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION?
Millions of people have had their cholesterol levels tested, but only a
tiny fraction ask about their triglycerides or understand why high triglycerides
levels warrant more attention than high cholesterol levels. Why are most
people - and many doctors - in the dark about triglycerides? Perhaps because
there is no drug that effectively lowers triglycerides, the amount of
fat circulating in the bloodstream.
When you eat, your body uses the calories it needs for quick energy. Excess
calories are stored as fat regardless of what kind of food you eat - fat,
carbohydrate, or protein. If you regularly eat more calories than you
burn, you may have high triglycerides.
Also, kidney disease, obesity, and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
may cause high triglycerides. Alcohol and sugar have a particularly strong
effect on triglycerides.
In normal amounts, triglycerides are important to good health. When triglyceride
levels are high, it is not clear whether these high levels directly increase
your risk for heart disease. But high triglycerides are often part of
a group of conditions called
An elevated triglyceride blood level in and of itself is a strong and independent
risk factor for heart attack among middle-aged and elderly men. In fact,
studies have shown that blood triglyceride level was a stronger risk factor
than total cholesterol alone. It is not known why women appear to be immune
to this other than postulations that the high level of estrogen acts as
a protective factor.
- There are two main lipids found in the blood, cholesterol and triglycerides.
- A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
according to the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines.
- When triglyceride levels reach 200 mg/dL, coronary artery disease risk doubles
- Heart disease risk is considerably higher among women than men when triglyceride
levels top 200 mg/dL
- Individuals with high triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia) may develop
numerous pimple-like lesions across their body. Extremely high levels
of triglycerides may also result in kidney disease and pancreatitis -
a severe inflammation of the pancreas that may be life-threatening.
- Sepsis, a life-threatening condition caused by bacterial growth in the
blood, is associated with a high level of triglycerides. The high level
of triglycerides seen in sepsis is a normal immune response to infection. 
Triglyceride levels are strongly influenced by diet. While cholesterol
levels remain pretty constant over a month or so and aren’t terribly
affected by meals, triglycerides respond quickly to a meal, particularly
one with a lot of fat, sugar, or alcohol.
There are two ways to control triglycerides: 1) Exercise regularly, and
2) eat a balanced diet that’s low in sugar, simple carbohydrates,
and processed foods.
PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE
Drugs induce a false sense of security. You might force the body to stop
making cholesterol, but, do you really want to? When you stop the manufacture
of cholesterol, you also stop the manufacture of Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10)
which is crucial for function of the cell’s energy factories known
as mitochondria. This is one explanation for the muscle fatigue, muscle
pain and congestive heart failure which can develop as a “side effect”
of lipid-lowering drugs.
And drugs don’t address the ongoing “poisoning” of the
system by bad foods and environmental toxins.
How to prevent arterial lesions and the resulting inflammation? Here is
our Top Ten List:
Come to terms with the
sugar habit. Sugar increases triglyceride storage and cellular oxidative damage.
This assaults the vascular wall, leading to micro-leakages in the endothelial
wall of blood vessels, leading to the self-repair mechanism of cholesterol.
In medical lingo, sugar is a significant contributory factor of oxidative
stress. Cuba for example has one of the highest levels of sugar use, and
has a higher death rate from heart attacks in men between ages 55 and
64 than the U.S. 
Think in terms of what causes free radicals. The short list of what to
trans fats, refined and
food additives and preservatives, cigarette smoke, chlorine, and pesticides.
- If you feel the need to lower serum cholesterol, bypass fruit juices. Eat
the whole fruit with its pectin and fiber.
- Increase your intake of vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid which can reduce
levels of homocysteine, which damages the arteries and set the stage for
disease. Fish oil helps curb inflammation, a most significant risk factor
for heart attack. Increase your intake of vitamins C and E which neutralize
free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol.
Stick with unrefined olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, and butter. Avoid
trans fats like the plague.
- Feed your thyroid. Coconut oil has wonderful antimicrobial properties,
and it stimulates your metabolism and increases thyroid function. Buy
organic breads that do not use bromide. Use honest-to-goodness sea salt
for its mineral content, including absorbable iodine; minerals influence
- Increase your exposure to sunlight. Your body needs about 15 minutes a
day (without sunscreen and in a bikini bathing suit) to make enough vitamin D.
- Bypass “low-fat” milks” because non-fat dried milk is
added to 1% and 2% milk. Unlike the cholesterol in fresh milk, which plays
a variety of health promoting roles, the cholesterol in non-fat dried
milk is oxidized and it is this rancid cholesterol that promotes heart disease.
- Reduce systemic inflammation by searching out the triggers - allergies,
leaky gut, and toxicities like chemicals and heavy metals.
- Laugh more, stress less.
At the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine, we find the majority of people
are deficient in iodine and Vitamin D. We recommend measurement of these
substances, as well as lipid profiles, thyroid function and several blood
chemistries at our initial evaluation.
Many people come to us with stated goals to lower cholesterol levels. There
are indeed supplements which can be given in large, so-called pharmacologic
doses, which will lower serum cholesterol. However, we take the issue
a step farther. Rather than simply lowering the cholesterol levels, we
evaluate the whole person, to determine the source of their high inflammatory
state - whether dietary, environmental allergies, toxicities, heavy metals…
Once the source is identified, we utilize the appropriate therapies to
treat the cause of the inflammation.
Our nutritional program, called
Therapy™, is essential, to help people kick the sugar habit and migrate toward
a diet that lessens inflammation overall in the body.
IV nutritional therapies if the person is unable to absorb what they need because of an unhealthy gut.
Intravenous vitamin C is excellent for reducing free radicals. We treat heavy metal toxicity with
chelation if indicated. We determine
allergies (food, pollen, chemical, etc) and treat those, to lessen the overall burden
of inflammation and toxicity in the body.
Yes, treating abnormalities of blood chemistry requires effort and takes
time. But the end result is worth it - a healthy lifestyle, a longer and
healthier life… healthy old age… what could be better?
INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO READ MORECholesterol Facts & Fantasies
by Judith A. DeCava, CNC, LNC
Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife
2004, revised edition
Eat Fat, Look Thin
By Bruce fife, ND
Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of
Fats, Oils and Cholesterol
by Mary G. Enig
The Cholesterol Conspiracy
by Russell L. Smith, Edward R. Pinckney
These references are available online:
The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS)
Weston A. Price Foundation
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except among high-risk heart patients, the benefits of statins such as
Lipitor are overstated. Business Week, January 17, 2008
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Letter for Doctors and Patients, May 2003
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