Smorgasbord Health Column – The Cholesterol Myth – Part One – Statins, Heart Disease, Statistics by Sally Cronin

Cholesterol plays a vital role in a number of key functions within the body yet it has been demonized and come under attack for the last twenty years. For the majority of the population, heart disease and coronary heart disease is lifestyle related and can be reversed by making changes to diet and lifestyle. This includes eating plenty of good fats and radically reducing industrially produced foods, white refined carbohydrates and an excess of sugar.

N.B. Familial hypercholesterolemia which is an inherited condition is characterized by very high levels of cholesterol in the blood.  An estimated one in 250 people have this condition where they are unable to rid their blood of an excess of cholesterol which can lead to coronary artery disease. They may require medication to maintain a healthy balance. However, that is not the case for the other 249 out of 250 people!

I have often highlighted the inconsistencies of medical studies and the profound and sometimes downright dangerous statements made that vilify or extol the virtues of either a food or medication. This was the case in 2012 when a Professor, labeled one of the UK’s leading experts stated that everyone over the age of 50 should be prescribed statins to reduce their cholesterol levels.

Here is an extract from the original 2012 report….Oxford Professor recommends statins for all over 50s

Statins should be given to all over-50s, regardless of their health history, because they dramatically cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes in later life, one of the UK’s leading experts has said.

Currently statins are given only to high-risk patients, around eight million people, who have high cholesterol or have a risk of heart disease.

But there is ‘clear evidence’ that healthy people can also benefit based on their age alone, says Professor Sir Rory Collins.

At the time I predicted in a men’s health book that I wrote, that a high percentage of those who were prescribed statins would have no decrease in their elevated harmful cholesterol levels, for one very good reason. They would assume that it was a magic pill and continue to eat foods, such as industrially manufactured packaged meals, and not eat fresh foods ‘cooked from scratch’ that naturally balance cholesterol levels.

Also many who were part of the disastrous government experiment that encouraged the high carbohydrate, low fat diet from the 1960s, still follow that advice today, despite many of the statistics behind the edict being disputed.

Worldwide Obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, with about 13% of adults being obese and about 39% of adults being overweight.

Heart disease on the rise – What is even more compelling is a recent report which  that, by 2035, more than 123 million Americans will have high blood pressure, 24 million will have coronary heart disease, and more than 11 million will have experienced a stroke.  All the conditions that the widespread prescribing of Statins was going to prevent.

Here is an extract from a report from 2015 that is pretty damning in the global use of statins based on tainted research and a huge pay day for pharmaceutical companies.The grave danger of Statin Drugs

Once again the medical establishment gets it completely backward.

Heart disease, as many of us know, is one of the leading causes of death in the US, killing about 610,000 people each year. Big Pharma—in the belief that cholesterol is the primary factor in heart disease—developed statin drugs that would lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The drugs, which have been accompanied by massive marketing campaigns, are huge moneymakers for the drug industry, to the tune of about $29 billion worth of sales in 2013 (. That’s the kind of outrageous money you make when you convince one in four Americans over the age of 45 to take statins.

Over the years we’ve reported on a wide range of negative health effects that have been linked to these drugs. Here is a survey of some of these findings:

  • Statins interfere with the production of coenzyme Q10, which supports the body’s immune and nervous systems, boosts heart and other muscle health, maintains normal blood pressure, and much more.
  • Statins weaken the immune system, make it difficult to fight off bacterial infections, and increase the production of cytokines, which trigger and sustain inflammation.
  • They make some patients unable to concentrate or remember words, and are linked to muscle and neurological problems, including Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
  • Statins inhibit the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids by promoting the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids, which increases insulin resistance and the risk of developing diabetes.
  • There is evidence that statin use blocks the benefits of exercise. Exercise increases the activity and numbers of mitochondria, cells’ “power plants” that process sugars and fat. The study found that with statin use, mitochondrial activity actually decreases with exercise.
  • Statins work by reducing the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, which is essential to brain health—the brain is 2% of the body’s weight, but contains 25% of the entire body’s cholesterol.
  • Statin users have a higher incidence of nerve degeneration and pain, memory loss, confusion, depression, and a higher risk of ALS and Parkinson’s, according to Dr. David Williams in his July 2014 Alternatives newsletter. Statins also decrease carotenoid levels. Carotenoids, which are found in fresh fruits and vegetables and act as antioxidants, have a number of benefits, including protecting against cell damage, aging, and chronic diseases.
  • Statin drugs may also be driving Americans to overeat: a twelve-year study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that statin users increased their calorie intake by 9%, and fat consumption by 14.4%, over the study period, whereas those who didn’t take statins didn’t significantly change in either measure.
  • An animal study linked statin use to muscle damage. Animals that exercised on statins had 226% more muscle damage than those not given statins.
  • They affect the quality of sleep.
  • Statins increase the risk of prostate and breast cancer.
  • Statins are known to cause liver damage by increasing the liver’s production of digestive enzymes.
  • Statins also speed aging and lower sex drive.
  • Statins have been linked to aggressive and violent behavior in women.

Despite these widely documented risks, the media’s coverage of any adverse side effects is typically followed by the reassurance that the benefits of statins outweigh the risks.

Another article from 2019 does not pull any punches: Billion dollar industry costing Millions of lives making changes to diet and to lifestyle there is evidence that these conditions can be reversed or improved. But, with the majority of doctors receiving no nutritional training in their seven years of study, it is not surprising that prescribing a pill is much easier and convenient for everyone concerned.

I am 67 years old and I have never been asked by a doctor about my diet. I have however surprised several, including presently, by having normal blood pressure, healthy cholesterol and blood sugar. I am a pharmaceutical companies worst customer.

A formula one racing car mechanic will know down to the last millimetre the exact mix required to make sure that his complex engine gets that car over the finish line first. My experience over the last 50 years would indicate that very few doctors have the same interest in the fuel required for the health of  their human patients. I have met some however, who have said that even if they did prescribe health diet and lifestyle changes, most of their patients just want a pill!

You will have heard more frequently that doctors are not practicing medicine but crisis management. That is true, but the fault does not lie solely in their hands, as they are as much a victim of their medical training, fudged research, Government mass marketing of the results and pharma industry profits as we are.

And a great deal of the responsibility for the crisis our health services are experiencing, lies in our own hands.

I am not some skinny ‘expert’ but a ‘fat’ expert having weighed nearly 24 stone/330lbs 25 years ago and suffered from all of the above ‘lifestyle’ related health problems at the age of 42.  That was the reason I decided to study nutrition to find out how to make the necessary changes to save my life and lose 150lbs. I have continued to study obesity, lifestyle diseases and other health issues that are impacting the overall health of my country and yours.

For the last 22 years  I have written books, run my own diet advisory centre, been a health broadcaster, and now write this blog to encourage others to examine their lifestyles and turn back the clock on their health issues.

The  reason the message about our reliance on the quick fix and the alternatives to prescribed medication is not being blasted out to the public, is because they don’t want it out there. Doctors have had their careers ruined, research showing that food and lifestyle can reverses diabetes, heart disease and even cancer has been blocked, and fundamentally our health is being managed by the pharmaceutical companies and the power they hold over those in government.

There are some enlightened physicians and educators out there making documentaries and working to reverse the inherent and ingrained dietary bias about nutritional therapy, but it is not going to change overnight.

Unless we take stock of our diet and lifestyle as individuals make the changes necessary to be healthier and at less risk of becoming a statistic.

I do appreciate that medical advancements in the treatment of certain diseases, life saving surgeries, neonatal care and certain drugs such as antibiotics have saved millions of lives. But with regard to these common lifestyle health issues not so much.

There is still a stigma attached to treatments such as nutritional therapy as not being mainstream, but there is a great deal of research being undertaken to change that attitude. It is worth noting that whereas vitamin therapy, food therapy, herbal remedies, moderate exercise and healthy fats have killed very few people, the following statistics do make you think.Medical errors third leading cause of death in America

  • A recent Johns Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors. Other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 440,000.
  • Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.

And on the subject of prescription drugs

Mercola reports:According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 100,000 Americans die from reactions to prescription drugs each year, making this the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. The death toll from ILLEGAL drugs stands at 10,000. Houston (and every other part of the country), we have a problem….

This does not take into account the side effects that 2 million Americans suffer each year from taking prescribed medication and you can find a partial list of 26 listed in the article.

Whilst we have all heard of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to combat cancer, we hear very little about high dose vitamin therapy. Vitamin C Therapy and Cancer or High dose B3 Niacin for depression Vitamin B3 for depression and anxiety. Both of these supported by medically qualified practitioners.

Having said that please do not stop taking any medication you have been prescribed without consultation with your doctor. I also am not advocating that you stop any treatment. I do however suggest that you research a drug or treatment in detail so that it is an informed decision.

I recently ran a series that might help you get started:Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Round Up

Over the next few posts I am going to revisit Cholesterol, why the body actually needs this essential component for a number of vital health reasons and how to make sure you are maintaining a balance that protects you.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the posts that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it. If you have any questions you can email me on

Smorgasbord Health Column – Ancient Healing Therapies – Reflexology

It is a couple of years since I posted a series on some of the Ancient healing therapies that are still being practiced today. I am reluctant to call them Alternative therapies as that is an expression that was coined by the medical profession back in the dark ages…up to the present day…. to describe healing that has been used for thousands of years but is beyond their comprehension. This is not to say that all treatments today that are offered on the back of ancient healing are effective.

I had a number of therapy consultants working alongside me in my diet advisory service in Ireland and they were all highly qualified and professional. However, most therapeutic practices are well regulated and I do advise that you not only check out the background to any practitioner you are going to see, but also check out any personal testimonials. I find word of mouth to be the most reliable.

To become an effective healer in any of the ancient practices you need to undergo stringent training and to have a broad knowledge of the human body. You also have to understand that even physical therapies, that require a hands on application, can have a profound effect on mental and emotional health. For example reflexology in the right hands, can result in a release of emotions, as well as alleviating pain and soreness in a particular region of the body.

The other aspect that it is interesting to note, is that some of the ancient therapies, such as acupuncture and reiki, are used on pets, and they can prove to be very effective. Since animals to not experience the placebo effect, it does go a long way to prove in my mind that the treatments are genuinely beneficial to humans and animals alike.

This is particularly interesting to consider when healing therapies such as reflexology are labeled pseudo-scientific and claim that there is no evidence that they work or benefit anyone health issues.

I am the first to tell anyone that they need to be diagnosed and treated for any serious condition by a qualified medical professional.

But I have worked with patients undergoing treatment for many different health issues, with diet and also stress related therapies that do not compromise the regimen that has been prescribed by their doctor. If you do decide to consult someone who will be using a hands on approach to the therapy then you should consult your doctor first. There are studies on the effect of reflexology for cancer patients and here is one from 2012. Reflexology and cancer recovery

What is reflexology?

Reflexology is a form of complementary medicine that was first practised over 5,000 years in China where it was used to correct energy fields in patients. There is evidence, in the form of wall art, that the Egyptians and Indians also used this form of healing in the same time period. The Incas are believed to have passed down their skill of reflexology to the North American Red Indians who used it extensively for healing and relaxation.

It really only came to prominence in the Western world in the last century when various physicians discovered that reflexology points when stimulated acted as a form of anaesthetic. A doctor in the U.S called Dr. William Fitzgerald developed these first points into vertical zones and connected them to specific organs and parts of the body. He wrote a book on Zone Therapy in the early 1900’s and was the forerunner of modern day reflexology therapy.

Later doctors added additional horizontal zones to the upper and underside of the feet and then to the hands. Other parts of the body such as the face and ears were explored as the connection between massaging certain points on the body and acupuncture became more apparent.

In the 1920’s a therapist called Eunice Ingham completed the chart of the feet and developed the method that today we call reflexology.

How does reflexology work?

As in acupuncture that I will cover next week,there are a number of places on the body where pressure can be applied to benefit individual organs, systems and the structure of the body. This includes the hands and the ears but today I am going to focus on the feet which are the most common area of the body to be massaged.

Image: Alternative Therapy directory UK

In the feet there are reflex areas that correspond to all parts of the body and these areas are arranged in the form of a map on each foot. The right foot mainly corresponds to the right side of the body and the left foot to the left side with shared zones for central areas of the body. This enables therapists to be very specific about areas and conditions that require treatment. The important thing to remember with all natural therapies is that they work from the inside of the body to the outside of the body whereas conventional treatment tends to work from the outside in. In most cases this leads to the symptoms being treated and not the cause. Reflexology can treat the whole body internally and externally just by manipulating these specific pressure points.

If you imagine the image of the foot from above with the toes facing away from you can get a clearer picture of the reflexology map.

There are horizontal zones running across the centre line of the toes and these pressure points relate to the face, sinus, teeth, gums and jaw on the left foot and the neck and brain stem on the right foot. Above the zone in the nail bed of the big toe is the zone for the head and brain and under the zone at the base of the toe is the zone for the neck.

Another horizontal band runs across the foot just slightly below the toes and this relates to the tops of the shoulders. Half way up the foot is a zone that can be massaged to relieve upper back problems and the zone around the base of the ankle controls the lymph glands, fallopian tubes and the groin area.

Along each side of the foot are smaller zones with specific roles in therapy. Along the outside edge of the left foot are the zones for the arm, lungs, chest and breast areas, elbow, waistline, knee and leg and lower back. Along the inside edge of the left and right feet are zones for the spine and the bladder.

On the bottom of the feet.

On the bottom of both feet you will find specific zones of varying sizes that are massaged to provide therapy for other parts and organs. On the underside of the left foot are the zones for shoulder, lungs, upper chest and back, diaphragm, gall bladder, ascending colon. Just under the last two toes is the zone for the inner ear. The big toe has a zone for the head and brain as well as one for the pituitary gland.

The underside of the right foot contains zones for the thyroid gland, eye, sinus, neck, ear, arm, stomach, spleen, transverse and descending colon and the small intestine.

Both feet share zones on the inside edge and centre which relate to the heart, solar plexus, liver, adrenal gland, pancreas, kidneys, spine, bladder, sciatic nerve and the lower back.

As in acupuncture the gentle manipulation of certain pressure points on the feet releases blocked channels in the body allowing healing to take place.

What happens during a reflexology treatment?

Your therapist should take a full medical history before beginning to treat you. You will then sit in a comfortable position with bare feet.

All the zones on the feet will be massaged usually using the side and end of the thumb to apply firm pressure. If there is a particular part of the body that is affected by pain or discomfort this will often be reflected in the specific zone for that area on the foot. A feeling of tenderness will be experienced that can ease with continued massage. The process should not be in any way uncomfortable and in fact many people find it very relaxing.

What health conditions might reflexology help?

As with any alternative therapy, despite often having thousands of years of history, you have to be very careful about claiming that it works as a cure. Many patients find relief from stress, depression, fatigue, spinal problems, indigestion, Irritable bowel syndrome, hormone imbalance and sinusitis. It is also used for specific muscle and joint pain in conjunction with other complementary therapies.

Are there any side effects resulting from a reflexology treatment?

It depends on the extent of the original problem but there may be slight detox side effects such as mild headaches, diarrhoea, and possible congestion as the body tries to rid itself of toxins that have been released. It is a good idea to combine reflexology with a detox programme along the lines of last month’s plan combined with additional fluids. You might also experience some emotional side-effects and certainly if you have been under stress you might find yourself feeling either a little weepy. You should certainly feel relaxed.

Reflexology and pets.

Sam enjoyed both reflexology and reiki healing which I will cover in another post. He would actively ask for a massage, not just on his tummy as many dogs do but he would come and sit with his back to me until he was touching my knees… I would then massage the edges of his ears (like in humans probably relating to certain parts of his body ) and then his neck gently and then down across the tops of his front legs and then down his spine…

He would occasionally lift his paw and I would massage the pads of his foot and lightly inbetween the toes..He would sit perfectly still for 10 minutes or so before getting up, stretching and moving off to go to sleep.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998- 2018

Next time a look at Acupuncture which is a healing therapy that I have found to be very beneficial several times in my life.

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

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