Most of the people we talk with about health and nutrition issues tell us they know this about cholesterol:
- High cholesterol can cause heart attacks
- Everyone should reduce the amount of cholesterol they eat
- There is a bad form and a good form of cholesterol, and it’s the bad cholesterol that causes heart attacks
- LDL is bad cholesterol; HDL is the good form
- To get rid of LDL, you need to be on statins, like Crestor or Lipitor
- Statins will protect you against having a heart attack
Do you tend to agree? Chances are you have nodded your head throughout the entire list. And for good reasons: science and medical authorities, the media, families, and friends have long accepted cholesterol as a health threat and, since 1986, statins as the means to mitigate the threat.
Consider the following quotation from the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in their September 2012 bulletin:
After nearly 100 years of exploration, we now have four lines of persuasive evidence—experimental, genetic, epidemiologic, and therapeutic—that implicate the cholesterol-carrying LDL particle as the primary cause of atherosclerosis. Very few, if any, chronic diseases of adults have ever been subjected to such intensive research, and in very few, if any, chronic diseases of adults has the cause been so convincingly demonstrated in so many ways.
That’s a pretty impressive, conclusive statement, and it should inspire confidence that the correct medical remedy is one that sets out to reduce LDL cholesterol.
But the HHMI opinion is not without its doubters, including scientists and medical people who are becoming increasingly vocal and whose statements seem as credible as HHMI’s.
Consider the work of Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a researcher with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and her team. She disputes previous conclusions that cholesterol is a heart threat, and she does it with the same measure of confidence we find in the HHMI Bulletin quoted above. Here is one of her research conclusions published in her online article “How Statins Really Work Explains Why They Don’t Really Work”:
My research has uncovered compelling evidence that the nutrient that is most crucially needed to protect the heart from atherosclerosis is cholesterol sulphate.
Seneff’s on-going reevaluation of cholesterol significantly challenges widespread views on the role of cholesterol and statins. Her work points, instead, to a lack of dietary sulphur combined with excessive amounts of sugars, especially fructose, as the cause of atherosclerosis.
More than that, Dr. Seneff argues that statins are, in fact, causing much of the damage they are intended to prevent as they block the production of LDL. In fact, she and her team are very clear that they believe more cholesterol, not less, is what people need. Yow!
As more research emerges and contradicts established thought and practice, the more difficult it becomes for patients and doctors alike to determine the best course of action: Statins or not? Egg yolks or egg whites? Is cholesterol good or is cholesterol bad? How are you to think?
Up until now, patients have learned to accept their doctors’ advice: Take a statin drug to lower cholesterol levels. Even patients wary of statins, suspicious they may not be a safe or effective remedy, nevertheless attempt to lower cholesterol by avoiding cholesterol-rich foods.
Then along comes Dr. Seneff recommending more cholesterol, championing foods rich in sulphur compounds, and claiming statins can acerbate cardio-vascular disease, in part by reducing the production of CoQ10 in the heart and by causing the buildup of a special form of LDL particles in the arteries leading to the heart. What are you to do?
In our opinion, the first thing to do is to become as informed as possible because you need to have some intelligent conversations with your doctor and make some good decisions that will put you in charge of your own health and maybe save your life.
We want to support your efforts to become better informed. So, in the next two blogs, we’ll share what we’ve learned and detail some of Dr. Seneff’s most significant findings—findings that challenge the list at the beginning of this blog, especially those points concerning LDL. We’ll summarize Seneff’s position and discussion about cholesterol sulphate, fructose, and the miraculous work of your own liver.
Meanwhile, we’ll end the present blog with a short-list that details all the good things that cholesterol does to promote good health. These are a few facts that are not in dispute:
- Your body uses cholesterol to manufacture steroids, or cortisone-like hormones, including the sex hormones: no cholesterol, no babies!
- Your body uses cholesterol to make vitamin D3, so essential to your health yet missing in most people’s bodies.
- Your body uses cholesterol to help form the bile acids used for digestion.
- Your body uses cholesterol to keep your brain functioning optimally by helping form the protective layer over your nerves and preventing dysfunction.
- Your body uses cholesterol in the brain to help with retaining memory and building new ones, especially important in senior years.
- Your body uses cholesterol to give cells structural integrity, significantly reducing the problems of aging.
And there’s much more, but you can see even from this short-list, that tampering with your body’s production and utilization of cholesterol is a very serious matter. If we don’t get it right, we’re in big trouble.
Here’s to getting it right,
Gloria and Jerre