Cholesterol has been one of the top health issues of the past 50 years. We are constantly reminded of the dangers of it by medical associations, Government advertising and the shelves of our supermarkets are literally covered with "lite" non-cholesterol foods - yet evidence exists to show that cholesterol is not quite the villain it has been made out to be and is not the right target in the fight against heart disease.
Two key studies, "The Framingham Heart Study", done by Harvard Medical School and the "Keys Seven Countries Study" showed that those with Cancer had cholesterol levels that were lower than average.
A large study done in Japan, covering two decades, concluded that low levels of blood cholesterol increases the incidents of stroke.
Results of 350,000 men screened for MRFIT in the US showed that the risk of death from cerebral hemorrhage in middle aged men was 6 x greater if they had low blood cholesterol.
On Christmas Eve 1997 the Frammingham researchers concluded "Intakes of fat and type of fat were not related to the incidents of the combined outcome of all cardiovascular diseases or to total cardiovascular mortality.
Decreases in blood cholesterol causes decreases in seratonin (hormone that helps with moods amongst other things) and brain function and since 1992 several observers have noticed increases in suicide among those on cholesterol lowering diets.
A study of the native peoples of New Zealand, the Maori, showed that those with the lowest levels of blood cholesterol had the highest mortality rate.
In 1993 the the Caerphilly Study in Wales showed that men who drank more than a pint of full cream milk a day had only one tenth the incidence of heart disease as those who drunk none. They also demonstrated that those who ate a high energy diet lived longer than those who cut dietary fats. Their findings indicate that far from being a killer, the diet we are told to avoid by nutritionist may actually protect us against heart disease.
A 1994 Japanese paper examined the diets of those who lived to 100 and found out they got their protein from meat, not rice and pulses. The centenarians also had high intakes of animal food, such as egg, meat, milk and fish. Their carbohydrate intake was much lower than their fellow countrymen, who died younger.
Cholesterol is an essential component of the body, found in all cells of the body, particularly brain and nerve cells. Although we are taught by media and advertising that cholesterol is bad, the amount of cholesterol in the diet affects blood cholesterol levels very little.
Cholesterol and heart disease became linked in 1951 after American Doctor John Gofman dissected bodies of dead soldiers from the Korean War and discovered high levels of cholesterol and fatty deposits on arterial walls. They found cholesterol in the material that builds up on artery walls and also that those with heart disease often had high levels of blood cholesterol and so the heart disease and cholesterol became linked despite the fact that the fatty deposits found only contained cholesterol.
In 1981 240 risk factors were listed for heart disease. Today there are over 300, including such things as wearing tight pants and eating Mackerel.
Telling people who feel fit and well they are not and if they do not make changes to their life they can drop dead at any moment not only worries them unnecessarily it can have a profound effect upon their lives, to the degree that they become more concerned with death than life.
Post mortem examinations in a British university hospital showed that of the patients who died of a diagnosed specific heart disease over half had actually died of something else.
Doctors in Britain are reporting more and more cases of nutritional disorders, normally found in severely malnourished children in Africa, such as Kwashiorkor, Marasmus, and Rickets, and are blaming these on food fads, such as the ones triggered by the Cholesterol scare.
Health fanatics often advocate Mediterranean diets as they claim they are low in fat, but this is not true. Northern Italians love butter, the French cook with cream and butter as a preference and have pates made of goose fat, and Mediterranean's are famous for their sausages, salamis and cheeses. It may be healthier than an American or British diet, but not lower in fat. One thing that the Mediterranean diet is high in, is foods that contribute to the lowering of Cholesterol, such as garlic, onions and red wine.
In regards to cholesterol testing, cholesterol levels can rise very fast, one of the effects of "fight or flight" is raised blood cholesterol levels. If you rush to your doctors clinic your cholesterol will be higher than if you walk calmly. If you are anxious about what your doctor says, and the idea of a needle concerns you, cholesterol levels will rise. Cholesterol testing levels are not accurate - and laboratory tests have shown that levels can change as much as 1.3mmol/l with different testing methods.
An example of this is let's say you are 30 years old, your cholesterol levels are a respectable 6.0 mmol/l. You hurry to a surgery and are anxious about the result. This could raise by more than 25% to 7.5mmol. If it is sent to a lab giving the high reading, it could raise by a further 1.3mmol/l, so your 6.0mmol/l is now 8.8mmol/l.
The Tecumseh Study attempted to correlate cholesterol levels one day with the amount of fats eaten the previous day but found none. People who ate the least cholesterol had the highest levels of blood cholesterol.
Also the study found that blood cholesterol levels were quite independent of whether the dietary fat was saturated or unsaturated.
A Finish trial published in 1975 recommended that a "healthy diet" was recommended as cholesterol levels were lowered with this, however, 10 years later a follow up trial was done and it found that those people who continued to follow the carefully controlled diet were twice as likely to die of heart disease.
Recent US studies show that heart disease worsened in those who switched from butter to polyunsaturated rich margarine. Research published in March 1993 confirmed this in a study that involved 85,000 nurses, women who ate just four teaspoons of margarine per day had a 66% increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who ate none. The Frammingham Study published in 1995 concluded "intake of margarine may predispose to development of coronary heart disease in men." According to the MAFF National Food Survey the amount of fats in our diet today is almost the same as it was at the beginning of the century yet heart disease is significantly higher. At the turn of the century we ate mainly animal fats that are largely saturated and monosaturated. Now we are tending to eat more polyunsaturated fats, because of advice given to us, yet such things as margarine were supposed to reduce heart disease.
This information certainly rocks the cholesterol boat and shatters many fixed ideas about this condition that worries so many and fills the bank accounts of many. In conclusion it seems cholesterol is not quite the villain it has been made out to be and that much of the source of fatty degeneration of arterial walls and chronic heart disease is more to do with the unnatural diets we are exposed to from processed foods, such as margarine.
Come and see me for personalized recommendations. There is a homeopathic formula I like to give many of my clients to help with this condition, and there are other more specific recommendations too that are beneficial, depending on the underlying factors from person to person.
Tel: 9397 9124
Mobile: 0412 596789
I am available at the Galleria from Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am - 5pm and late night shopping on Thursday's. Come by and see me and give me an update on how you are going when you can.