Sunday, June 01, 2008

My Total Cholesterol Is 326 And Why I Don't Need To Take Lipitor Or Crestor To Lower It

Of all the blatant lies we have been told about our health over the years, there is one that sticks out as the most egregious of them all because it has failed to be proven by any reputable science or through human experience. And yet millions upon millions of Americans are currently taking a prescription medication for this condition because that's what their doctor told them they needed to do to prevent the risk of heart disease. I'm of course referring to the cholesterol hypothesis.

We've all heard it throughout our lifetime that you better keep your cholesterol below 200 if you want to keep from having clogged arteries which could lead to a heart attack, stroke, or worse. These warnings have come from well-meaning physicians, dietitians, and other so-called health "experts" who are simply regurgitating what they have been taught in medical school, personal training, and from other sources.

One of those "other sources" of information are pharmaceutical companies which stand to profit greatly from a trumped-up condition that they can swoop in and come to the rescue of people with a susceptibility for atherosclerosis with a miracle pill. That's exactly what Pfizer has done marketing Lipitor, Astra-Zeneca with Crestor, and Merck/Schering-Plough with Zetia. These prescription medications are meant to treat "high cholesterol," but has anyone stopped to ask the obvious question that is that gigantic elephant in the room?


Surely you jest, Jimmy! Everyone KNOWS that you put yourself at risk when you allow your cholesterol, especially that dastardly LDL "bad" cholesterol, to rise above 200. Anyone who refuses to take a statin drug when their total cholesterol rises above this level is simply putting themselves at severe risk for some rather serious health consequences down the road. Why not just take your medicine like the rest of us are doing and put yourself out of harm's way?

You'd be surprised how many people feel EXACTLY like that. We've been so cleverly sold a bill of goods about cholesterol that it's almost sacrilegious to even suggest a contrary point of view without being looked at like you're some kind of space alien. Of course, those of us who are livin' la vida low-carb are already used to this kind of scrutiny, so what else is new? That said, what is the harm in taking a pill that supposedly will do you some good?

Well, there's PLENTY of harm that can happen. Although cholesterol numbers have come way down from where they once were, what is the cost to our health that these reductions have produced. In my podcast interview with Dr. Jim LaValle last week, he said that if you put 250 people in a room and put them all on a statin drug and just ONE of them reduced their risk of heart disease as a result of this therapy, the pharmaceutical companies believe that is good enough to put the pill on the market for the masses. But what about those other 249 people? What is the impact of a statin drug on THEIR health?!

Let's just be honest for a moment. Cholesterol drugs are about nothing more than one thing and one thing alone: MONEY! If there was no money to be had in reducing cholesterol numbers, then all this hoopla over cholesterol would never even exist. The fact is battling "high cholesterol" is big business and anything that stands in the way of that multi-BILLION dollar profit machine will be run over with a proverbial Mack truck! If word got out that livin' la vida low-carb did more to improve your risk of heart disease than statin drugs, then there would be a lot of unhappy pharmaceutical reps who have made a healthy living selling the facade that "high cholesterol" will kill you.

Let's talk about the pharmaceutical reps for a moment. Who died and made them the great purveyors of health knowledge in the United States? I understand doctors are limited on their time and ability to continue their education into the latest research that comes out about health. But why do the pharmaceutical companies get a free pass to waltz right into see my doctor--sometimes as many as six blaze in and out while I'm there--to explain about their new wonder drug for every ailment known to mankind? Can I have the same sort of privileges to go from doctor's office to doctor's office to give a presentation about the latest scientific evidence supporting a controlled-carb approach on weight and health? I think you know the answer.

So that's the system we're stuck with for now. Doctors go to medical school where they receive a grand total of maybe one week of nutritional education (two if they're lucky!) and then are forced to rely on highly-paid drug company representatives to give them "unbiased" reporting on what they need to be giving their patients for high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol. It's the way we've always done it, so I guess we had better get used to it, right?

Not me. When I decided to go on the Atkins diet in 2004, I was sick and tired (literally!) of settling for the conventional wisdom for what constituted a "healthy" diet and instead chose a way of eating that would help me go on to shed 180 pounds. At the time when I still weighed over 400 pounds, I was taking Crestor after a very painful stint on Lipitor to control my "high cholesterol" which was around 250 at the time. They had me so scared of NOT taking this statin that I felt like it was my only option despite the agonizing pain these drugs have been shown to cause in more users than they even realize.

Nine months later after losing about 140 pounds, I decided to come off of statin drugs for good. And I've refused to take another one since because low-carb has worked better to make me healthier than I ever thought possible. And yet those boo birds in my head kept making a lot of noise in 2006 when I visited my doctor for a routine physical check-up. As soon as my doctor said I needed the "s" word again, I just about screamed! When I politely told him I would NOT be going back on Lipitor or Crestor again, he said he'd give me four months to lower my LDL down from 170 or else he would insist I take it.

When I presented this conundrum to my blog readers at the time, the general consensus was to avoid statins which I then began educating myself more about and learned why LDL and total cholesterol probably aren't as big a deal as they have been made out to be. I learned from people like Dr. Jeff Volek that low-carb cholesterol concerns are unnecessary because the reality is that the HDL/triglyceride ratio is a much better marker for heart health than LDL and total cholesterol. And guess what raises HDL and lowers triglycerides significantly? Yep, it's low-carb, baby! And a low-fat, high-carb diet does just the opposite according to the latest research. DUH!

Once you break through literally years of cholesterol indoctrination and instead challenge those who support the cholesterol hypothesis to prove having "high cholesterol" is unhealthy, then you are then ready to understand that there's more to it than simple terms like "good" and "bad" cholesterol. The particle size of LDL is the BETTER way to determine if that cholesterol number you see is harmful or protective. The large, fluffy LDL are protective while the small, dense LDL particle size is what you need to be wary of. You can check out the particle size of your cholesterol by having a VAP test done or something similar that would give you the breakdown of these cholesterol subsets. It's not as simple as LDL and total cholesterol anymore.

Oh, by the way, do any of these geniuses who put patients on a statin drug also recommend that they take a CoQ10 supplement since this is DEPLETED FROM YOUR BODY when you take one of these drugs? Hmmmm, I guess they just forgot to tell you that! OOPS! Or how about this study which found that having too LOW cholesterol levels leads to depression, suicide, and death? I guess that one slipped their minds, too! Double OOPS! But let's also not forget the evidence that statins can lead to some vivid and vicious nightmares as well. Better make that a triple OOPS!

One of my readers frantically wrote to me an urgent message about their recent trip to the doctor and her diagnosis of "high cholesterol." Here's what she wrote:

Hi Jimmy,

I have been doing Atkins since April 2007 and have lost 40 pounds. I just recently went to my doctor and had some blood work done. I received the results and it came back that my cholesterol is too high. My LDL is around 250, my HDL is around 54 and my total cholesterol is at 300.

I don't know what to do!! My doctor prescribed me Crestor, but I have heard awful things about it. What do you think I should do? I have been eating lean meats, fish and veggies and staying away from excessive salt intake. I don't want to stop doing low-carb. Oh and I am exercising too! I appreciate any help or advice you can give me!!

I'm so glad she wrote to me because she is EXACTLY who I wanted this blog post to be for. She has been sold that bill of goods that her cholesterol is too high and the ONLY answer she has to this grave problem they have presented to her is to take a statin drug. Gee, imagine that! Sure didn't see that one coming!

Let me just say that her HDL of 54 is great and I would be willing to bet her triglycerides are below 100. Dr. Mary C. Vernon has said that one of the surefire ways of knowing someone is low-carbing correctly is their HDL is above 50 and their triglycerides are under 100. If that's the case, then her HDL/triglyceride ratio is FABULOUS and she really has nothing to worry about.

But what about the LDL and total cholesterol? Are they really irrelevant? Well, without seeing the results of her particle size test (which I don't know if they ran or not), it's impossible to know if she's at risk with those numbers. But I do happen to know someone with similar numbers who did have a particle size test done recently--ME!

You'll recall I went to see a low-carb doctor last month about my recent mysterious 30-pound weight gain and he ran my lipid profile numbers for me. When the results came back, they would no doubt be a bit stunning to someone who looks at cholesterol in a traditional way:

Total Cholesterol - 326
Total LDL - 246
Total HDL - 65
Triglycerides - 77
Insulin - 5.8

Yes, my total cholesterol is 326 and hopefully now you know why I don't need to take a statin drug like Lipitor or Crestor to lower it. Check out my HDL/triglyceride ratio. It's virtually 1-1 and that's FANTASTIC! Note that my HDL is above 50 and my triglycerides are below 100--a sign that I'm livin' la vida low-carb 100% right despite my weight gain. So what's up with the LDL? Is the particle size where it needs to be?

The answer is YES! My doctor said that when he analyzed the LDL subset breakdown, he saw a clear majority of the LDL was the large, fluffy kind that you want to protect against cardiovascular problems and very few if any of the small, dense kind. So, despite my astronomical LDL number, it's a non-factor. And neither is the total cholesterol. Keep in mind my HDL "good" cholesterol is high like it needs to be, so that contributes to the total number, too.

So if you've been to the doctor after being on a low-carb diet and you see numbers similar to mine and my reader's cholesterol, don't panic! Get your particle size so you can be armed with the facts about what to do in response. "High cholesterol" is a gimmick to sell more dangerous statin drugs to people who could stand to benefit from the healthy low-carb lifestyle. I'd never tell you what to do for YOUR health--that's YOUR decision. But one thing is for certain. I'm NEVER gonna take a statin drug again!

And I don't have to because I'm livin' la vida low-carb!

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Blogger Dave said...

Hi Jimmy. Increased stress levels could explain both your weight gain and increased LDL.

Also, Chris Masterjohn has a dynamite writeup discussing the latest thinking on serum cholesterol and heart disease. It's in the context of reviewing the book "The Cholesterol Wars: The Skeptics vs. the Preponderance of the Evidence", coming from the lipid hypothesis camp. Masterjohn's writeup is highly recommended for a detailed and rational look into the underlying science.

6/01/2008 6:36 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Death to the statinators.

Hey Jimmy, you gave an insulin number. Is that a good number? or have any significance?

6/01/2008 7:12 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS JD! Yes, my insulin level is superb...they want that number to be 12 or lower. :D

6/01/2008 7:25 PM  
Blogger Jorge said...

Great Post Jimmy.

Here is some interesting information that medical doctors never mention:

You may not know this, but our brains are composed mainly of cholesterol.

Most of the people that have heart attacks are people with a total cholesterol under 200.

Also, in a number of other countries, such as England, it is required by law, that when a doctor prescribes statin drugs, then must also prescribe CoQ10 to that patient.

6/01/2008 8:11 PM  
Blogger Tom Bunnell (TB)--TB said...

I refused to take cholesterol medicine too. I believe the same way you do. -- Thyroid medicine they had out like candy too. It's equally destructive and just as great a travesty and injustice!

6/01/2008 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not all Thyroid medicine (I'm thinking Synthroid) is bad. For people like me without a pituitary gland, it is life giving.

6/01/2008 10:12 PM  
Blogger DRYSIDECOUG said...

I don't have a pituitary gland anymore, so I'm glad they hand out Synthroid to me at least. In my case it is welcomed.

6/01/2008 10:15 PM  
Blogger The Vitamin Tutor said...


Did you also have any sort of testing that would indicate what degree of plaque is present in your arteries?

The sad thing about the current/conventional view of cholesterol and heart disease is that higher values can sometimes result in higher medical insurance premiums.

I know of a local health food store owner that takes red yeast rice (a natural statin) before getting his yearly physical. Why? Because an "acceptable" cholesterol score will lower his health insurance rate.

Sad but true.

Be well!


6/01/2008 11:53 PM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

my numbers are pretty similar to your Jimmy, doc tried to insist on statins. Did a heart CT scan and got a score of ZERO, meaining no plaque at all, that shut the doc up (and the scan was her idea, hahhaa).

one important point, I learned from Dr. Eades: a low triglycerides number almost always corresponds to lots of the large fluffy LDL - so much so that a subparticle type test isnt really necessary, just make sure that your triglycerides are low.

6/02/2008 8:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Edberg said...

Hi Jimmy--

Fascinating, just fascinating. Amazing triglyceride to HDL level you continue to have! I'm having my blood checked soon and will be interested to see what's happened since I've lost 60 pounds the low-carb way. I'm glad to have this information; I'll ask my doc about having the particle size test.

Meanwhile, I'm curious about one thing. My mother's neurologist has told me that cholesterol-lowering drugs often help patients with vascular dementia. And a doctor friend of mine confirmed this to me when I mentioned it to him Saturday. I'm wondering how that fits in to all the latest knowledge about cholesterol, particle sizes, ratios, etc.


6/02/2008 6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I'm SO going through this right now. I just had my yearly physical and got my bloodwork in with a call from the nurse. Doctor says one baby aspirin a day and get on a statin. My Chol is 251, TGL 101, HDL 56 and LDL 175. He only mentioned my LDL and then I asked them to fax my report. I called him back and said no, I would not go on a statin. He asked me if I would consider the red yeast rice, which he does, and I told him I would read up on it. Instead, I'm taking fish oil and continuing on with livin la vida low carb. His nurse told me to ofcourse continue my low fat diet....I hung up and said what???? I knew then that they are hopeless! I feel better this week about it, but after reading this blog, I'm not budging! Not gonna do it! Love you guys, Denise in Texas.

6/02/2008 7:47 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Eric, I haven't heard anything about vascular dementia and statin drugs, but I know the perfect person to ask--neurosurgeon Dr. Larry McCleary. Let me see what he says about this.

6/02/2008 8:40 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Eric, I heard back from Dr. McCleary today about your question and here's what he wrote:

Hi Jimmy

Vascular dementia, as the name states, is dementia caused by decreased blood flow to the brain. This can occur from blockages in big blood vessels to the brain, such as the carotid artery, that produce massive damage; or from smaller artery disease that might cause weakness in the arm, for example, but not other symptoms. Occlusions in large arteries (of the type just mentioned) are caused by large vessel disease, or atherosclerosis (Commonly caused by plaques that form in the blood vessels supplying the brain much like what happens in heart attacks. So, in a sense, a stroke is really a brain attack, like a heart attack.) Some of these strokes can cause memory loss or even difficulty thinking. This is similar to a dementia picture.

However, the most likely cause of vascular dementia is what is referred to as small vessel disease. That is caused by damage to small blood vessels feeding tiny parts of the brain. When they are blocked, you have a stroke and lose brain tissue. But it is on a microscopic scale and frequently you are unaware that you had the mini type stroke. This typically happens repeatedly, 10, 20 or even 50-100 times over years. This causes accumulation of loss of brain tissue in many regions of the brain in numerous tiny spots. These small vessel strokes usually occur in the white matter part of the brain, which consists of the axons, or long tails of the nerve cells lying side by side. This is where the tissue loss is found in vascular dementias. It is more likely associated with elevated blood pressure, elevated homocysteine, diabetes, pre-diabetes, smoking, fructose consumption and obesity. Elevated cholesterol tends to play a more minor role so statins play a more minor role in preventing these changes. However, there is etiologic overlap (meaning that small and large vessel disease can occur together) and that's where they may provide some benefit.

That having been said, statins lower intracellular Co Q10 levels and this impairs mitochondrial energy generation. That also may adversely impact brain energy production. So anyone taking a statin drug absolutely must be taking a C0 Q10 supplement.

It is somewhat complicated, but I think that is the situation.

I hope this helps.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Larry McCleary

6/03/2008 1:37 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Hi Jimmie, WOW 350 your a walking Solid . Please do a Scan on your Arteries right away. Agatson has a test for that. (South Beach Doctor). Actually its call the Agatson Scale. Not meaning to disrespect.

6/04/2008 1:25 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

No disrespect taken, Michael. But what do you mean by "a walking solid?" And what's 350? I'm aware of a heart scan for arterial wall buildup and would love to have this done soon. I'd be willing to bet they're squeaky clean.

6/04/2008 1:37 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I had the 64slice Scan last year. They can actually see in a 3d model what the buildup looks like in your arteries. Doctor showed me what a score of 640 and 720 looked like (Score is 0-1000) The 720 died already. When my score came back it was 4 yes 4. Hooray, the Doctor told me to get out of his office because he had a waiting room with patients that really needed him. Low carb really works, I had only been on SB for 3months at that time.

6/05/2008 1:09 PM  
Blogger Niki said...

Hey Jimmy,
Thanks SO MUCH for the link. SO much helpful info that I really needed. I am so thankful for your help and support sweetie. My heart is lighter because of people like you =)

Much love,

7/05/2008 5:48 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

It's my pleasure to help anytime, Niki! You are doing an AMAZING job, so NEVER GIVE UP what you are doing. :)

7/05/2008 5:51 PM  
Blogger Anthony said...

Hey Jimmy, my wife was freaking out because my total cholesterol was 328, says I can have a heart attack and need meds asap !
I'm 6.1", 200 lbs and love the low carb life, all I eat is meat and veggies...I was feeling totally awesome before my blood tests, now I'm extremely concerned.
I believe your results are similar and deductions are correct!
I will have the particle analysis for peace of mind.... Thank you so much for taking the time to create your site. I'm feeling much better after reading
...going to fire up the grill!

6/02/2011 9:09 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS Anthony! I think there's more harm is WORRYING about all this stuff than in cholesterol itself. It's called the "Fat Nocebo" effect which I've shared about in this YouTube video:

6/02/2011 9:34 AM  

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