The current value of the cholesterol-lowering drug industry is estimated at around US $ 29 billion, but research suggests the drugs have little beneficial effects, and can often cause more harm than good. Much of what is commonly believed about high cholesterol and how it relates to saturated fats, heart disease and strokes is wrong; scientific research linking high cholesterol to heart disease is actually weak
Statin drugs can wreak havoc with your health, and there’s compelling evidence that most people who currently take them simply do not need them The best ways to optimise your cholesterol levels and your heart health have to do with lifestyle measures, including eating healthy saturated fat.
by Dr Mercola
Millions of people around the world take medications known as statins to lower their cholesterol.
The current value of the cholesterol-lowering drug industry is estimated at around $29 billion — and this is clearly a conservative estimate considering spending on cholesterol drugs in the United States alone reached nearly $19 billion in 2010.
But have the facts about cholesterol and heart disease been distorted by drug companies eager to increase their profits?
There may be $29 billion very good reasons why … and this is the premise behind the new documentary film $29 Billion Reasons to Lie About Cholesterol (based on a book by the same name, authored by Justin Smith). As the film’s synopsis explains:
“So many resources are currently directed at cholesterol-lowering, however, a huge body of evidence suggests that this cholesterol-lowering is having little or no effect on people’s health. In fact, it may even be doing more harm than good.
“We want to present the facts about cholesterol to the general public. These facts are fully supported by published studies within the medical literature, but unfortunately they are hardly ever discussed.
” The pharmaceutical industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year promoting the idea that high cholesterol causes heart disease. The other side of the story receives very little attention. As a result, even doctors may have been misled; since they have only been exposed to the pharmaceutical industry’s viewpoint.”
Could it be possible that nearly everything your doctor and the media is telling you about high cholesterol and how it relates to saturated fats, heart disease and strokes is wrong?
Could it also be possible that the makers of statin drugs are generating massive ill-gotten profits of this completely misguided and patently incorrect medical dogma — while patients, maybe even you or someone you love, are risking poor health or even death as a result? Yes! And it’s time the word got out.
Does lower cholestrol really lead to better health?
A major clue that something is very off with the notion that high cholesterol causes heart disease can be found in this: even as cholesterol levels have become lower, rates of heart disease deaths have not followed suit!
In a report by Smith, it’s noted:
” … between 1994 and 2006 the percentage of men aged 65 to 74 with ‘high’ cholesterol decreased from 87% to 54% … Despite this, the rate of coronary heart disease for this age group stayed about the same … Other age groups have experienced an increase in the rate of heart disease as the number of people with ‘high’ cholesterol has decreased.”
Now here’s something you might find surprising: it turns out evidence linking high cholesterol to heart disease is actually weak, including the results of the Framingham Heart Study, which is often cited as proof of the lipid hypothesis (the notion that dietary fat leads to high cholesterol and causes heart disease).
The Framingham Heart Study began in 1948 and involved some 6,000 people from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts who filled out detailed questionnaires about their lifestyle habits and diets. The study is credited with identifying heart disease risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and, yes, high cholesterol.
Despite being widely publicized, the cholesterol link was weak, as researchers noted those who weighed more and had abnormally high blood cholesterol levels were slightly more at risk for future heart disease. What you don’t hear about is the fact that the more cholesterol and saturated fat people ate, the lower their cholesterol levels. In a 1992 editorial published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr. William Castelli, a former director of the Framingham Heart study, stated:
“In Framingham, Mass., the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol … We found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.”
Cholesterol is simply not the main perpetrator causing heart disease. Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a board certified cardiologist and a prominent expert in the field of natural cardiology, explained in a recent interview:
“Let’s face it, cholesterol is something your body needs. If you look at the MRFIT study [Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial] where they looked at 180,000 men over a period of… 13 years (1973-80); men with cholesterol of 330 had less hemorrhagic stroke than men with cholesterol less than 180. If you look at cholesterol numbers, the higher cholesterol number would give you protection from hemorrhagic stroke. (I’m not talking about ischemic stroke now but hemorrhagic stroke.)
“We need cholesterol in our skin to activate vitamin D3 from sunlight. We need cholesterol to make our sex hormones… to make our adrenal hormones. We need it for lubrication. We need it for neurotransmitter function in the brain. When LDL is driven too low, it’s no wonder that a lot of patients develop memory problems or pre-Alzheimer’s, or even total global amnesia, which is really losing one’s memory. It’s very frightful and I have seen several cases.… There are so many other aspects that in my mind play a much bigger role that I put cholesterol down at the low end of the spectrum.”
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