Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cholesterol Comeback: Prove It's Unhealthy

I've been thinking a lot about this whole issue of where to find "low-carb friendly" advice about diet, health, and fitness concerns over the past few days. My e-mail box is literally bursting (yes, I know it's not a word, but I'm using it anyway to make my point) at the seams with question after question from people worried about this and that health indicator on their low-carb diet. Somehow, some way we need to have a place where people can go for answers and I'm open to suggestions.

Some people might say that's what I do at my blog, but not exactly. Although I am pretty well-versed in most of the basic knowledge and even some secondary data about how and why livin' la vida low-carb works, I am by no means the all-encompassing low-carb diet expert with an answer for every question that comes my way. With that said, though, if I don't know something, then I'm happy to tell you and I will then go to the REAL experts and find you an answer you can use.

Two different people e-mailed me this week regarding the neverending confusion and concern over the subject of cholesterol and the ongoing myth that elevated levels of it in your body will lead to the development of heart disease. I brought in a very special guest today to help answer one of the e-mails directly, but let me handle the first questions myself since they are pretty easy.

Here's what my reader wrote:

Jimmy, can you provide a quick retort for laymen fools that believe the cholesterol/heart disease connection myth? Also, how do you respond to doctors who want to put you on statins?

Interesting questions and I'm happy to assist. As for the quick retort, I like to turn the question back on them (and you can even use this on the so-called health "experts" too!) by asking--"Can you provide any scientific proof that there IS an undeniable connection between elevated cholesterol levels and an increased risk of developing heart disease?"

After they stare back at you dumbfounded for a few seconds, follow up your question with this--"The fact is there isn't any and actually studies have shown that it is more lethal and dangerous to have cholesterol levels that are too LOW which can also lead to bouts of severe depression!" You can even show them YOUR proof: here's the study published in the January 22, 2007 issue of Laboratory Investigation conducted by researchers out of Duke University.

The researcher in that study has been raked over the coals for daring to share the truth because the cholesterol/heart disease myth has never been about health--just billions upon billions of dollars in MONEY FOR THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES. The cholesterol drug industry in collaboration with aggressive pill pushers visiting doctor's offices across the country have so successfully scared the living daylights out of people regarding their cholesterol levels that they are willing to take a bone-jarring, nightmare-inducing statin drug (which most low-carbers will tell you to avoid at all costs) like Zocor, Lipitor, or Crestor to artificially "lower" their numbers.

Why do people do this to themselves when more and more class action lawsuits are being filed against these harmful medications all under the illusion that they are making your heart healthier?! That's what makes me sick when I see that idiotic Lipitor commercial featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik, the inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart, boasting about how much he just loves statin drugs and that everyone should be taking one. What a crock of you know what!

UGH! Not me buddy because I'm not interested in damaging my body anymore from taking those prescriptions that nearly killed me! I was on both Lipitor and Crestor before I started livin' la vida low-carb and quickly came off of them when I lost my weight and began educating myself about what they were doing to me. I don't know how people put up with the joint and muscle weakness and pain that comes from taking these ridiculous medications!

Regarding your doctor and the statin drugs, what I have said is I'll take my chances with my low-carb diet. They don't want to hear that, but my cholesterol numbers (especially the HDL and triglycerides) have improved so much that I'm not worried about the fact that my LDL is somehow "too high." Says who? I've seen studies indicating high LDL can be beneficial to you--check 'em out for yourself here and here. I hate to say it, but frankly it's getting harder and harder to trust doctors anymore when modern research is proving their treatment of patients has not updated to the 21st century yet.

Here's just a little of what I know to be true from what I have learned about cholesterol and livin' la vida low-carb: eating a low-carb diet will raise HDL "good" cholesterol and significantly lower triglyceride levels and in conjunction with an exercise program will lower total cholesterol levels. In fact, the very latest studies have shown that your HDL and triglycerides levels are a better indicator of heart disease risk than LDL or total cholesterol.

It's all about breaking years upon years of cholesterol indoctrination much in the same way that you have had to do with the low-fat diet. How hard was it to convince yourself that eating fat was HEALTHY for you when you first started livin' la vida low-carb? I'll admit it was the most difficult mental aspect of this new way of eating that I had to get my head wrapped around because we have been told our entire lives that fat clogs your arteries which seems to make sense intellectually. But when you finally discover the truth about that theory and then apply the lessons learned to your own life with great success, then you become a believer!

The same goes for what has been described as "the great cholesterol con." That's why independent Australian researcher Anthony Colpo released a book about it in 2006 called (strangely enough!) The Great Cholesterol Con which is now in its expanded and updated second edition! This sensational book is the magnum opus on the subject of cholesterol and should be in the library of anyone and everyone who purports to care about health (if you doctor hasn't read it yet, then order a copy and give it to him ASAP!).

Colpo is quite the witty chap as we quickly discovered in my interview with him and the man really knows his stuff. If you want to talk with someone who has dotted all his i's and crossed all his t's on the subject of cholesterol, then Colpo is your man! Although he was forced to shut down his phenomenal web site, he still has an online presence at his Low-Carb Muscle forum. So check it out!

But I have him here today to answer the more intricate question from my second reader who reported in an e-mail some rather specific numbers in his lipid profile that had his doctor up in arms. Now my reader is greatly concerned and doesn't know what to do about his "high" cholesterol numbers. Colpo gives a fantastic response, but first let's read the e-mail from my reader:

Hi Jimmy,

Visited the doctor this morning. She wanted to get a look at my cholesterol numbers since I told her I wasn't going to take my Zocor anymore. After reading Anthony Colpo's book that you convinced me to buy, I quit taking my statin about 2 1/2 months ago. Got my new numbers (I'll have to look up the old ones) and they went up quite a bit.

I follow low-carb pretty well and rarely cheat, I could probably eat more veggies but I definitely eat more than pre-low-carb. I've lost 70 pounds in the last year doing so and the doctor was happy with that and she knows I'm low-carbing. She hasn't said anything bad about it and today told me to keep it up if its working.

Of course, though, she's not entirely happy about my new cholesterol numbers and I've mentioned how I have read that the tests are not accurate, cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease, etc. Her only reply is that all the cardiologists would disagree with me.

Anyways, here are my latest numbers:

Cholesterol: 234
Trigs: 89
HDL: 41
HDL risk factor: 5.7 (she didn't mention and I don't know what this is)
VLDL: 18 (she didn't mention and I don't know what this is)
Direct LDL: 163
LDL/HDL ratio: 4.0

Of course, she is concerned about how the numbers have gone up, specifically the LDL. I don't think that they're that bad. I still need to lose more weight and until I hit where I want to be (don't know where that's at yet, I'm 6'4" about 250 now but I have lots of muscle and wide shoulders) I will try not to worry about these numbers too much.

I'm kinda looking for your take on them and whether I should request a special test since my triglycerides are below 100 to figure out the exact makeup of the LDL and maybe show her its not so bad. Now I just need to work on getting off some of these blood pressure medications. Love the blog. Keep up the good work.

I loved this e-mail because it is EXACTLY what I used to fear myself and how so many other readers I am sure must feel about the same scenario. Before I get to Colpo's response (and it's a goodie!), let me address a few things first. Anyone who is following a low-carb nutritional approach will have different test results than those who eat a higher-carb program. Dr. Mary Vernon says the best way you can tell that someone is doing low-carb the right way is you'll notice their triglycerides are below 100. Since my reader's number is at 89, then he is right there.

You can get the VAP test done to see the actual breakdown of the particle size of your LDL makeup, but Dr. Vernon says LDL particle size in low-carbers who have triglycerides below 100 are the safer large, fluffy kind that are not a risk to your heart. But as Dr. Jeff Volek said in his interview with me, low-fat diets actually INCREASE the number of the dangerous small LDL cholesterol that he describes as "not so healthy" which leads to an even GREATER risk of a cardiovascular event. Yikes!

There's so much more to say about this, but let me share with you what Colpo had to say to my reader's concerns:

First of all, thanks for buying my book! I'm glad the information has helped empower you to the point where you are now critically analyzing the information your doctor disseminates--something a lot more folks should be doing.

As you would know from reading my book, cholesterol does not in any way "cause" heart disease. You have obviously challenged your doctor with this contention, and the fact that the only answer she can give in response to your cholesterol skepticism is "all the cardiologists would disagree" speaks volumes. If she is so sure that cholesterol itself causes heart disease, she should be able to articulate why in a coherent, scientific manner.

Whether she realizes it or not, she is implicitly admitting that she cannot defend the cholesterol paradigm, so instead she is using an "appeal to authority." This line of appeal is essentially a non-argument. It does not in any way explain why cholesterol is a causal factor in heart disease--it merely states that many employed in the field of cardiology think it is.

A majority of people once believed the Earth was flat. The fact that these folks shared a widely-held point of view did not in any way change the fact that it was utterly false. Nowadays, we laugh at those who still think the Earth is flat; I believe it won't be too long in the future before we do the same with people who think a perfectly healthy and absolutely essential natural substance like cholesterol causes heart disease.

Furthermore, she is wrong when she alleges that all cardiologists would disagree with you. I personally know of numerous cardiologists who agree that the cholesterol theory is complete hogwash. These include Texas cardiologist and preeminent CoQ10 researcher Peter Langsjoen. Another example is Paul De Groot, a retired cardiologist who, along with Uffe Ravnskov, caused an uproar when he recently appeared on the Dutch TV show "Radar" and tore the cholesterol theory to shreds.

I will reiterate: Cholesterol does NOT cause heart disease. As I am fond of saying, if you are eating, exercising and living right, then your cholesterol levels will be wherever they need to be.

There are numerous factors that contribute to "eating, exercising and living right." As you know, many of these are described in my book. Eating a nutrient-dense diet, getting regular exercise, avoiding high blood sugar levels, avoiding high bodily iron stores, avoiding excess adiposity, keeping good sleep habits, ensuring optimal essential fatty acid intake, and following a judicious supplementation regimen all help to stave off heart disease.

However, if one or more of these factors is not being achieved, then it can also affect cholesterol levels, by raising total cholesterol and/or raising LDL and lowering HDL. This is where the confusion arises--the modern medical establishment is still following the lead of early researchers who confused cause with effect.

Let's take magnesium for example.

Sub-optimal levels of this essential mineral have been implicated in a whole host of diseases, including heart disease. Having read my book, you'll know that magnesium is one of the "non-negotiable" items in the chapter on supplements. The average Westerner has a pathetic intake of this versatile mineral, and desperately needs to take measures to improve his/her magnesium status.

Magnesium is absolutely critical for cellular energy production, and sub-optimal levels will leave you increasingly prone to arterial spasm, blood clotting, and arrhythmia. Low cellular magnesium levels will exacerbate the damaging effects of psychoscial stress, and will also magnify the damage caused to heart tissue during a heart attack. In other words, low magnesium levels are a cardiovascular disaster waiting to happen.

Guess what? Magnesium is also involved in the regulation of cholesterol production. Low magnesium intakes can lead to rises in LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels.

The current medical approach is to identify this "unfavorable" change in blood lipids, and prescribe a cholesterol-lowering drug. This is a terribly short-sighted "Band-Aid" approach. The intelligent strategy would be to correct the life-threatening magnesium deficiency! Magnesium is a nutrient essential to optimal physiological function; toxic synthetic statin drugs are not!

By the way, while we are on the topic of magnesium, I strongly recommend Seelig and Rosanoff's terrific book, The Magnesium Factor. Ignore the authors' tendency to believe the reigning cholesterol nonsense, and you'll find a wealth of extremely helpful information on magnesium, including how to determine the correct dose.

Magnesium is just one example, but my book outlines many more. The bottom line is that you should make sure you are doing everything in your power to supply your body with the nutrient-rich, fitness-enhancing, low-stress environment it needs to thrive. If you do that, you'll achieve benefits no amount of cholesterol paranoia could ever hope to achieve!

All the best,

Anthony Colpo

Classic Colpo, as always! Man I love the way he just puts it out there and lets you decide what to believe based on the clear and irrefutable evidence. In this wild and crazy debate over the supposed dangers of having "high" levels of cholesterol, it's nice to douse the other side with a big ole heaping helping of a water tower full of cold, drenching truth to extinguish their flickering fire once and for all. I realize it's gonna take repeating this message over and over again for most people to start believing it (which is why this subject will come up again here at my blog), but the paradigm shift has already begun.

My cholesterol comeback? PROVE IT'S UNHEALTHY!

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Blogger Michelle said...

Hi Jimmy,

I was researching the topic of high cholesterol not being the cause of heart disease and your blog came up twice with two different but great articles.

Congratulations on your own health successes, and thanks for doing such a great service by blogging about the truth of the relationship between choleterol and heart disease and drugs that cause more problems than they cure.

I'm going to send your url to two of my friends who are taking these cholesterol-lowering drugs.

3/28/2007 5:08 PM  
Blogger BamaGal said...

Jimmy---thanks for a great article---I've got to get that book---both my parents have been on statins for years--now I know why he has all the joint aches...

3/28/2007 5:36 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for your note, Michelle! I think the truth will get out there as more and more people like me get so fed up with the misinformation and seek to spread the facts to friends and family! THANK YOU for sharing my blog with your friends concerned about their "high" cholesterol. Don't be a stranger and come back again soon. :)

3/28/2007 5:44 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

This may be one of your best posts ever, Jimmy, pure information that really matters to people based on undeniable, research-supported facts. And Colpo is magnificent. I dont' think there is any evidence more important for doctors to hear than these dramatically improved cholesterol numbers, achieved easily, rapidly and drug-lessly by low-carb. It is a knock-out punch to low-fat, low-cal misinformation and propaganda.

3/28/2007 7:41 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey Dach MD said...

Perhaps you have seen the Direct-to-Consumer TV and print advertisements with Robert Jarvik, the inventor of the Jarvik Heart, speaking on behalf of the Pfizer’s anti-cholesterol drug, Lipitor.

Perhaps Jarvik is not the best choice for the Lipitor campaign which has had mixed reviews. Instead of Jarvik, a more convincing yet unlikely spokesman would be the popular Duane Graveline MD MPH, a former NASA astronaut, and author who was started on Lipitor during an annual astronaut physical at the Johnson Space Center, and 6 weeks later had an episode of transient global amnesia, a sudden form of total memory loss described in his book, Lipitor Thief of Memory.

Two more unlikely spokesmen for the Lipitor ad campaign include Mary Enig and Uffe Ravnskov.

Should either one be selected as Lipitor spokesman, I myself would run down to the corner drug store to buy up the drug. It seems unlikey that even Pfizer’s deep pockets could ever induce them to recant their opposing position on the cholesterol theory of heart disease.

Mary G. Enig writes, ”hypercholesterolemia is the health issue of the 21st century. It is actually an invented disease, a problem that emerged when health professionals learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood.

Uffe Ravnskov MD PhD is spokesman for Thincs, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, and author of “The Cholesterol Myths, Exposing the Fallacy That Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease”. His controversial ideas have angered loyal cholesterol theory supporters in Finland who demonstrated by burning his book on live television.

For more discussion on this, see my newsletter: Lipitor and The Dracula of Modern Technology

Jeffrey Dach MD

6/18/2007 6:01 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANK YOU for your comments, Dr. Dach. In addition to Dr. Enig and Dr. Ravnskov, I would add Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek to the list of researchers who are proving the cholesterol theory we have been sold is a myth. Someday soon, the truth is finally gonna prevail.

Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!

6/18/2007 9:18 PM  

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