Breaking the Cholesterol Myth
Have you seen the latest drug commercial? You know, the one where
the guy is walking down a spiral stair case with numbers printed
on each step gradually going lower. He’s talking about how
your doctors have told you that now you need to get your cholesterol
even lower than you did before. It’s a myth; and a dangerous
one at that.
Let’s start with just a bit of very basic biology.
What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is part of a group of compounds
called sterols. Cholesterol is primarily produced by the liver,
however, every cell in the human body is also capable of making
What is the role of cholesterol? Cholesterol is used by the body
to form cholic acid which is then used to make bile salts. Bile
salts are necessary to digest fat. In addition, cholesterol is
necessary for the production of adrenal and reproductive hormones
such as DHEA, pregnenolone, progesterone, testosterone, estrogen,
aldosterone and cortisol. Cholesterol is also used to make the
skin impervious to water and other substances that may be harmful
to the body as well as to bind with toxins in the blood which
will then reduce inflammation protecting the nerves, brain tissue
Biology lesson over. We can now understand why cholesterol is
important. So why has it been give such a bad rap?
The myth started when scientists determined that there was a
correlation between cholesterol in the blood and heart disease.
If you had the wonderful opportunity to take any sort of research
classes in school, you might remember that a correlation doesn’t
mean anything. It simply means two things are present at the same
time. This is like circumstantial evidence, just because someone
is found holding the gun, doesn’t mean they pulled the trigger.
Working to lower cholesterol as a way to treat heart disease
is kind of like getting a bunion removed because you have a headache.
It’s important to note that cholesterol levels that are
too high should be addressed. But what is too high? It used to
be that what were considered normal were readings between 0 and
200. Anything above 200 was said to indicate heart disease. This
was recently lowered to 0 to 169. But why was it lowered? Statistics
show that heart disease rates are not improving. Despite statin
drugs that are designed to lower cholesterol, people are still
dying of heart attacks and more and more individuals are being
diagnosed with some form of heart disease. The drug manufacturers
certainly don’t want to admit that their drugs aren’t
working as intended (even though they are somewhat successful
at lowering cholesterol), so they decide that it’s because
the cholesterol levels are not low enough. If they drop the normal
ranges, then they can sell more drugs and pass the buck for the
continuing trend of heart disease.
The natural health experts are still out but there seems to be
an unwritten agreement that levels between 175 and 230 are ideal.
Levels below 150 or above 250 may indicate the need for more attention
but do not necessarily indicate heart disease. There are better
methods for determining the risk of heart disease; the ratio between
LDL and HDL for example. Better yet is a test gaining popularity
and much media attention for something called C-reactive Protein.
While it isn’t healthy to have extremely high cholesterol,
it also isn’t healthy to have very low cholesterol.
A short word about statin drugs
Despite no scientific evidence showing that statin drugs reduce
the risk of heart disease and despite evidence that they are not
as successful in the real world for treating cholesterol as they
had shown to be in the studies, statin drugs are one of the most
commonly over-prescribed drugs in the US. Statins have many side
effects, including increasing the risk for heart disease. Statins
deplete CoQ10, an important co-enzyme for cardiac health. In addition
they lower antioxidant levels, cause headaches, fatigue, memory
loss, difficulty sleeping, and, of course, liver damage.
It’s important to be proactive with your health. Don’t
let your doctors be the complete authority just as you wouldn’t
trust the salesman to give you all the details when making a large
purchase. Do your own homework.
Nicole Bandes is a Certified Herb Specialist that has worked
with clients for over 5 years. She recommends and uses Nature’s
Sunshine Products. To learn more about the recommendations discussed
in this article visit www.naturallyherbs.com. You can also set
up a phone or email conference with Nicole. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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