The Cholesterol Controversy

Author: Suzan Macco, R.N.

 

cholesterol.jpgWhy worry about it anyway? Because you've been told that high cholesterol causes heart attack & stroke? And then you may be encouraged to take another pill...most likely a "statin" drug. 

All drugs have side effects that could prove worse than the disease itself, but these drugs in particular have been reported to cause problems from memory loss and muscle destruction to sudden death as they cause the body's CoQ10 levels to become depleted.

It is worth your while, and your life, to explore a natural alternative to accomplish healthy cholesterol levels.

The following are some of the popular statin drugs available:

  • Lipitor (atorvastatin)
  • Lescol (fluvastatin)
  • Mevacor (lovastatin)
  • Pravachol (pravastatin)
  • Zocor (simvastatin)
  • Crestor (rosuvastatin)

and now the new cholesterol-lowering kid on the block, Zetia (ezetimibe). And just yesterday, (1/14/08) I heard on the news that Zetia offers no benefit at all, and may even enhance plaque formation! Here is one report...

The following list shows some of the side effects taken from MedlinePlus Drug information

Atorvastatin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • dizziness
  • joint pain
  • sore throat
  • upper respiratory infection

Some side effects can be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience any of them, call your doctor immediately:

  • muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness
  • lack of energy
  • fever
  • chest pain
  • swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • nausea
  • extreme tiredness
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • loss of appetite
  • pain in the upper right part of the stomach
  • flu-like symptoms
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • hoarseness
  • pain during urination
  • frequent urge to urinate

 

Sadly, they don't even mention the cases of memory loss reported. You might want to read the book Thief Of Memory  by former NASA Scientist, Duane Graveline, who tells of his terrible side effects from Lipitor. In support of this, here is an article by the well known Dr. Julian Whitaker on Statins and Memory Loss, as reported in the recent online issue of "Virginia Hopkins Health Watch" sent to me on 1/16/08. 

There have also been concerns reported over the fact that six of the nine Panelists of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), responsible for writing the guidelines for acceptable cholesterol levels, had financial ties to drug companies.

Statins are the all-time highest selling pharmaceutical drugs in history, with companies like Pfizer breaking the 10 billion dollar mark in 2004 with their prized drug Lipitor.

Contrary to what the Pharmaceutical Industry is pushing, recent studies indicate that patients with high cholesterol live longer than those with low cholesterol. Not only that, an amazing discovery back in 1969 by Dr. Kilmer McCully, a Pathologist, demonstrated that cholesterol levels were actually found to be normal in over 70% of heart attack victims who died. The American Journal of Pathology, 1969, had even published those findings.

It was Dr. McCully's determination that led to reports that "homocysteine" was the cause of heart disease. In addition to affecting the heart, it may contribute to Macular Degeneration, and a host of other things as well. This information fell on deaf ears for years, and still does today by many in the Medical & Pharmaceutical Industries.

The catalyst for damage to the arteries is exposure to free radicals, toxins, and homocysteine all working together to cause oxidation (the same process that causes a cut apple to turn brown), which in turn causes inflammation in the arteries. This inflammation then leads to plaque build-up.

Focus of treatment :

...then must be to stop plaque formation from oxidative damage by:

  1. Reducing exposure to free radicals (emotional & physical stress, pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, herbicides, toxins)
  2. Reduction of homocysteine levels
  3. Repairing free radical damage with antioxidants

 

Antioxidants & Nutrients For Healthy Hearts :

Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10)- an essential nutrient needed for production of energy in every cell. It normally diminishes as we age which makes supplementation wise, even in healthy people. Statin drugs dangerously deplete CoQ10 levels, making supplementation even more important for those who take statins. CoQ10 provides many benefits; a few of those being immune system enhancement, antiaging, circulatory support, tissue oxygenation, antihistamine properties, tumor reduction in cancer, strengthens the heart muscle, and improves blood pressure, treats gum disease, and more. Take CoQ10 with oily foods like fish for best absorption.

Vitamin C- I can't stress the importance of it enough.  It needs to be obtained through your diet. Humans just don't produce it. (See article). Vitamin C helps rebuild collagen for arterial wall integrity and prevention of plaque build-up. It helps reduce inflammation in the body which lowers CRP levels. CRP levels are an indicator of  inflammation in the body.

Grape Seed Extract- A great partner to Vitamin C as an arterial wall and cholesterol antioxidant. Together, they regenerate Vitamin E. It promotes healthy circulation and protects cells from free radical damage. It helps prevent plaque formation, and is said to be 20 times more potent than Vitamin C, and 50 times stronger than Vitamin E. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. Grape seed extract is one of only a few that can penetrate the blood brain barrier to protect the brain and nerve tissue.

Omega-3/6 Fatty Acids- In a 1/1 ratio From flax oil, and Black currant seed oil, or borage oil, or Evening Primrose Oil. This ratio is a studied approach.  They help reduce heart beat irregularities and blood clots, and help to normalize blood pressure. Studies have shown a 45% reduction in risk of sudden death and repeat heart attacks with use of Omega Fatty Acids. They have also been reported to reduce CRP levels mentioned earlier,which makes sense, since their role as an anti-inflammatory is huge. From arthritis,  to cancer, to mood disorders, OFA's importance is obvious. Great reading on this can be found in the book ,  The Healing Power of Flax, The Definative Guide by Herb Joiner-Bey, N.D.

B Vitamins- a combo of B6, B12, and Folic Acid, which help reduce homocysteine- a known risk factor for heart disease- by converting homocysteine to cysteine. In her book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fourth Edition (Avery, 2006), Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, states that "Pyridoxine (Vit B6) is involved in more bodily functions than almost any other single nutrient. It affects both physical and mental health". B12 is needed to convert homocysteine into methionine, which is then used to build protein. It is the "unconverted"  homocysteine that may be toxic to the blood vessel lining and cause clotting and plaque build-up. Folate is another important regulator of homocysteine levels. It is also important in the brain, energy production, immune function, and is involved in DNA & RNA synthesis.

Vitamin E- It's been said that "E" is for Everything. It not only protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation, but protects ALL organ tissues from oxidation. Vitamin E influences activity of several enzymes in the body. It protects other fat soluble vitamins (A,D, & K) from being destroyed by oxygen, and helps the body to use Vitamin A. It is important to know that your supplement is natural and not synthetic. The synthetic version is said to be only 67% active compared to natural. Look for d-alpha-tocopherol & tocotrienols, NOT dl-alphatocopherol or allrac alpha-tocopherol, which are synthetic.

Magnesium- Helps control heart rhythm and blood pressure, and protects the lining of arteries. It supports the immune system, is involved in enzyme systems, plays a role in kidney stone formation, and helps the body to absorb calcium and potassium.

Alpha-lipoic Acid  (ALA)- Has powerful antioxidant properties. It is a valuable free radical scavenger since it is both water AND fat soluble.  ALA  stimulates glutathione production which then contributes to antioxidant activity of free radicals. It helps the body to absorb CoQ10, inhibits inflammation and plaque build-up, and works with magnesium to control blood pressure and reduce insulin sensitivity in diabetics.

Green Tea Extract- Contains polyphenols which have antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral activity. It lowers LDL cholesterol, prevents clotting, and also plays a role in Cancer prevention. Epigallocatechin gallate, or "EGCG", is the type of polyphenol which has shown it's ability to get into the body's cells and protect the DNA from free radical damage.

In Summary

It is important to discuss health issues with your Doctor before making any changes. However, YOU are in charge of what you actually allow into your body. As you can see from the nutrient descriptions above, they all have very specific functions, but also provide a synergistic effect in the presence of each other, or are dependent on another. Taking one or two alone will not provide optimum effect. It would be dificult to decide which to leave out. You must also find quality supplements that deliver what they claim, are bioavailable, are third party tested, and GMP certified. I have found a complete, well-balanced supplement that has all of the above nutrients together in one package. They can be found in the Usana "Essentials", seen in the Products section.

Another resource is:

Cholesterol%20Conspiracy"The Cholesterol Conspiracy, 2nd Edition by Ladd McNamara, M.D. provides well over 200 medical references documenting the true cause of heart disease and atherosclerosis, ...which is oxidation and inflammation. Many people are prescribed statin drugs to lower their cholesterol, and it certainly lowers your cholesterol, but at what cost, and to what benefit?"

Find it here at Dr. McNamara's site>

 

Knowledge is power. Exert your power!