Josh Bowen: The Cholesterol Myth

joshHere are a few statistics for you to wrap your head around:
1. Heart Disease is the #1 killer of all Americans 35 and older 2. 2700 people die daily from heart disease, thats almost 1 million a year 3. in 2010 it cost Americans $108.9 billion in services, medication and lost wages 4. 1 in every 6 adults has high cholesterol as defined as higher than 240 mg/dl total cholesterol  5. From 2002 to 2012 the percentage of people using statin drugs (cholesterol meds) is up from 20 to 28%. 6. Heart disease continues to climb every year even though statin medication has climbed as well 7. CEO of Pfizer (the company that makes Lipitor) makes $87,500 per day or $21 million per year. He needs you to take your medication.
Cholesterol is a funny thing to me. All of our panic and focus to put people on (potentially) harmful drugs came from research done 50 years ago. One study essentiality spurred  the increase of statin drugs being prescribed to millions of Americans each year. Is it necessary? Does cholesterol cause heart disease? What causes high cholesterol? All very good questions.
What is cholesterol? 
It is a waxy, fat like substance found in all cells of the body. It helps make many hormones, Vitamin D and and substances that help digest food. There is HDL and LDL cholesterol. HDL is looked at as good cholesterol because it carries part of cholesterol to your liver and your liver disposes of it. LDL is looked at as bad cholesterol because it supposedly builds up in your arteries. This is the reason doctors focus on increasing HDL and lowering LDL.
What causes high cholesterol?
Years ago it was thought that fatty foods clogged your arteries and would give you a heart attack. This is the reason for the 1980’s “low fat” craze. This low fat obsession also led to a dramatic increase in obesity and heart attacks and strokes. Go figure. Now we know that it isn’t necessarily the high fat content of your diet that causes high cholesterol but rather the amount of processed sugar that is driving the numbers up. Eggs and meat are not contributing to the problem as much as donuts and cake. Period.
How Dangerous are Stain Drugs?
Here are a few:
1. Statin drugs interfere with the production of CoQ 10 which supports the bodies immune system, maintains normal blood pressure, boosts cardiac and skeletal muscle health 2. Inhibits Omega 3 fatty acids from the metabolism of Omega 6 fatty acids. Causing increased inflammation and increasing insulin resistance leading to diabetes 3. Negates the bodies ability to make cholesterol, which is essential for brain health 4. Causes excessive muscle damage and soreness 5. Studies have shown that statin use increasings calorie consumption by 9% 6. Speeds aging and lowers sex drive 7. Causes liver damage
Is it worth it? In my opinion, no.
Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?
(excerpt from “The People’s Chemist”)

Searching for a correlation between cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis is as simple as looking at the arteries of dead people.  This search began in the early 1960s.   In 1961, researchers Mathur and colleagues studied the levels of cholesterol and the degree of atherosclerosis seen at autopsy within the arteries of 20 deceased patients as well as 200 more cases selected from medical libraries. All cholesterol levels were taken within 16 hours of death. No correlation could be observed between these patients’ blood cholesterol levels and the amount or severity of “atherosclerotic plaque” within the arteries.  Cholesterol levels, whether high or low, had no impact on the growth of atherosclerotic plaque – the major cause of heart disease. In 1962, The American Heart Journal published the research of Dr. Marek and colleagues who also searched for a correlation between cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Among 106 cases studied, the level of cholesterol did not affect atherosclerotic changes in plaque.  His results matched others that were conducted by the same methods, in the same laboratory, and in the same populations.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that at autopsy, postmortem patients who died suddenly showed no correlation between total cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Researchers Jose Mendez, Ph.D., and co-workers point out that their findings agree with previous studies. Notably, they cited researchers Lande and Sperry, who as early as 1936 also failed to find a correlation between cholesterol levels and atherosclerotic plaque. These studies shake the foundation of the current medical model for treating or preventing heart disease.
Let’s go ahead and hammer the nail into the cholesterol myth coffin. If it is true that the risk of heart disease rises as blood cholesterol rises, then we should see elevated total cholesterol among those who die early from heart attack. This, too, has not been the case. Specifically, half of all heart attacks and strokes occur in persons without elevated levels of cholesterol.
Let’s cover the coffin with a layer of cement. If cholesterol caused atherosclerosis; then we would find atherosclerosis throughout the estimated 100,000 miles of adult blood vessels (arteries, veins and capillaries) within the body through which cholesterol travels. Yet 90% of the time when atherosclerosis is found in the coronary arteries the rest of the arteries remain unharmed by cholesterol.

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