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.

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Male Reproductive System -Testosterone and Cholesterol


men's health

We covered the physical components of the male reproductive system in the last post and despite being highly complex and mechanically a miracle of nature… Like a flash car they are useless without the right fuel.

In this case it would be the Male hormone – testosterone

Testosterone is the most important of the male sex hormones, called androgens.

It is responsible for the development of the male sexual and reproductive organs – which I have already covered in the first post on the male reproductive system. You can find all the Top to Toe posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

Testosterone also stimulates the development of the secondary male sex characteristics, such as an increase in muscle mass, increased body and facial hair, enlargement of the larynx and the vocal-chord-thickening, which leads to a deepening of the voice.

There are likely to be some changes in behaviour around this time too. In some cases there will be an increase in aggressive behaviour but there is certainly much more sexual awareness as the effects of the testosterone kick in.

Although testosterone is produced in the testes its production is regulated by a complex chain of messages that begins in the hypothalamus in the brain.

The hypothalamus secretes Gonadotropine-releasing hormone (GnRH) to the pituitary gland in carefully timed bursts. This triggers the release of luteinising hormone (LH) which in turn stimulates the Leydig cells of the testes to produce testosterone.

At puberty the production of testosterone increases very rapidly and declines equally rapidly after the age of 50. This change in testosterone levels is one of the reasons that it is quite likely that men will suffer some form of menopause and need to ensure that their diet reflects the reduction in this bone and muscle-protecting hormone. It is also possible that, as in women, the sexual hormones also help protect the body against a number of other diseases such as heart disease and cancers.

The testes produce between 4-7 mg of testosterone per day but – like the two female hormones oestrogen and progesterone – this decreases naturally with age. There are rare cases where young boys fail to develop at puberty, causing problems with bone and muscle development and underdeveloped sexual organs. The likely cause is damage to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland or the testes themselves.

How is testosterone produced?

Believe it or not one of the essential components needed to produce all hormones including testosterone is…. The demon cholesterol.

Cholesterol is known as a sterol and is naturally occurring in the human body and like any other substance that is present without human intervention… It has a purpose.

Without it there are certain vital functions in the body that would not happen. There would be no steroidal hormones such as testosterone or Vitamin D (that considers itself a hormone) and is so vital to our immune system and for regulating minerals such as calcium for bone density. Also cortisol the stress hormone that is needed to boost strength and energy in times of crisis.

Essential message network

Cholesterol is part of the communication network within the body and is responsible for relaying messages between cells. Whilst cells within an organ such as the brain will work together to perform a function, there are thousands of interactions a day between the brain and other organs in the body. Without that message being sent effectively to elements of the male reproductive system, those flash and miraculous organs would not function at all. This messaging service applies to all interactions between cells and organs of the body.

Cholesterol is also very important in later life to prevent cataracts and also in reducing the risk of dementia.

For those who read my health posts regularly, you will know that I am totally against the suggestion that all men and women over 50 should be prescribed statins to lower cholesterol levels which are already declining naturally.

Before I go onto to talk more about statins… I must stress that if you are taking this as a prescribed medication you should not suddenly stop taking without a consultation with your doctor. I do however urge you to research yourself and discuss other options.

A change in diet and lifestyle is just as effective at tackling an imbalance in cholesterol and it is my opinion that statins should only be prescribed when absolutely necessary, not as a preventative. The potential side effects of long term use of statins is only now becoming evident including loss of sex drive, reduced bone density, Vitamin D deficiency and therefore reduced immune system function and possibly higher risks of cancer, muscle wastage, liver damage and dementia. There is a great deal of information on the web and here is just one viewpoint. I encourage you to explore various sources.

http://drsircus.com/medicine/run-from-your-statin-recommending-cardiologist

A bit more about cholesterol

It is important that cholesterol in your body is balanced correctly. The problems arise when one of the components. LDL cholesterol is damaged by being oxidised.

This is where we come in.  Every substance in our bodies is produced through the processing of the food that we ingest. If that does not encourage you to think twice about what you are eating then nothing else will.

I admit that I do use the term lousy cholesterol for low density lipoprotein– because this is the one that can get contaminated and cause health problems. Although when talking about cholesterol we refer to high density lipoprotein and very low density lipoproteins (not usually in substantial amounts) as well, they are all the same molecularly but have different packaging to be transported in the blood stream.

HDL and LDL sub divide into different types of lipoproteins and at the moment more is still to be discovered about this. The LDL is associated with the plaque that forms in the arteries leading to blockages – the smaller the size of the LDL particles the more you are likely to develop coronary disease than if the particles are larger and less dense. There is a theory that if the walls of the arteries are damaged in any way, the smaller and denser particles of the LDL can push their way through that break in the tissue and start clumping together to form the plaque whilst the larger HDL particles would not gain purchase.

In essence then, whilst the LDL cholesterol does have a role in the body there are strong indications that if there is already weakness in the artery it will attract the smaller particles that will then clump forming the harmful plaque leading to coronary disease. There is another problem with LDL cholesterol which is oxidation – this is where the particles react with free radicals, produced through a number of activities including smoking and eating a diet high in white fat as found in processed foods, crisps, pastries and cookies.

Thank you for stopping by and please leave your views in the comments and click a few share buttons.. many thanks Sally

Next time early detection of prostate problems can save your life.

All the Top to Toe posts can be found her : https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

©sallygeorginacronin – Forget the Viagra, Pass me a Carrot. 2013

Thank you for dropping by and please feel free to share.. thanks Sally