Saturday, October 18, 2008

Health Posts

The War on Cholesterol
I just wrote an article on cholesterol. We all know that high levels of bad cholesterol is thing of nightmares. You can scare small children with it. The mention of "you have high cholesterol" makes even the strong quake in their boots.

But more and more medical and science researchers are questioning if high cholesterol is a problem. A Japanese researcher wrote that high cholesterol seems he an issue only in the western countries. Cholesterol has been recognized as a concern since 1984, an appropriate year. Thank you George Orwell.

Before 1984 levels in the 240 range we considered normal. Our bodies need cholesterol to survive. Your brain needs cholesterol to function. Are we at war with the wrong thing?

There are a number of issues floating around this topic. It looks to me like we are treating "high" cholesterol because some drug company researcher discovered a fungus from red rice yeast that actually lowered it. Great we have a drug that does something let's find a disease that we can treat with it. Or let's create a a disease we can treat. (Read the Seattle Times article "Suddenly Sick". The more the normal target levels can be lowered the more people need to take a statin drug. Lipitor is the most widely prescribed drug in the US. More than 40 million people take it daily. Now the talk is we need to giving it to children.)

Research shows that most people who have heart attacks have "normal" cholesterol levels. So does that mean as Dr Ladd McNamara says, here your levels are high take this drug so we can get your levels down to the point where most people die of heart attacks.

In 2004 the target level was recommended to be even lower by a National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP). By coincidence 8 of the 9 specialists on this panel had financial ties to drug companies. What a coincidence. When this minor point was raised it was referred to as an "oversight" it wasn't included in the report.

It's bad enough the drug companies exert such influence in this country. What is really worse is statin drugs have some real serious side affects. You know things like they can kill you especially at high levels. They rob your body of CoQ10. Your body needs CoQ10 to survive. Your muscles require it to function. Heart disease is on the rise as well as other muscle problems. All indications point back to lack of CoQ10 deficiencies. So is the cure worse than the problem.

And let's not forget to mention another minor point. Test do show that someone with a history of cardiovascular problems can benefit from taking statin drugs. So the conclusion became, then everyone can benefit from taking them. Kind of like the same conclusion that aspirin a day keeps the heart attack away even in healthy persons. That is a faulty conclusion. There is reason to believe the positive effects could very well be that statin drugs do have an antioxidant impact that has nothing to do with lowering the cholesterol levels.

So if cholesterol is not the problem what is the problem? Plaque coating the inside of your arteries is not a healthy thing. It will restrict blood flow. Often the first indication that you have a coronary issue is a fatal heart attack.

Our lifestyle is the problem. But it is just not what we put into our bodies. Dr Ray Strand says it is a problem with Free Radicals. This generation is the most under attack by free radicals of any generation that has been on earth. We are killing ourselves. Free radicals alter the cells in your body. They make good cholesterol into a free radical by stealing electrons. This in turn makes the cholesterol a free radical and sticky. It is attracted to the walls of your arteries and that starts the problem. Antioxidants, powerful ones, can help you fight this problem.

Another contributor to this problem are high levels of homocysteine. It roughs up the walls making it easier for the cholesterol to stick. High levels of homocysteine are caused by excessive meat consumption. You can reduce your homocysteine levels by cutting down meat consumption and by taking B Vitamins.

Bottom line is someone is going to have to admit that we have allowed people with a financial interest to dictate our approach to this problem. The only group that has won in this case are the drug companies. So who is going to tell the patients?