Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Link Between Heart Disease & Cholesterol: Fact or Fallacy?

Heart disease is the number one killer in the world. One out of every two men and one out of every three women currently develop heart disease. The UK has one of the highest rates of death from heart disease in the world - one British adult dies from the disease every three minutes - and strokes are the country's third biggest killer, claiming 70,000 lives each year. Heart disease is the common name given to a range of conditions, including: Coronary artery disease (including heart attack) Abnormal heart rhythms or arrythmias Heart failure Heart valve disease Congenital heart disease Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) Pericardial disease Aorta disease and Marfan syndrome Vascular disease (blood vessel disease) Facts Before 1920, Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) was rare in America, but by the mid fifties it was the leading cause of death among Americans (which corresponds with most Western Countries). So what had changed? Whilst modern medicine would have us believe that this epidemic is the result of diets that are too high in cholesterol and saturated fat, here are some interesting facts that contradict that claim: between 1910 and 1970, animal fat consumption decreased from 83% to 62%; butter consumption decreased from 18 pounds to 4 pounds per year; and margarine, shortening and refined oils consumption increased by 400%. In order to determine the scientific validity of the proposed link, it is first essential to examine the role of cholesterol. Every cell membrane in our body contains cholesterol because cholesterol is what makes our cells waterproof – without cholesterol we could not have a different biochemistry on the inside and the outside of the cell. When cholesterol levels are not adequate, the cell membrane becomes leaky or porous; a situation the body interprets as an emergency, releasing a flood of corticoid hormones that work by taking cholesterol from one part of the body and transporting it to areas where it is lacking. Thus, low cholesterol – whether due to an innate error of metabolism or induced by cholesterol-lowering diets and drugs – can be expected to disrupt the production of adrenal hormones and lead to blood sugar problems, edema, mineral deficiencies, chronic inflammation, difficulty in healing, allergies, asthma, reduced libido, infertility and various reproductive problems (1). Other cholesterol facts: · Cholesterol is the body’s repair substance: scar tissue contains high levels of cholesterol. · The bile salts, required for the digestion of fat, are made of cholesterol. Those who suffer from low cholesterol often have trouble digesting fats. · Cholesterol also functions as a powerful antioxidant, thus protecting us against cancer and aging. · Cholesterol is vital to proper neurological function. About 17% of the human brain is composed of cholesterol. So what is happening when the body is producing a high amount of cholesterol? By going back to its function one could hypothesise that it is in a state of repair. From what? Ever heard of free-radicals? Try this on for size: "Once these naked, wildly destructive electrons [free radicals] are on the loose, they also eat holes in arteries that then attract nature's band-aid: cholesterol.” (2) So what happens when we take statins (cholesterol-reducing drugs)? “Instead of seeing cholesterol as a messenger of free radical overload, or a call to arms to find the underlying problem and fix it, we kill the messenger (cholesterol) with drugs. Unfortunately, the cholesterol-lowering drugs, act by inhibiting the enzyme HMG COA reductase, which turns off the body's ability to make coenzyme Q10. This deficiency guarantees that the victim will go on to get high blood pressure, heart failure, cancer or other consequences.” (2) Statins – the wonder drug? Statins, the new “wonder drugs” are currently the top-selling medicines in the world with annual sales of more than US$ 19 billion. In the UK according to the NHS, doctors wrote 31 million prescriptions for statins in 2003, up from 1 million in 1995 at a cost of 7 billion pounds. (3) That’s a lot of money being taken away from an already depleted health service to fund a drug that’s effectiveness in increasing life expectancy is questionable and has shown to cause serious side-effects. Here are just a few more facts about statins: “The November 2003 issue of Smart Money magazine reports on a 1999 study at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London (apparently unpublished), which found that 36 percent of patients on Lipitor’s highest dose reported side effects; even at the lowest dose, 10 percent reported side effects.” (1) “Active people are much more likely to develop problems from statin use than those who are sedentary. In a study carried out in Austria, only six out of 22 athletes with familial hypercholesterolemia were able to endure statin treatment. The others discontinued treatment because of muscle pain.” (1) Vioxx – another wonder drug It has however been estimated that one such wonder drug, Vioxx, could have caused 27,785 heart attacks or deaths since it was approved for use in 1999. In September 2004 Vioxx was withdrawn due to health fears. Today, more than 4,200 lawsuits have been filed against Merck, the company responsible for the drug, and yet still Merck’s lawyers claim that "there is no reliable scientific evidence that shows Vioxx causes cardiac arrhythmia.” (4) Why is cholesterol the enemy? Good question Dr Paul J. Rosch gives a better understanding of how results can be manipulated in his article “More on the Preposterous Polypill Panacea”. Rosch examines the new Polypill (a pill combining a statin and various other drugs, claiming to reduce heart disease by 80%) and outlines the concepts of how researchers use the terms ‘relative risk-reduction’, ‘absolute risk-reduction’ and ‘number needed’ to treat to spin the truth. This brings to mind a comment made by Harry Truman: “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” (5) Your 3d Coach Craig Burton References: (1) Fallon, S and Enig, M PhD., Dangers of statin drugs: what you haven’t been told about popular cholesterol-lowering medicines, available at (2) Dr. Sherry Rogers, Detox or Die, Sandkey Co., 2002 (3) Barrett, A and Carey, J. Business link online, Wondering about a wonder drug, November 22, 2004, available at (4) BBC News, US giant punished for faulty drug, 20/08/2005, available at [] (5) Rosch, P., More on the preposterous, Polypill Panacea, 08/06/2003, available at Craig Burton is the founder of 3d pts, a prominent European based holistic health and fitness coach with more than 15 years experience. He is a Sports Science graduate of Edith Cowan University and has postgraduate accreditations in nutrition, massage, athletic training, and corrective exercise therapy. Craig is the author of "The 21 Day Roadmap to Health", available at []. 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