Smorgasbord Health Column – The Cholesterol Myth – Part One – and Statins the new research! Sally Cronin


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.

At the time I predicted 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.

Please do not stop taking any medication you have been prescribed without consultation with your doctor.

So here is the original 2012 report….

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.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2194892/All-50s-statins-regardless-health-history-says-Oxford-professor.html

And here is a recent study of 165,000 people over 26 years on the impact on their cholesterol levels.

April 16 (UPI) — A well-known drug used to fight cholesterol may not be working as well as it should, new research shows.

After two years of treatment with statins, about half of patients in primary care still didn’t hit healthy cholesterol levels, according to a study published Monday in the journal Heart.

“Currently, there is no management strategy in clinical practice which takes into account patient variations in [low-density cholesterol] response, and no guidelines for predictive screening before commencement of statin therapy,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers reviewed data collected between 1990 and 2016 for more than 165,000 patients who weren’t treated for heart disease or a stroke. These people had their cholesterol measured at least once a year.

https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2019/04/16/Study-Half-of-people-on-statins-dont-hit-healthy-cholesterol-levels/3821555423648/

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 you can improve the healthy type of cholesterol (high density lipoprotein) and decrease the more harmful type (low density lipoprotein)

I often get emails from readers of my books about the basic key indicators that are essential to keep us alive and healthy – These are LDL Cholesterol levels – Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels…I will post updated articles on the last two following on from Cholesterol.

Why we should all respect cholesterol and manage its levels in our bodies.

I respect and manage my cholesterol levels because without it there are certain vital functions in my body that would not happen.

  • I am rather attached to my steroidal hormones, including the sterol Vitamin D (thinks it’s a hormone), that keeps me happy in the winter, free of colds and flu.
  • It also keeps my bones strong by regulating calcium in my blood and other vital components such as cortisol, there when I need it to deal with stress.
  • Also DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), very important for my bone density now I am in my 60’s as well as helping keeping me young and remembering what happened yesterday.
  • I was grateful for my progesterone in my younger days that kept my periods more or less regular and for the oestrogens that developed me into the woman I was and remain today.
  • I am also hoping that my cholesterol, which is very important for my eyesight will prevent me from developing cataracts in my 70’s and 80’s.
  • Or from developing Dementia and keeping me active until a ripe old age.

Sound flippant?

A little yes, but not so flippant as the suggestion that everyone over the age of 50, whatever their current cholesterol readings should be given Statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs.

My feeling is that the NHS has given up trying to educate its clients into adopting a healthier diet and exercising more, and is going with the mass medication option because they say it will prevent cardiovascular disease and dementia down the line. Quite frankly, they are terrified – they have an aging population- who are going to be more likely to develop heart disease, cancer, and dementia simply because the natural process is deterioration.

However, without the protection of healthy forms of cholesterol many functions in the body are compromised including brain health and our sex drive.

What is ‘flippantly’ ignored is that cholesterol is not some demon substance that has invaded our bodies and is rampaging out of control through our blood stream, but essential to our fundamental health and well-being. There are a number of people who are genetically prone to cholesterol health issues, and of course then medication may be the right decision, but it should never be something that is given to all.

There are some lifestyle and dietary changes that we can all make to make sure that the cholesterol in our bodies is getting on with its job and not causing us health problems, but before I move onto the solutions, I would like to spend a little exploring the reasons for the interactions that are taking place and resulting in clogged arteries.

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.

In my next post I am going to focus on what happens when that oxidation of LDL takes place and why the HDL is accepted as the healthier cholesterol. For the rest of the series I will look at some strategies to get the LDL levels down, raise the HDL and make sure that all of us do not end up on Statins without a libido!

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty 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 by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

Thanks for dropping in today and if you have any questions please use the comments or if your prefer you are more than welcome to email me on Sally.cronin@moyhill.com