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The Great Cholesterol Myth

February, 2013

Do you want to know what is one of the biggest medical frauds of all time? It is the statin drug scam! Millions are on statin drugs to lower their cholesterol. We are told that the lower your cholesterol, the better it is for your heart. The drug companies are even trying to convince us that children should be placed on statin drugs!

I have just read “The Great Cholesterol Myth.” It was co-authored by Jonny Bowden, PhD and my good friend, Steve Sinatra, M.D. It is a great book! If you want to know the history of how cholesterol came to be the most important risk factor for heart attacks, this book tells the story in detail. It is quite a story. You see, there was never any scientific evidence that lowering cholesterol would lower your risk of dying from heart disease. In fact, lowering cholesterol to the levels that are targeted today can be harmful. Cholesterol is critical to health. It is an important constituent of cell membranes and it is used to make vitamin D, sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), and the bile acids needed for digestion. Cholesterol is also important in fighting infections. A cholesterol level of less than 160 mg/dl has been linked to depression, aggression, cerebral hemorrhage, and loss of sex drive. Some other potential side effects of the statin drugs are decreased levels of Co-Q10, muscle cramps, general weakness, muscle weakness, difficulty walking, loss of muscle mass, numbness, muscle spasms, memory loss, decrease in cognitive function, erectile dysfunction, and increased risk for diabetes and cancer. Believing the myth that cholesterol levels predict risk of heart disease, doctors prescribe statin drugs like candy.


An important part of the book is the discussion of which blood readings are more predictive of heart disease risk. Armed with this knowledge you can ask your physician to run these tests. It is important to understand the significance of these tests. Cholesterol, being a fatty substance, needs to be wrapped in protein in order to travel through your blood (fats are not dissolvable in water or blood). We call these cholesterol-protein combinations lipoproteins. These are familiar to most of us as HDLs (high density lipoproteins) and LDLs (low density lipoproteins). Both contain cholesterol and triglycerides. We are told that HDLs are the “good “guys and LDLs are the “bad” guys. We want high HDL numbers on our blood tests and low LDL numbers. However, what is important is not so much the absolute numbers, but rather the numbers of the subtypes. The most important subtypes of LDL are subtype A and subtype B. The more subtype A compared to subtype B, the lower your risk for heart disease. Subtype A is pretty benign, while subtype B is very harmful to your arterial walls and your heart. Even HDL cholesterol has “good” and “bad” components. However, none of these are harmful until they become damaged through oxidation. Read the book to find out more about this important topic.

As the book recommends, ask for the following tests when you go to your physician for a check-up:

1. Particle size test 

This test enables the doctor to find out the levels of subtype A and B.

2. C-reactive protein (CRP). 

CRP is a marker of inflammation and is directly associated with overall heart and cardiovascular health.

3. Fibrinogen.

This has been identified as an independent risk factor for heart disease.

4. Serum ferritin.

Excessive levels of serum ferritin are associated with increased risk of heart attacks.

5. Lp(a)

This cholesterol-carrying molecule is a serious risk factor for heart disease.

6. Homocysteine

High levels are associated with increased incidence of heart disease and stroke.

7. Interleukin-6

This is another marker for inflammation.

If, after receiving the results of these tests, you learn that your risk for heart disease is high, do not despair. Drs. Bowden and Sinatra tell you what to do to correct the abnormal readings. In almost all instances, statin drugs are not the answer. There are more natural ways to improve your heart health without incurring the side effects of the statin drugs.

If you want to understand the causes of heart disease, this book is a must read. The book is much more than a journey through the history of the cholesterol myth or a list of important blood tests. Drs. Bowden and Sinatra cover, in clear, easy-to-understand language, what they call the “Four Horsemen of Aging.” They are inflammation, oxidation, sugar and stress. While all of these contribute mightily to development of heart disease, chronic inflammation is the worst offender; the other three primarily contribute to inflammation. Because inflammation is an underlying cause of so many of our chronic diseases, the knowledge you will gain about how to reduce inflammation for your heart will also benefit your overall health.

Arm yourself with the information in this book and you will know more than most physicians. I highly recommend "The Great Cholesterol Myth."

© 2013, Mark A. Breiner, DDS

The information presented is for educational purposes only. You should consult a qualified health practitioner for diagnosis and treatment.