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

Again..by 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 Newspunch.com

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 FoodMatters.com 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 sally.cronin@moyhill.com.