Friday, August 27, 2010

Cholesterol Will Kill You....Not So Fast

Now look at the same chart on the right that he talks about in the video.  Dr. Malcolm Kendrick MD compiled  World Health Organization statistics from several European countries and results from urban Australian Aborigines.  The cholesterol scores range from that study equate to US total cholesterol standard measures of 174 (4.5) up to 243 (6.4)  As any person (no medical experience needed) with eyes can see, the Aborigines had the lowest cholesterol and the highest death rate from heart disease.  

Conventional wisdom tells us that cholesterol causes heart disease.  How can these numbers be right?  Well, because cholesterol does not cause heart disease and that hypothesis has been wrong from the beginning.  It is related to the saturated fat myth I talked about here.

Cholesterol is an extremely important component to human life.  The liver makes it in large amounts because we need it, not to kill us.  Even the most "unhealthy" diet filled with meat, eggs, and butter cannot come close to how much cholesterol our body produces on a daily basis. Cholesterol is an essential component in cell walls, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and bile.  Bile is necessary to help us absorb Vitamins E, D, A, and K.  

We cannot live without cholesterol and we put ourselves at risk if cholesterol gets too low.
"In the Framingham Heart Study, in subjects over 50 years of age they found an 11% increase overall and 14% increase in CVD mortality per 1 mg/dL per year drop in total cholesterol levels."
What this means is for every 38 points in cholesterol drop there was an 11% overall risk increase of death.  There is a sweet spot for cholesterol of about 160 to 240 that allows for the least risk of overall mortality and the optimal use of cholesterol for basic bodily functions.  If you are in the middle of that range, don't get overly concerned with managing your cholesterol.

Primitive man ate a lot of cholesterol, perhaps much more than our daily recommendations.  Heart disease was not prominent in primitive man.  So the question is, what has changed in our diet that could cause heart disease?

Here are a few more thought provoking videos on this subject:
Exposing the Cholesterol Myth



Anonymous said...

Great post.

Can we assume the Aborigines should raise their cholesterol to reduce the incidence of heart disease for them? Why is their cholesterol so low? Can they raise it by changing their diet? What is their diet?

Where does the LDL/HDL mix fit in this?

What should you do if you are above or below the sweet spot of 160-240? Again, is there a sweet spot for LDL and HDL too - or just total?


Chuck said...

Honestly cholesterol is worried about way too much in my opinion. The overall number is not super important because most people fall into a safe range. Small LDL particles are something that very few know about but everyone should be concerned with.

Blood tests should include a LDL ratio rating. There are large LDL particles and small LDL particles. You want your LDL particles to be big and not small. The small ones contribute to artery clogging.

For more on this, read this link from cardiologist Dr. William Davis. He went to med school at OSU and trained at University Hospital of Cleveland. I love his blog, very informative.