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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Consensus On Cholesterol Is Avoid Statins

That old saying, "Ask and you shall receive" was definitely appropriate when it came to the subject of cholesterol and statin drugs. After blogging about my doctor wanting me to go back on a statin drug again, many of you felt compelled to e-mail me or comment about this. I'd like to highlight those comments for you in this post.

"An LDL of 170 does seem pretty high. I was told it should be under 100."

That's what we've all been "told," but is it absolutely necessary that LDL be less than 100? That was my question.

Another reader posted a comment that I should "find another doctor." Well, I like my doctor even if he is a stickler when it comes to traditional methods for treating conditions such as high cholesterol.

Fellow low-carb weight loss success story, Kent Altena, said he hasn't had to deal with high cholesterol problems even before his weight loss, but that his lipid profile has improved vastly since he started livin' la vida low-carb. He had some tips to share, though.

"The only suggestions I would have is perhaps to eat closer to Induction level carbs again as the additional sugar near CCLL levels can indeed levels and perhaps add some ground flax meal into your diet."

That's not a bad idea, Kent. I increased my carb consumption to about 100-125g daily once I reached my weight loss goal, but maybe bringing this down to 60g daily could do the trick. I'll consider this as an option. I already consume flax seeds fairly regularly, but wouldn't be opposed to increasing my consumption of it.

Several people made reference to what Dr. Eades has said about LDL and I asked my doctor specifically about that. Like I said in my previous post, we will check for that in August 2006 to see if my LDL are the healthy "fluffy" or the smaller dense kind.

Another common treatment that was mentioned to me was red rice yeast. One reader shared a story about how this helped someone she knew lower her total cholesterol.

"My friend's mom took it for 6 months and hers went from 230 to 180 for total. The other numbers improved too. Doctors are never happy are they?"

Mine certainly wasn't impressed with my HDL and triglyceride numbers that were probably better than HIS! LOL! Oh well. I like the red rice yeast suggestion and will certainly look into that.

Another reader suggested checking out the work of Dr. Hoffman, a radio health show host and fellow colleague of Dr. Atkins for many years. His web site with lots of great tips for lowering cholesterol is DrHoffman.com.

A well-respected reader and friend to this blog said I have "very little to worry about" regarding my cholesterol numbers.

"High total cholesterol has been shown to be protective and healthy: it's the ratio's that are all-important and not the total number. That's simplistic measuring for simplistic people. Your triglycerides and HDL ratio's are very good and overall I would say that your vital biomarkers are excellent. The entire cholesterol discussion is for the most part a total hyperbole and benefits only Big Pharma. Remember: it is a well-documented scientific fact that those with the highest cholesterol readings tend to live the longest lives. Period."

Well, that gets my hopes up that I need not worry (and I'm not worrying about it at all). In fact, I told my doctor that I don't think we are in crisis mode just yet and I'd like to see how well we can get the LDL cholesterol down naturally.

In an e-mail from one of my readers, she believes drugs are not the answer.

"The only real thing doctors know about the drugs they prescribe us is what the pharmaceutical companies tell them. Think about it. They are human just like we are. I'm here to tell you be proud of your accomplishment. Why do you think the Atkins diet is so put down? If the doctors would start prescribing low carb, then the pharmaceutical companies would go out of business!"

Wouldn't that be funny?! But it's not gonna happen, is it?

"I'm by no means an expert, but I would definitely wait a few months and get retested before I did anything. This might have been a mistake or just a fluke reading. If your LDL can jump that much in 6 months on it's own then it can definitely come back down as well. Then (obviously) pray for wisdom and go with the plan that you think is best for you and your family."

That's a good point. It is suspicious that EVERY OTHER AREA of my blood work was fantastic and improved over my October 2005 numbers EXCEPT for my LDL, which increased my total cholesterol. That's why the four month period my doctor is giving me to get my LDL down is going to be important. I'm gonna prove to him that it was just a "fluke."

A friend from LowCarbScoop.com said taking a statin would be a mistake.

"Tell your doctor to stick his statins where the sun don't shine - so to speak. You already know how sick you can get by taking them. Don't forget, the statins stop you from making your own Co-Q-10 as well, which is needed for muscle growth and repair...and what is your heart made of (hmmmm, could it be... MUSCLE??). Statins are a huge moneymaker for the drug companies and their perky cheerleader type salespeople are pushing them very hard on your doctor. The more he prescribes, the more perks he gets from them. Check out RealHealthBreakthroughs.com by Dr. W.C. Douglass and do a search on statin drugs. He is vehemently against them for the reasons I stated above. DON'T DO IT, MAN!!!!"

LOL! Do you sense a bit of cynicism in her comments?! Hee hee! I love it and appreciate the link and information, Shayne!

Another educated reader sent me a couple of PDF files detailing a study on LDL and that doctors today are behind the times. She told me that her own experience has show her there's nothing to worry about.

"On the day I turned 62 years old, my LDL went up. I am not going to bite at this time because I think statin drugs do more harm than good."

I have nightmares just thinking about what those statin drugs did to my joints and muscles. I'll take my chances on the LDL, too!

The web site recommendations continued with another reader pointing me to visit this one and this one to learn more about why cholesterol readings are not as important as most medical professionals think.

"I expect they will convince you that there is no need to worry about those cholesterol readings of yours. Your doctor should read the information on these web sites as well!"

Compelling information on those web sites, but my doctor wouldn't look at them unless they were recommended and fully endorsed by the AMA! That's sad to say, but true.

When it comes to an all-natural remedy for high cholesterol, one of my readers suggested I take a product called Diabeticine.

"I have been taking Diabeticine for 6 months and had nothing but good results from this all-natural product. I would show the information provided on the web site to my doctor."

I may look into this product if it is as good as the label claims it is.

Another fellow low-carber said she feels my pain because she is in the same boat as I am regarding cholesterol.

"I just got my numbers back this week and my total cholesterol is 211, which seems really good to me. My HDL cholesterol is a whopping 95 (Too High according to the Dr.) and my LCL cholesterol is 103 High he says. My Triglycerides are only 66. Overall I am very happy with my scores, but my Dr. seems to not be. I read somewhere recently about their using the Friedwald Formula to figure LDL, and that it is notoriously inaccurate when the Triglycerides are not in the 200 to 500 range, I would just love it if you would check into this and write an article about it."

Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the details about this, but I am sure one of my readers will be. Please feel free to share your comments about the Friedwald Formula being inaccurate with lower triglyceride levels by commenting below if you have any expertise on this.

A 70-year old reader said to me, "No statins unless absolutely necessary." Yes sir!

"Forget your physician and use him annually (or semi-annually, as the case may be) to review your blood work. As a general rule, statins should be used only as a last resort. I have learned through experinece that the following, not necessarily in the order presented, are reliable alternatives for improving cholesterol/triglyceride numbers: (i) weight loss; (ii) exercise; (iii) niacin; (iv) omega 3 fish oil; (v) flax seed oil; and (vi) oat bran. "

Weight loss? Check. Exercise? Check. Fish Oil? Check. The others I could stand to improve upon. THANKS for the suggestions!

Just as has been suspected by many of my readers, one man e-mailed me confirmation about the doctor/pharmaceutical company connection that should just make you sick to your stomach.

"My cholesterol profile is similar to yours but when my Endocrinologist told me the standards for Diabetics had changed and he wanted lower levels he insisted I go on a statin drug. I had the same muscle pain as you did with Lipitor and Crestor. Then my good ole family doc said that many docs ordered these newer drugs because of the incentives the drug companies push on them and that he found that the older statin drug such as Lovastatin and it's generic Mevacor worked just as well for people like us that need just a little tweaking and usually without the pain. I tried it, it worked and no pain and the added benefit is that the drug itself being a generic is much less expensive!"

These old drugs probably work well, but I'm not ready to jump back into prescriptions just yet. If my cholesterol does not come down noticably in the next year, then I'll reconsider. For now, it's all-natural for me.

"My mother told me that lecithin works well for lowering cholesterol. She says the best is Shaklee brand."

Mom knows best, doesn't she?! :) I'm familiar with the Shaklee products and will look into lecithin.

A gentleman e-mailed me assuring me that my numbers are excellent and the cholesterol tests can be finicky.

"Both of your cholesterol ratios look great! Combine those numbers with the fact that your Very Low Density Lipoprotein dropped to an incredibly low TWELVE, I would certainly NOT go back on those high risk statins! Then too, you might get an entirely different LDL number if you tested again next week."

In fact, my VLDL went down even more to just 8 on the lastest test. But my doctor was not impressed by the ratios, just the LDL. Oi!

Finally, I told you there was one dissenting voice who thinks I should go back on a statin. Here's what he wrote:

"Reading over your article, I have to tell you that listening to your chiropractor is not going to make matters better. In fact, chiropractors are not considered doctors and asking one about cholesterol levels is like asking a daycare worker how to put out a warehouse fire."

Um, with all due respect, sir, he's not just my chiropractor. He's a good friend of mine who has invested MANY YEARS of research into good nutritional practices. I trust his opinions on the subject of drugs and natural treatments. He has attended many educational medical seminars confirming the information he provided to me.

"I currently take 10mg of Crestor after going through the merry go round of trying Zocor, Zetia, Red Yeast Rice, Omega-3 and CoQ10. Crestor is by far the best FOR ME. When you think about all the side effects from the statin...well...that is part of the risks you take."

Risks you take? I'm sorry, but QUALITY of life is better to me than anything else. While I certainly want to live a long, healthy life, I don't want it to be as someone who is always feeling the pain associated with taking a drug that supposed to make me healthier. Isn't that the irony of ironies? We take a drug to supposedly help keep us from having a cardiovascular problem, but that drug causes us to experience pain unnecessarily that we would have otherwise NOT gone through. NO THANK YOU!

"Don't be fooled into thinking there is a safe medication for our illness. You can feel great about losing weight and wag the Low Carb flag all you want: reality is your levels are dangerously high and you need to take it serious. Taking Vytorin is a wise choice. However you need to start researching things out for your sake and not allow yourself to be swayed by quacks and other legitimate doctors; the latter being those who are genuinely trying to assist you with YOUR problem."

Hey readers of "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb." Did you see that? You're now just a bunch of "quacks" who don't know what the $^&* you are talking about. Isn't that nice to know? Meanwhile the "legitimate doctors" are the only ones who REALLY care about getting this "dangerously high" LDL cholesterol level under control. Call me a cynic, but I'm not buying it. And HOW DARE YOU INSULT MY READERS LIKE THAT!!! I'm the only one who's allowed to call them "quacks!" :-D

"My suggestion is to start on a low dose of a statin and monitor your levels month to month to where you eventually find that comfort zone. It took me five years to get to this point and believe me: it doesn't happen overnight."

I was already taking the lowest dose possible of statins when I was on it before and the doctor said to up the dosage even more. THAT is when I started having the muscle and joint problems. I'm not going back to statins again and that's MY choice to do with MY body! PERIOD!

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in this conversation about statin drugs and cholesterol. If you still have something else to say regarding this subject, feel free to comment below. I am proud to have people like each of you willing to share your experiences with me just as I share my low-carb experiences with you. Together, we can learn a lot from each other.

3 Comments:

Blogger Newbirth said...

"An LDL of 170 does seem pretty high. I was told it should be under 100."

That's what we've all been "told," but is it absolutely necessary that LDL be less than 100? That was my question.

If it was 120 that might be one thing, but 170 is more than a little high. I think it's absolutely necessary that you get it down some.

I get retested this summer...you're scaring me now!

4/04/2006 10:19 PM  
Blogger Leigh said...

My cholesterol has always been in the 230-260 range, with very high HDL. I have refused statins for 15 years and will continue to refuse them. I also refused HRT, turned out to be right about that, eschewed the low-fat diet to ward off heart disease, turned out to be right about that, too. If you look into the history of acceptable cholesterol numbers, you find that "they" keep lowering them. I wonder how many healthy humans would actually have the acceptable numbers without drugs. I think you are correct to add the natural measures and retest.

5/27/2006 4:50 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I got off of a statin prescription. It can be done! I would rather try to do it the natural way than to rely on a synthetic substance. Great blog!
Tim

8/21/2006 3:51 PM  

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