What is cholesterol and what is all the fuss about statin drugs?
Fighting cholesterol is killing us
There are 3 kinds of cholesterol; the good, the bad and the ugly. The good cholesterol is the “HDL” High Density Lipoproteins. The “good” HDL cholesterol particles are able to remove cholesterol from within the artery and transport it back to the liver for re-use which is the reason why HDL particles are called “good ” cholesterol. The LDL are the “bad” particles as studies show that high levels of LDL particles promote cardiovascular disease and other health problems. The “ugly” are the triglycerides which are used for storing unused calories. High levels of triglycerides have been linked to atherosclerosis, the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Overall, cholesterol plays a vital role in your body. Cholesterol is used to produce cell membranes, steroid hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids to digest fats and also to repair damaged cells. Your immune system requires cholesterol to function and so does your brain. 25% of your body’s cholesterol is in your brain and healthy brain cells are full of cholesterol to both insulate and fuel the electrical impulses that make thinking possible. Vitamin D precursors require cholesterol to convert into the hormone-like vitamin D. Without adequate sun exposure vitamin D precursors can turn into cholesterol instead of the vitamin, raising overall cholesterol counts.
Exposing the cholesterol myth
Cholesterol is not your enemy! If your doc is telling you that it is, then they need to be re-educated in what cholesterol is and does. If your cholesterol level is too low, (under 250 for some people and almost NEVER below 150) you will not be able to use the sun to generate sufficient levels of vitamin D. Cognitive function falls and sex hormones drop off. A plethora of problems will ensue.
If you have high cholesterol, it is in part because of increased inflammation in your body. The reason the extra cholesterol is there to be found is often a combination of inflammation from diet, brittleness in the blood vessel from allergenic food, and lack of proper minerals. Cholesterol is a front-line defense against breaking blood vessels. High cholesterol is not a disease, it is a symptom. The cholesterol is there to do a job: help your body to heal and repair. Lowering your cholesterol without addressing the underlying problems is BAD MEDICINE.
Until we treat the diet-lifestyle causes of high cholesterol, the symptoms won’t go away.
What do statin drugs do?
High cholesterol is a condition caused by inflammation. C-reactive proteins in the blood are inflammation markers. People with these markers also often have elevated systemic inflammation in the arteries. Therefore the cholesterol levels rise and the docs put them on a statin drug. Statin drugs may artificially lower cholesterol but they do not lower C-reactive proteins. Various studies have even shown that people on statins for high cholesterol actually have a rather high incidence of heart events as compared to placebo groups.
Lowering cholesterol artificially with statin drugs has NOT reduced the number of heart attacks in men or women. In a five-year study of 950 men and women, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that 95% of all heart attacks, strokes, heart-related deaths and other heart problems occurred in the patients with high levels of arterial calcification, not high cholesterol. But statin drugs are the industry sweethearts and cash cow, coming in as the #1 prescribed drugs in the world.
In a recent Berkeley study, the statin drug users had a whopping 34% of “heart events” while vitamin C users had none at all. In this study, just 1,000mg of vitamin C a day lowered cholesterol better than the statin drug group. A US meta-analysis of 11 studies published in June 2011 has revealed that statin treatments do not reduce the death rate among patients with high cholesterol and no history of heart disease but actually increases heart events in users.
Furthermore, a study of 5,600 patients using cholesterol-lowering drugs revealed that a full 62% could not reach their target cholesterol levels with the drugs. The theory that cholesterol causes heart disease is an outdated hypothesis, postulated by Ancel Keyes back in the 1950’s. This theory is flawed and has actually never been properly studied.
In 75% of all heart attacks cholesterol levels are normal.
Dying for statin drugs
What statin drugs do accomplish is to block the production of Co-enzyme Q10 which is critical for the function and health of the cellular mitochondria. As a result of statin use, the skeletal and cardiac muscle begin to break down resulting in pain, loss of strength and energy, and eventually this breakdown leads to heart failure. CoQ10 levels tend to be lower in people with high cholesterol compared to healthy individuals. Certain cholesterol-lowering drugs such as atorvastatin, cerivastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin deplete levels of CoQ10 in the body. Taking CoQ10 helps correct deficiencies caused by statin medications and decreases the muscle pain that accompanies statin treatment.
No one with high cholesterol has this condition because of a lack of statin drugs.
What are natural treatments for “high” cholesterol?
In a Berkeley study mentioned earlier, participants who received vitamin C started out with C-reactive protein levels greater than 2.00 mg/L. They dropped to 34% lower levels compared with another group after only 2 months. This study was done based on previous findings that vitamin C supplements reduce elevated C-reactive protein and shows that a relatively small amount of vitamin C can reduce C-reactive proteins and inflammation.
A 150 pound mammal, whether a 150 pound goat or 150 pounds of lab rats, manufacture about 14,000mg of vitamin C a day when not under stress. Man lacks the ability to manufacture his own vitamin C and therefore relies on diet to supply vitamin C needs. I suggest a minimum of 5,000mg a day or more of vitamin C ascorbic acid, in divided doses, and built up to bowel tolerance. Keep in mind that the Berkeley study used a mere 1,000mg to beat a popular statin drug.
The heart of it
Returning to Co-enzyme Q10, this is a nutrient that naturally occurs within your body and is also present in many of the foods you eat. CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant and helps stimulate energy production in our cells, protecting them from damage and fighting the effects of free radicals. CoQ10 is intimately involved in the production of energy at the cellular level. Keep in mind that you are only as healthy as your cells are and as we age, our bodies produce less and less CoQ10.
Primary dietary sources of CoQ10 include oily fish like salmon and tuna, organ meats like liver, and whole grains. Healthy individuals can obtain sufficient amounts of CoQ10 through a balanced diet, but supplementation with 300mg a day is recommended for people with high cholesterol. Always take it with your other oil soluble supplements like, vitamin D, fish oil and vitamin A & E.
B vitamins work to lower homocysteine levels. Homocysteine damages the arteries to allow cholesterol to stick in them, leading to blood clots. Vitamin B is a complex vitamin and should be taken as a “B-complex” along with a good multi-mineral as minerals are cofactors in vitamin B assimilation. In addition to this, taking extra niacin, which is also a B vitamin, proves to be a more effective treatment than statins for increasing good cholesterol. Niacin brings an impressive 15 to 35% rise in good cholesterol while it lowers bad cholesterol by up to 25% or more.
Studies consistently show that cinnamon significantly reduces blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol. Taking just 2 capsules a day will help good cholesterol levels and taking 2 with each meal can make a big difference in blood sugar and insulin levels for diabetics.
Shining on vitamin D
The best source for vitamin D is always the sun. In just 20 minutes a day of sun it is estimated that for each 5% of skin surface exposed, approximately 435iu of natural vitamin D is manufactured. Vitamin D precursors require cholesterol for conversion into the hormone-like vitamin, without adequate sun exposure vitamin D precursors can turn into cholesterol instead of the vitamin.
Vitamin D supplements are not even a close-second best to sun exposure. But if you do take a supplement form of vitamin D, take soy-free D3 (cholecalciferol), preferably alongside an oil-containing meal. The synthetic vitamin D is usually called vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol and id bad for you. 10,000iu is a daily minimum of vitamin D3 needed to maintain winter-time levels. More is required to recover from a vitamin D deficiency.
Food for thought
Researchers suggest that the strong antioxidant flavonoid compounds found in apples–quercetin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, kaempferol and others prevent “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidizing to trigger events that result in the buildup of plaque in arteries. These flavonoid compounds also inhibit inflammation, thereby lowering C-reactive proteins. An apple a day…?
Pomegranate shares similar qualities to apples and has been proven to lower total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol without affecting the HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels in your blood.
According to scientific studies, the Wilen Sisters’ “avocado cure” can lower your cholesterol up to 42% and do it faster than any statin drugs. Avocados are packed with heart-healthy omega-9 fatty acids and are rich in a compound called beta-sitosterol, which has shown to lower cholesterol in 16 different studies. One study found that after just 7 days on a diet including avocados, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels dropped by 22% and HDL cholesterol rose 11%.
Past studies have reported that daily consumption of 1.5 to 3.0 grams of phytosterols/stanols from plant foods can reduce total cholesterol levels by 8 to 17%, which represents a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease. Phytosterols or plant sterols are cholesterol-like molecules found in plants, such as whole grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables. Phytosterols are minimally absorbed from the small intestine, so they do not enter the bloodstream. Phytosterols also stop or slow absorption of dietary cholesterol and cholesterol made by the liver.
Red yeast rice, fish oil, psyllium, garlic and artichoke added to the diet are cited by the Mayo Clinic to naturally lower your cholesterol.
Oat bran not only has a huge amount of phytosterols but it has lots of fiber that has been found to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels as well. A high-fiber diet lowers blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in oat bran, oats, beans and flax seed helps lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoproteins.
The cholesterol in an organic free range egg is good stuff for you. Your stomach takes the cholesterol in natural chicken eggs and converts it directly into a peptide (a natural ACE inhibitor) that lowers your high blood pressure and “unsticks” the bad stuff in your arteries.
Clinical trials and studies show that drinking green tea enhances immunity, helps prevent aging, and also prevents cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract.
One study showed Holy Basil to effect significant reduction in total cholesterol levels. The same study also showed Holy Basil to be an effective treatment for diabetes by reducing blood glucose levels.
Research shows that dark chocolate can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, and increase the flow of blood to the brain.
What else helps fight high cholesterol?
A big deal is to avoid sodas, food additives and hydrogenated oils. Switch back to butter because margarine, which is very high in trans-fatty acids, actually triples the risk of coronary heart disease. Margarine easily increases both bad cholesterol and good cholesterol. If that’s not bad enough, margarine increases the risk of cancer up to 5X, lowers quality of breast milk, decreases immune response and decreases insulin response.
Inflammation caused by gluten and other food sensitivities raises C-reactive proteins and weakens the blood vessels. The body does damage control by consequently coating the damaged blood vessels with cholesterol, causing the blood vessels to eventually calcify. Are your arteries being clogged by gluten?
Gluten also interferes with the hormone leptin which helps regulate cholesterol and control your appetite. This fact is compounded by too much food eaten too fast which also interferes with leptin. When you are eating too fast, the stomach has to produce more acid to break things down. This upsets the balance of grehlin in the stomach and leptin signals don’t move as fast from the fat cells to indicate balance of fat storage vs. demands in the body. Eating too fast can unbalance and raise your overall cholesterol numbers.
Eating too fast causes overeating, loss of nutrients and unbalanced cholesterol.
When University of California put people on the Paleolithic Diet, their blood pressure dropped like a rock along with the blood insulin levels. But the good cholesterol levels went up and there was a significant reduction in bad cholesterol along with total cholesterol including the ugly (triglycerides) in just 10 days. Winner, winner!
Trans-fats are bad for your cholesterol numbers. Trans-fats are generated when liquid oils are hydrogenated so they become and remain solid at room temperature. Trans-fats are never found in nature but they are chemically manufactured for an inexpensive way to make fats last longer on the shelf. Trans-fats are tough to digest and have been linked to many health problems, including increased bad cholesterol, decreased good cholesterol and colon cancer.
Foods high in saturated fats also raise your cholesterol levels. Cheap red meat, pasteurized-full-fat dairy, french fries, fried chicken and most other deep fried foods are high in cholesterol fats along with a majority of fried chips and snack foods. Did you know that a single cup of ice cream has more fat than a hamburger and more cholesterol than 10 glazed doughnuts?
The process of homogenizing milk reduces the size of fat particles by one-fourth to keep them from separating later. This may prevent the cream from separating in the milk jug but it causes the enzyme xanthine oxidase to unnaturally move from the milk into the bloodstream. Once there it attacks the artery walls and heart muscle leaving lesions which the body attempts to patch with cholesterol. This leads to scar tissue, calcified plaques, and build-up of cholesterol and fatty deposits.
Oral and IV antibiotics both change the lining of the blood vessels by killing off the bio-film that coats the inside of blood vessels. The result is weakened and hardened arteries along with corresponding high cholesterol.
Cholesterol levels rise mainly from eating too many grains and sugars, physical inactivity, smoking, drinking excessively and being overweight. NOT from a lack of statin drugs.
The problem with low cholesterol
Low cholesterol is linked to Alzheimer’s. The eminent researcher Iwo J. Bohr recently published a peer-reviewed paper on the subject.
Low cholesterol is linked to suicide. Your body makes cholesterol for a building block for the immune system, hormones, and especially brain cells. Low cholesterol impairs brain function and is linked to depression.
Cholesterol is the “raw material” for your sex hormones. Without it, men cannot manufacture testosterone and women cannot make estrogen leading to hormone imbalance and loss of libido.
Low cholesterol can trigger the deadliest kind of stroke called a massive stroke. This happens when blood vessels in your brain are weak and burst open. Taking statin drugs increases the risk of a second stroke by up to 33%, with those who suffered bleeding in the cerebrum facing the highest risk, according to the study in the Archives of Neurology.
Low cholesterol and statin drugs have been shown to trigger memory loss and cholesterol below 130 has been linked to cognitive impairment in many studies.
(CBS News) “Statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs celebrated for their ability to prevent stroke and heart attack, may do more harm than good in some patients.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/12/12/us-cholesterol-stroke-idUSWBT00804520071212
The FDA says the statin drug Zocor is linked it to even more severe muscle damage than other statins. This drug can dissolve the muscles in a condition called rhabdomyolysis along with kidney damage.
A partial list of other “side effects” of statin drugs are: liver damage, digestive problems, rashes, flushing, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, polyneuropathy, acidosis, pancreatic and liver dysfunction, cataracts, blood glucose elevation, tendon problems, cancer, Parkinson’s, violent behavior, anemia, nausea, amnesia, kidney failure, diarrhea, constipation, inability to walk, sleep impairment, neuropathies, impaired muscle formation, temperature dysregulation, tremors, nerve damage, mental confusion, and the list goes on.
“If your physician is urging you to check your total cholesterol, then you should know that this test will tell you virtually nothing about your risk of heart disease, unless it is 330 or higher.” Dr Mercola
Who is responsible for the cholesterol debacle?
Who is responsible? Bottom line, Big Pharma–but you pay the price and no one pays a higher price for their health than you do. Making informed decisions and researching for yourself can improve the quality of your life and even save your life. Following trendy medicine driven by a pharmaceutical industry can be deadly. There are no such things as drug “side effects”, they are ALL drug effects and statins have a laundry list of effects–mostly bad.
High cholesterol? Treat the symptoms and the cause remains. Treat the cause and the symptoms will fade away. Medical science can’t “cure” high cholesterol but now you can!
Authored by Cancer Nutritionist Craig Stellpflug NDC, CNC, Dayspring Cancer Clinic Scottsdale, AZ
Copyright 2012 Craig Stellpflug© Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this article but only in its entirety