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High Cholesterol and its benefits
Our friend, Mother Nature
So how can high cholesterol be good for us? Well, it may sound surprising but maybe it shouldn't be - Mother Nature is out to protect us after all. Here's how she does it:
Through breast milk - a mother's milk is a cholesterol bomb and yet breastfed babies are healthy, happy little things. This isn't really surprising as the body needs cholesterol - cells produce it if it's lacking and the brain is made up of 10-20% cholesterol (dry substance) and will require it.
By protecting us against infections - various research has shown that people with high cholesterol have a much lower chance of getting infections and even of contracting HIV.
By giving us a warning nudge - according to Dr U. Ravnskov, mental stress is a well known cause of high cholesterol. This in itself sheds a new light on explaining the high number of coronary heart disease amongst young and middle aged men with high cholesterol. According to Ravnskov and other doctors, cholesterol is not the cause of the heart disease but simply a sign of the stress that brings about heart problems; it's perhaps not surprising either - most men of that age are often in the midst of their professional career.
So that's what Mother Nature does for us but how might we be making her job more difficult?
By lowering our cholesterol levels - the Framingham study the longest lasting, most respected study into the causes of heart disease (started in 1948) reported:
'There is a direct association between falling cholesterol levels over the first 14 years of the study and mortality over the following 18 years. 11% overall and 14% CVD (cardiovascular disease) death rate increase per 1mg/dl per year drop in cholesterol levels'
In other words, once your cholesterol level starts dropping, you are much more likely to die from heart disease.
So how can we explain high cholesterol found in heart attack sufferers?
Patients with chronic heart failure are found to have high level of endotoxins in the blood and, according to many researchers, it's these that cause the problem and not the cholesterol. Basically, these endotoxins bind with the lipoproteins (cholesterol). I asked Mike Lambert from the Shen Clinic about this and he gave me a simplified explanation - he likens cholesterol to custard - if you throw it against a smooth mirror it will slide off, against a rough wall and it will stick. When heart problems occur there is 'a rough wall', i.e infection and so understandably you'll find cholesterol there. But that doesn't mean that cholesterol is the culprit.
So is high cholesterol connected with heart disease or not?
According to Dr Malcolm Kendrick there's no real evidence to show that heart disease is actually connected to high cholesterol. Take hypercholesterolemia (very high cholesterol) - it is virtually taken for granted that it increases the risk of heart disease but Dr U. Ravnskov writes:
'our clinical knowledge about this condition is mainly based on studies of patients selected because of an existing heart disease or because of a family history of heart disease'.
Most interesting of all, research carried out showed that there was a strikingly low mortality rate within individuals over the age of 60 with hypercholesterolemia.
Added to that there's the fact that 75% of people who have heart attacks actually have normal cholesterol levels anyway.
So who started this cholesterol talk in the first place?!
They called him Monsieur Cholesterol.
Otherwise known as Ancel Keys, an American scientist and doctor. Keys carried out the Seven Countries Studies which showed that countries with the highest saturated fat consumption had the highest rates of heart disease. There were flaws in his theory however (and Keys himself expressed doubts over certain points) not least that countries (such as Norway) with a high consumption of fats and low level of heart disease were omitted from the Seven Countries Study.
And since then other people have questioned it. Dr Malcolm Kendrick, a specialist in heart disease, is one of the many doctors who rebukes the cholesterol theory. Scotland, his homeland once had the highest rate from heart disease in the world. He had always accepted the cholesterol theory until he went on holiday to France...
'whilst chewing on a fatty steak, dripping in butter, it suddenly struck me that the French ate rather a lot of saturated fat. As I peered through the smoke filled restaurant I also recognised that they smoked quite a bit too. However, their rate of heart disease was one tenth that of Scotland.'
Dr Kendrick goes on to say that 'I have since discovered that the entire field of heart disease research is packed full of facts that do not (when you start looking properly) exist.'
So all that considered should we really be having pangs of conscience as we tuck into our fried breakfast...?
The Framingham study reported that ‘In Framingham, Massachusetts, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower people's serum cholesterol.' Dr William Castelli - director of the Framingham study at the time - 1992.
But, as Dr Kendrick points out, this startling discovery was met with complete silence by the medical world.
'Great is truth, but still greater is silence about truth.' (Aldous Huxley)
What's more, a recent eight year long interventional study on fifty thousand women (the Woman's Health Intervention) found that a 25% reduction in saturated fat intake had no effect on LDL ‘bad cholesterol' levels, or heart disease rates.
According to Dr Kendrick this is one of many studies that have shown the same thing. The research is all out there and it's certainly worth reading.
But well, this would be all very well if it wasn't for the medicine involved.
They call them 'statins'.
Statins impede the production of cholesterol in the body so that the cells are forced to procure cholesterol from the blood stream therefore lowering the body's cholesterol level.
There's two things to consider here - the first one is that statins do lower cholesterol but as Dr Kendrick says, 'whether your cholesterol goes up, down or sideways, statin drugs work by a means independent of cholesterol.'
The second point is that, as the pharmaceutical industry and many doctors will triumphantly say - statins do lower the risk or cardiovascular mortality.
And, oddly, it's this that renders them dangerous.
As Dr Kendrick says, 'these results are sobering, indeed, for statin drugs can work in this capacity but only at the risk of causing mischief elsewhere.'
If statins were just useless then it might not be a problem but it's this 'mischief' that Kendrick refers to that is worrying.
There are so many side effects to statins that I don't even know where to begin - I can simply advise you to read up and Dr Kendrick's wide range of articles are a good place to start. However, this isn't an Hub made to frighten anyone without offering solutions - I found out from Mike Lambert of the Shen Clinic that statins not only block the production of cholesterol in the liver but the Coenzyme-Q10 (COQ10) production as well. Taking CoQ10 (also known as Ubiquinone) supplements can resolve this problem and according to Mike Lambert it's imperative that people on statins do this.
'People taking statins need to know this,' he says, 'because CoQ10 is vital for producing muscular energy. And a lack of this nutrient can cause the heart (which is a muscle) to function improperly, resulting in heart failure.'
And according to Dr Kenwick's research, lack of CoQ10 'are contributing factors to the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease. '
If you're taking statins or know anyone who is, have a look into CoQ10 supplements. And for more benefits of CoQ10 read on.
Aspirin and heart disease
As I mentioned before many believe inflammation to be the cause of heart attacks and there has been talk that aspirin is effective in preventing this.
Dr Joel Kauffman's however advises against aspirin and suggest substitutes such as omega 3, CoQ10, magnesium and even vitamin E - all of which 'address inflammation at least as effectively as aspirin, if not more so, and do so with near absence of side effects.'
A quick word about diet as anyone following this article is going to be wondering what on earth they should be eating. I'll point you in the direction of those who've done their homework and a good place to start is with the Dr Joel Kauffman diet or the Dr Kilmer McCully diet. They've both made a few eye opening discoveries from their reasearch. Now, you remember the food pyramid? What do you see at the base?
That's right - carbohydrates and lots of them.
Dr Kilmer McCully doesn't mince his words and states:
"The Food Pyramid is wrong on two counts: First, it is based on the false premise that cholesterol and saturated fats are the underlying cause of coronary heart disease. Second, it erroneously implies that all carbohydrates - whether refined or from whole food - are preferable to fats."
Dr Joel Kauffman considers the food pyramid outdated and has reviewed it and pointed out its flaws. Following his conclusions no more than 40-50% of our daily caloric intake should be from carbohydrates.
McCully, on the other hand, suggest that 25 to 30% of our daily diet should be made up of fats, which includes the fat of ingested meats plus olive oil, butter and cream. The remaining 45-50 percent of our daily caloric intake should come from the consumption of complex carbohydrates - in the form of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
So there you go. I make no comment but I'll leave you with a quote from Doctor Paul Dudley White, cardiologist to the presidents back in the mid-fifties.
"Now see here! I began my practice as a cardiologist in 1921 and never saw a myocardial infarction (heart attack) patient until 1928. Back in the MI-free days before 1920, the fats were butter, whole milk and lard, and I think we would all benefit from the kind of diet that we had when no one had ever heard of corn oil."
Thanks for reading!