In today’s society, cholesterol is considered a villain. Everyone “knows” that high cholesterol “causes” heart disease. TV ads warn us that “diet and exercise may not be enough,” and drugs are increasingly prescribed to reduce cholesterol levels.

You may think you know what the problem of cholesterol is all about, but before you jump on the anti-cholesterol bandwagon, consider these studies:

* A 3 year study on 11,500 patients showed that low cholesterol resulted in increased lung cancer, increase in other cancers, higher risk of cardiac death, erectile dysfunction and infertility, and a loss of memory and mental focus. (European Heart Journal 1997, 18, 52-59)

* A Swedish researcher discovered that individuals with low cholesterol suffer from frequent and severe infections, while individuals with high cholesterol had a lower mortality than the average population. (Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, independent researcher Magle Stora Kyrkogata 9, S-223250 Lund, Sweden)

* A 30 years follow-up on one of the original studies linking cholesterol and heart disease showed no correlation between high cholesterol and mortality, but did show a correlation between low cholesterol and mortality. Death rates from coronary heart disease increased 14% for every 1 mg/dl drop in total cholesterol per year

(Anderson KM. Cholesterol and Mortality, 30 years of Follow-up from the Framingham study. JAMA 1987 Apr 24;257(16):2176-80)

* A paper in the Journal of Cardiac Failure on an analysis of 1,134 patients with heart disease showed that low cholesterol was associated with worse outcomes in heart failure patients and impaired survival rates. It also showed that elevated cholesterol was not associated with hypertension, diabetes or coronary heart disease.

(Horwich TB. Low Serum Total Cholesterol is Associated with Marked Increase in Mortality in Advanced Heart Failure. J Card. Fail. 2002 Aug;8(4):216-214)

High cholesterol is a “disease” that was created by the pharmaceutical industry in order to sell more cholesterol-lowering drugs, i.e., statins. These drugs have a high profit margin, so the lab ranges for cholesterol have been altered over the last 7-10 years so that more people will show up as having “high” cholesterol and be persuaded to take medications.

Normal (i.e., non-pathological) cholesterol ranges should be 175 to 275, with people with Blood Type O running at the higher end of this spectrum because of the way their body utilizes protein. Since, these are the pathological ranges, levels above or below these values mean the body is seriously imbalanced and probably diseased.

However, for optimal health, one should be in the middle third of this range. So healthy cholesterol should be between 208 and 242. Oddly enough people with these perfectly normal and healthy cholesterol ranges are being encouraged to take drugs to reduce their cholesterol to unhealthy low levels.

This is particularly bad considering that statins have a lot of potentially dangerous side effects. The common side effects of the statins include upset stomach, headache, fatigue, skin rash, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, erectile dysfunction, difficulty sleeping, nightmares and peripheral neuropathy. Another common side effect is liver damage.

Statins deplete CoQ10, an important co-enzyme for cardiac health. Since the real cause of heart disease is oxidative damage and inflammation, lowering CoQ10 can actually increase your risk of dying of heart disease.

A very serious side effect of statins is their tendency to cause inflammation of the muscles and create muscle damage. The inflammation makes the muscles painful. If the inflammation is severe enough, the cells in the inflamed muscle tissue may disintegrate (a process called rhabdomyolysis). They then release myoglobin, a protein present in very large amounts within the muscle cells, into the blood. The myoglobin reaches the kidneys, damages them and may even cause them to fail. In some cases, the kidneys may recover; however the damage to the kidneys from the myoglobin may be permanent and necessitate lifelong kidney dialysis.

So, before you take statin drugs to reduce your cholesterol, do a little research on the dangers of low cholesterol. There are other ways of protecting yourself from heart disease that are much more effective.

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