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Cholesterol…Why does this word strike fear into our hearts?

Today we have such a fear of cholesterol, that Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug is the number one prescription drug in North America. Eighty-five per cent of all cardiologists take one form or another of statin drugs to lower their cholesterol and of course they convey their fears of high cholesterol to all their patients. The evening news and many prime time television shows are brought to you by Zocor, Pravacol, Lipitor and Crestor, all drugs that lower cholesterol. If you read Time Magazine, the second or third page is sometimes a full-page ad showing a dead body at a morgue with a tag around the toe, “John Doe, high cholesterol”. The ad insinuates that if this man had taken Lipitor, the outcome might have been different. So what is this dreaded stuff cholesterol and what does it actually do to us?

The cholesterol levels that are measured in Canada are made up of two components, LDL (low density lipid protein) and HDL (high density lipid protein) and the healthy range level of these two combined is between 5.2 and 5.8 mg/ml blood protein. The function of cholesterol is to heal oxidation damages that occur in your body during your waking hours. These are usually caused by free oxygen radicals, internal scaring from surgeries or even damages inflicted by microbes and chemicals in the air that we breathe and the water that we drink.

In the evening, once you fall asleep your liver starts manufacturing cholesterol in response to the amount of repairs that are necessary. They call the LDL cholesterol the bad one because it is a very sticky gooey substance that travels through the blood stream and applies itself to damages in almost the same manner as a road repair crew would apply tar to a pothole. The HDL, or so-called good cholesterol is a liquid in which the excess LDL is dissolved and subsequently washed out of your body. The repairs are made and everything is fine. What the drug companies do not tell you is that if a drug reduces the ability of the liver to manufacture sufficient levels of cholesterol to repair your damages, these damages will not be fixed and you could suffer from a multitude of diseases and illnesses, none of which are directly related to cholesterol levels. They also do not like to admit that 80% of people who suffer a heart attack or a stroke have normal or below normal levels of cholesterol. (JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association Dec 2001)

In the last ten years, the medical profession has put forth two cholesterol theories. The first one said that as damages are repaired, the arterial wall becomes thicker and thicker with cholesterol plaque and eventually there is no room for the blood to pass through the artery and you have a heart attack. The second theory was that as the arterial wall became laden with thicker and thicker levels of LDL cholesterol, the mere mass and weight of the substance would cause the wall to collapse and hence the blood flow stops thus creating a heart attack. The truth is that the arterial plaque that accumulates with aging is called arteriosclerosis and is usually caused by a combination of unhealthy foods and a sedentary life style. Cholesterol is a natural healing substance of the body and high levels are merely an indication of other problems. If the oil indicator light went on in your car, what would you do? Would you put some oil in the crankcase or would you turn off the oil indicator sensor? Cholesterol is simply an indicator and not a cause of illness. Taking statins impairs the ability of the liver to produce cholesterol and thus allows many harmful conditions to go unrepaired. A number of studies have shown a correlation between the increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and the widespread use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. As we age, free-radical damage to our brains becomes more and more prevalent. Limiting the ability of our bodies to repair these damages may be one of the reasons why, before the statins drugs came on the market, Alzheimer’s disease was truly rare and today it has moved up to become the fourth leading cause of death in our country,

If you do have very high levels of cholesterol, you can bring them down to the normal range by limiting the amount of work this substance must do. Taking ant-oxidant supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Co Q10, glutathione, grapeseed extract, pycnogenol etc greatly reduces the amount of free radical damage caused by breathing in oxygen all day long. This means less work for your liver, which now does not have to produce nearly as much cholesterol. A regular exercise routine in which your body is in constant motion for 35 to 45 minutes daily will burn sufficient toxins and chemicals and excrete them through the pores of your skin. This also reduces the levels of cholesterol needed and usually within 3 to 6 months of such a program, cholesterol levels are reduced by at least 15%. However, if you are a healthy individual they will not drop below the accepted normal levels of 5.2 to 5.8 mg.

If you are taking a statin drug and you are experiencing muscle pain, stop the drug because this is the main side effect of cholesterol lowering drugs. If your cholesterol levels are in the normal range, try and convince your doctor to let you stop taking the drug. If you have a history of heart attacks or strokes, the damage caused by these incidents has caused your body to produce high levels of cholesterol. If you artificially impair your body’s ability to repair these damages, you will probably continue to have serious heart and circulatory problems.

Cholesterol is a natural occurring substance produced by your liver. Without this substance, you would die in 24 hours. Do not be afraid of it but be very wary of the greedy pharmaceutical companies that want to profit from your fear.