We have been told to forgo cholesterol-rich foods – eggs, cheese, shellfish – and take statins to reduce cholesterol levels in our blood.
All this was on the basis of virtually no real evidence, as a growing cohort of dissenting experts has pointed out. Until now they have been ignored, but that is changing.
Far from being harmful, cholesterol is essential for life.
‘It is so vital that all cells, apart from neurones, can manufacture cholesterol, and one of the key functions of the liver is to synthesise it,’ says Dr Malcolm Kendrick, author of The Great Cholesterol Con.
Two key things have been established this year: first, eating foods that contain cholesterol is not dangerous and doesn’t raise your blood cholesterol.
The 2015 Scientific Report of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee states that ‘available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum (blood) cholesterol’.
In fact, the liver makes 85 per cent of the cholesterol that the body needs to function.
'You would need to eat six to eight eggs a day to produce enough cholesterol for your body’s needs,’ says Dr Kendrick, ‘which you’re unlikely to do. But if you did eat four eggs a day, the liver would adjust the amount it produced.’
The second more contentious finding is that, in Dr Kendrick’s words, ‘research confirms that if you have a high cholesterol level you will live longer’.
A report in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism claims high cholesterol does not lead to heart disease and indeed protects against many illnesses, including cancer.
The exception is in people under 50 with extremely high cholesterol due to the genetic condition familial hypercholesterolaemia.
‘While they are more likely to die from heart disease, they are much less likely to die of cancer, so life expectancy is essentially unaltered,’ says Dr Kendrick.
After scrutinising all the research data, the authors state ‘all-cause mortality is highest in the lowest cholesterol group’.
This was based on large studies in Japan but they also found that ‘elderly people with the highest cholesterol levels have the highest survival rates irrespective of where they live in the world’.
WE NEED CHOLESTEROL FOR…
● Connecting brain cells: the crucial links (synapses) between the nerve cells (neurons) in our brains are made almost entirely of cholesterol.
● Producing vitamin D, which we need for strong bones and protection against diseases, including some cancers. Vitamin D is synthesised from cholesterol by the action of sunlight on our skin.
● Creating cell membranes, the coating that keeps our cells’ structures intact.
● Building sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone).
● Producing bile, which helps with food digestion.
● Fighting infection: lipo-proteins, which carry cholesterol, bind to viruses and bacteria and deactivate them.
DR KENDRICK'S ADVICE FOR PREVENTING HEART DISEASE
♥ If you smoke, stop immediately.
♥ Take exercise. Walk everywhere. Get a dog.
♥ Go out in the sunshine.
♥ Reduce areas of negative stress at work and at home.
♥ Eat more fats (including some saturated fats), fewer highly processed foods and less sugar in all forms (see Website of the week, below).
THE TRUTH ABOUT STATINS
● The lead author of a new study into statins, Dr Tomohito Hamazaki, previously supported the cholesterol hypothesis and promoted the benefits of statins. ‘Terrible, unforgivable mistakes given what we clearly know now,’ the report says.
● These drugs are now recognised as having multiple debilitating side effects, notably muscle weakness, fatigue and memory loss, as well as more serious conditions.
● As well as blocking cholesterol, statins block the production of co-enzyme Q10, an antioxidant that is vital for releasing energy from our cells and powering muscles.
● Dr Kendrick recommends that patients suffering side effects take a holiday from statins for two months. ‘Many feel much better and choose not to go back,’ he says.
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Interesting information. I have recently witnessed a decline in my husband memory. He had take cholesterol reducers since his heart attack several years ago. How do you get a doctor to listen?
We have three springs, three ponds and a creek so the dog are pretty happy here at "summer camp".
wow, this is interesting, Jan. I didn't realize that cholesterol is sometimes good for us. Thanks for sharing, and have a lovely week.
This is fascinating and one I will be returning to to read again. Thank you so much :)
Hi Gingi, and thanks for your comment. This is a great post Graham put up yesterday, full of information for us all to think about.
Hi Gail, and thanks for your comment. As we get older our memory isn't always as good as it used to be, but could it be down to medication? The article certainly gives many good pointers for us all to consider, but of course taking /stopping any medication should be in consultation with your own Dr.
... loved your 'summer camp' post - the dogs were so happy.
Hi Sheri, and thanks for your comment. This article has some very interesting information for us all to read, glad you found it of interest.
... hope you have a good week too.
Hi Denise, thanks for reading and commenting here ... it's appreciated. There is a lot of useful information to read and digest but pleased to hear you found it interesting. Come back anytime you are most welcome.
Many thanks to you all for your comments and thoughts and I know this post is receiving a lot of reads, so if you wish to leave any constructive / thoughtful comments please do.
Hope everyone has a pleasant day - and thanks again to Graham for this informative article, I've always enjoyed reading words from Dr Kendrick.
All the best Jan
Such a very interesting and informative article.
Kath ( retired HCP )
Hello Kath, and thank you for leaving your comment. So pleased to know that you found this such a interesting and informative article ... we aim to please and also to provide a wide variety of different articles.
Hope your week has started well.
All the best Jan
I find Dr Kendrick very convincing and I love his down to earth advice.
Hello Judith, and thanks for your comment, which I 100% agree with.
Hope everything is well with you in your part of the world.
All the best Jan
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