It was back in the 1990s that I first came across the theory that cholesterol blocks arteries (particularly the heart arteries) and thus causes heart attacks and deaths. This was followed by the assertion that the way to reduce death by heart attack was to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and thus reduce the blockages.
My doctor suggested that I take one of the Statin pills each day and this would reduce my cholesterol. Since I have lived a very healthy life and hardly ever swallow a pill I thought that this was a very retrograde step as the evidence seemed to be rather slim. Actually I thought it was non-existent but then I hadn't really tried to find the evidence so I wasn't sure what the truth was.
So, on the advice of my doctor I went on a low cholesterol diet for a year and at the end of that year my level of cholesterol was exactly the same as at the beginning - 7.6. A friend of mine found exactly the same thing and I discovered that the truth is that the body manufactures as much cholesterol as it wants no matter how little we eat. This is basic physiology taught to all medical school students. How strange!
So I dragged around the internet as it then was and came across a book called "The Cholesterol Myths", written by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD. I learned that they had burned this book in the streets in Finland so I just had to get a copy.
One of the first things to understand when examining the various findings over the years is that statistical correlation is not the same thing as causation. In science we are always concerned to understand cause and effect. Sir Isaac Newton saw the apple falling from the tree. He asked himself what caused this. The answer he came up with was gravity. Giving a thing a name isn't exactly an answer but this thought led on to the idea that gravity was an attracting force that effected all bodies, even heavenly bodies and led to Newton's famous laws of motion. If we are interested in having our medicine evidence based then we obviously need to show the cause of the effect. Statistical studies showing that two variables vary in the same way does not tell us that one caused the other.
A lot of health "information" is the result of a statistical analysis showing a certain degree of correlation but fails to show any proof of cause and effect.
Studies have shown that men in black uniforms are very frequently seen around house fires in the city. Do we conclude that these men in black cause the fire? Suspicion just ain't enough!
Uffe's book successfully debunks many well held beliefs, by showing that what we thought we knew just is not proven.
He showed that:
High fat foods do not cause heart disease,
High cholesterol does not cause heart disease,
High-fat foods do not raise blood cholesterol,
Cholesterol does not block arteries,
Animal studies do not prove any link between diet and heart disease,
Lowering your cholesterol will not lengthen your life,
Polyunsaturated fats are not good for you,
The cholesterol campaign is based on faulty science.
All in all a very enlightening book!
What about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol?
Cholesterol is used to form the skin over each cell in our bodies. It forms the membrane that lets food and oxygen into the cell and allows carbon dioxide and waste out of the cell. Without cholesterol life would not be possible.
Cholesterol is manufactured by the liver in quantities that suit your body and each molecule is carried out to the cells by a low density lipid. A high density lipid is also sent out in the blood stream and its function is to collect cholesterol molecules that come from dead cells and carry them back to the liver.
It is a bit difficult to arrive at the conclusion that the low density lipid (LDL) cholesterol is "BAD". If we had no cholesterol keeping our cell walls in place we would die. It certainly seems to be more necessary than the "GOOD" cholesterol!
This GOOD vs BAD cholesterol theory promoted by TIME magazine seems to be no more than fear tactics to get people emotionally concerned about LDL. How convenient that Statin Drugs are good at reducing LDL.
The discussion so far has been fairly superficial. I have been talking about cholesterol and not proving anything about it. However, you will remember that it is easy to prove a theory is wrong. We only have to show one thing that the theory doesn't allow for and the theory is wrong.
I find it very interesting that when I search for the truth behind the cholesterol myths I find evidence that quite clearly refutes ALL of the many minor theories promoted by those who would profit from our cholesterol beliefs.
The first cardiologist I talked to about cholesterol told me he thought that arterial blockage was caused by inflammation. The second was a Professor of Cardiology and he thought that was as good an explanation as any.
The third cardiologist confessed that they just did not know what caused arterial blockage.
So, are we really in a state of total ignorance?
You will be amazed to know that one of the most famous chemists of the 20th Century has developed a theory of arterial heart disease. His name is Dr. Linus Pauling.
Pauling wrote his theory in conjunction with a Medical Doctor (Dr. Rath) and Pauling and Rath's theory of CVD is so scientifically compelling and demonstrable that in 1994 they were granted the only US patent for the cure of cardiovascular disease.
The link to his site is here: (http://www.paulingtherapy.com/) and his theory is written up as a PDF and can be found at the bottom of the front page.
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His paper starts off with:
"An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiar with the idea from the beginning." - Max Planck
This paper is dedicated to the young physicians and the medical students of this world.
Until now therapeutic concepts for human cardiovascular disease (CVD) were targeting individual pathomechanisms or specific risk factors. On the basis of genetic, metabolic, evolutionary, and clinical evidence, we present here a unified pathogenetic and therapeutic approach.
Ascorbate deficiency is the precondition and common denominator of human CVD. Ascorbate deficiency is the result of the inability of man to synthesize ascorbate endogenously in combination with insufficient dietary intake.
The invariable morphological consequences of chronic ascorbate deficiency in the vascular wall are the loosening of the connective tissue and the loss of the endothelial barrier function. Thus human CVD is a form of pre-scurvy.
The multitude of pathomechanisms that lead to the clinical manifestation of CVD are primarily defense mechanisms aiming at the stabilization of the vascular wall.
After the loss of endogenous ascorbate production during the evolution of man these defense mechanisms became life-saving. They counteracted the fatal consequences of scurvy and particularly of blood loss through the scorbutic vascular wall.
These countermeasures constitute a genetic and a metabolic level.
The genetic level is characterized by the evolutionary advantage of inherited features that lead to a thickening of the vascular wall, including a multitude of inherited diseases.
The metabolic level is characterized by the close connection of ascorbate with metabolic regulatory systems that determine the risk profile for CVD in clinical cardiology today.
The most frequent mechanism is the deposition of lipoproteins, particularly lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)], in the vascular wall.
With sustained ascorbate deficiency, the result of insufficient ascorbate uptake, these defense mechanisms overshoot and lead to the development of CVD.
Premature CVD is essentially unknown in all animal species that produce high amounts of ascorbate endogenously.
In humans, unable to produce endogenous ascorbate, CVD became one of the most frequent diseases.
The genetic mutation that rendered all human beings today dependent on dietary ascorbate is the universal underlying cause of CVD.
Optimum dietary ascorbate intake will correct this common genetic defect and prevent its deleterious consequences.
Clinical confirmation of this theory should largely abolish CVD as a cause for mortality in this generation and future generations of mankind.
– (Ascorbate is Vitamin C)
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This theory is compelling and has never been proven false.
Two years ago I developed CVD and had two stents inserted into my heart arteries to improve the blood flow. This is when I really needed to know the truth.
If I followed Pauling's theory I should be taking large doses of vitamin C and this would allow the body to use the vitamin C to repair the damage to my arteries and make them strong and supple again.
The World Health recommendation is 0.06 grams of Vitamin C per day. I have been taking about 3 or 4 grams a day for the past year. I have discovered but not confirmed that a 70 Kg goat produces about 13 grams per day and under stress will produce 100 grams.
Now if Pauling's theory is right then the vitamin C will start repairing the problems with my arteries and the body will no longer attempt to solve the problem by using cholesterol, calcium and other blood products to stiffen up my arteries. If this is so then perhaps I could expect my cholesterol level to fall to more like the normal for the population (around 6) as the body now has enough Vitamin C to do its job properly.
My last result for the cholesterol level in my blood was 6.2.
That which is predicted by the theory has been shown to be correct.
I now have more confidence in the Pauling theory than before.
I do wish the Medical Profession would set out to try and disprove the Pauling theory. We obviously can't leave it to the Statin drug makers to do that job! As long as they do not prove it wrong it seems to be the best theory currently promoted.
© Copyright; Foundation for Economic Growth and various authors. Individual authors retain their own copyright.
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