Thursday, 28 July 2011 00:00

The Cholesterol Myths

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The idea that too much animal fat and high cholesterol are dangerous to your heart and blood vessels is nothing but a myth. Here is the truth!

The idea that too much animal fat and high cholesterol are dangerous to your heart and blood vessels is nothing but a myth. Here is the truth!

1. Cholesterol is not a deadly poison, but a substance vital to the cells of all mammals. There are no such things as good or bad cholesterol, but mental stress, physical activity and change of body weight may influence the level of blood cholesterol. A high cholesterol is not dangerous by itself, but may reflect an unhealthy condition, or it may be totally innocent.

Cholesterol is absolutely essential to life and your liver routinely makes 800-1500 mg per day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is important to every cell of your body. It provides needed rigidity to all cell membranes. Without adequate cholesterol, cell membranes become too fluid, and not rigid enough. If your cell membranes suddenly became totally devoid of cholesterol, your cells would explode from their internal water pressure like over-filled water balloons. Brain cells are particularly rich in cholesterol, the brain being about 7% cholesterol by dry weight.

One of cholesterol's most important functions is to serve as the basic raw material from which your body makes many major steroid hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, cortisone and aldosterone. Without these first three hormones you would have no sex life; without cortisone your body could not cope with stress; and without aldosterone your body could not properly balance your sodium and water levels.

Large amounts of cholesterol are found in the skin, where it makes the skin highly resistant to the absorption of water-soluble toxins. The skin's cholesterol also helps hold water in the body, so that loss of water through skin evaporation is only about half to one pint daily, instead of the four to ten quarts of water which would be lost if not for skin cholesterol.
Even your solid bones would be hollow and brittle, if not for cholesterol. Vitamin D, the chief nutrient and hormone regulator of body calcium an phosphorus metabolism, is also made from skin cholesterol. Natural sunlight hitting cholesterol in your skincell membranes turns the cholesterol into Vitamin D. And after further metabolic processing by liver and kidneys, vitamin D is the chief controller of how well your body absorbs dietary calcium and phosphorus.

A major portion (as high as 70%) of the body's cholesterol is used by the liver to produce bile salts. Bile salts are used during food digestion to emulsify fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K for proper absorption. Without these cholesterol-rich bile salts,your body could not absorb essential fatty-acids or the fat-soluble vitamins, and serious, even lethal, deficiency diseases would ensue. The liver, which is the body's poison control and detox organ, also dissolves some fat-soluble toxins in the bile salts. After these toxin-laden bile salts have been dumped into the intestine, they may then be excreted from the body in the feces.

2. A high blood cholesterol is said to promote atherosclerosis and thus also coronary heart disease. But many studies have shown that people whose blood cholesterol is low become just as atherosclerotic as people whose cholesterol is high.

Recent researchers did not find any connection between the degree of atherosclerosis and the blood cholesterol level; those who had a low cholesterol were just as atherosclerotic when the research participants died as those who had had a high cholesterol. The conclusion from many studies is that the level of cholesterol in the blood has little importance for the development of atherosclerosis, if any at all.

Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries is caused by a chronic response to inflammation triggered by elevated insulin levels. A test called C Reactive Protein measures inflammation, and several studies have shown that an elevated CRP score is positively correlated with atherosclerosis, diabetes, and autoimmune disease.

In fact, it's a well known fact that diabetics who receive insulin treatments on a daily basis are more likely to develop heart disease. Of course, most medical personnel tell diabetics to lower fat intake which makes the problem worse. A lower fat intake means a high carb intake which means more insulin must be inject, which further worsens plaque.

Many studies have confirmed that if you drip insulin into an artery, the artery will become inflamed. Eventually, fatty plaques will build up and block the artery. Studies have continuously demonstrated that arterial plaques are more likely to form in the presence of chronically high blood sugar and insulin levels.

3. Your body produces three to four times more cholesterol than you eat. The production of cholesterol increases when you eat little cholesterol and decreases when you eat much. This explains why a "prudent" diet cannot lower cholesterol more than on average a few per cent.

Actually, the low-fat, anti-cholesterol paradigm was a complete sham right from the outset. It began in the early 1900s when Russian researchers noted that feeding rabbits cholesterol caused a build-up of fatty deposits in their arteries. However - unlike humans - rabbits are herbivores. They are not metabolically equipped to eat animal products. (Plant foods do not contain cholesterol.)

In the mid 1950s, health authorities were at a complete loss to explain the rising prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD). Inspired by the utterly irrelevant findings of the Russian rabbit experiments, scientists began examining possible links between fat, cholesterol, and CHD in humans.

One of those individuals, Ancel Keys, plotted CHD death rates from a mere six countries on a graph, and was able to show an almost perfect correlation between fat consumption and CHD mortality.

But what Keys didn't share with his readers was the fact that he handpicked his data - even though relevant statistics were available for 22 countries. Other researchers demonstrated that when data from larger numbers of countries were included, the alleged association between fat and CHD vanished into thin air. Keys, however, was on the nutrition advisory committee of the powerful American Heart Association, and his erroneous theories were officially incorporated into AHA dietary guidelines in 1961.

The cholesterol theory of heart disease has been largely built upon "epidemiological" research, which examines disease trends among certain populations. Such population-based research can be useful in identifying leads for further research, but, due to many confounding factors, should never be used as conclusive proof of anything.

For example, one of the arguments commonly used in support of the lipid hypothesis is that countries with high levels of saturated fat consumption have the highest levels of heart disease. Sure they do. But they also have high levels of psychosocial stress, the highest consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates, polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and trans-fats, and the lowest levels of physical activity. All these factors have been implicated in the development of CHD.

4. There is no evidence that too much animal fat and cholesterol in the diet promotes atherosclerosis or heart attacks. For instance, more than twenty studies have shown that people who have had a heart attack haven't eaten more fat of any kind than other people, and degree of atherosclerosis at autopsy is unrelated with the diet.

Indeed, over the last six decades, numerous controlled studies have tested the effect of saturated fat restriction on cardiovascular and overall mortality. But supporters of the lipid hypothesis rarely mention them, instead focusing on the epidemiological data. That is because none of those controlled clinical trials have ever demonstrated a beneficial effect of saturated fat restriction or cholesterol lowering.

5. The only effective way to lower cholesterol is with drugs, but neither heart mortality or total mortality have been improved with drugs the effect of which is cholesterol-lowering only. On the contrary, these drugs are dangerous to your health and may shorten your life.

Ironically, statin drugs - the only cholesterol-lowering interventions that have demonstrated any ability to save lives - do not work by reducing heart attacks. A mountain of evidence shows that these drugs work via anti-clotting, anti-inflammatory, artery-dilating, and antioxidant mechanisms. Thankfully, taking toxic cholesterol drugs is not the only way to achieve those effects.

6. The new cholesterol-lowering drugs, the statins, do not prevent cardio-vascular disease. They stimulate cancer tumours, disturb the functions of the muscles, the heart and the brain and pregnant women taking statins may give birth to children with malformations more severe than those seen after thalidomide. Everyone who takes them is at risk from serious adverse effects, which can include arthritis, liver damage, pancreatitis, toxic epidermal necrolysis, rhabdomyolysis (muscle wasting), and nerve damage, among many others.

Statins, the drug that Big Pharma has convinced leading doctors to push on nearly everyone, have finally been subjected to the study that should have been done before being approved for sale. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that a large metastudy has shown that statins do not reduce death rates in people without established heart disease. Statins have no benefit for most people subjected to them.

It's been well-implanted in the modern medical mind—not to mention the general public's—that cholesterol is a great evil, and that we all need to go on low-fat diets and eat statins to cut it.

7. Many of these facts have been presented in scientific journals and books for decades but are rarely told to the public by the proponents of the diet-heart idea.

Naturally, Big Pharma isn't going to let any studies and setbacks slow their 162 billion dollars a year profits. They've already trotted out Dr. Steven Nissen, who put this spin on a study printed in The Journal of the American Medical Association (2010):

"Because mortality is low in primary-prevention patients, it is difficult to show a mortality benefit. This has been established previously. The primary benefit in this setting is reduction in nonfatal MI, which remains a worthwhile goal of therapy."

Let's parse that statement:

Mortality is low in primary-prevention patients is of course, true. That's because they don't have heart disease. They're healthy.

It is difficult to show a mortality benefit. Well...Duh! They're healthy. Why would taking a chemical be of any benefit in a healthy person? Only Big Pharma and modern medicine would suggest such a thing.

8. The reason why laymen, doctors and most scientists have been misled is because opposing and disagreeing results are systematically ignored or misquoted in the scientific press.
Since 1987, doctors have been pushing statin drugs to cure the disease of have-not-had-heart-attack-yet. From the beginning, thinking doctors and alternative practitioners have questioned the concept of treating a nonexistent disease. Basically, they were yelled down.

Bogus studies were trotted out, but the fact is that there was never a single legitimate study demonstrating any benefit from statin drugs in people who hadn't already had heart attacks—precious little benefit for men who had suffered them and none for women ever.

Of course, that hasn't stopped the pressure to take statins. They supposedly reduce cholesterol, but there's no proof of that, either.

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