Perhaps you are aware that I am very much in favor of plant-based diets. I don’t say people have to be strict vegetarians. But, I do say that eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and other unrefined plants is a very good idea whether or not you also eat meat.  People need to load up on plants, and the more the better. 

However, having said that, I also think it is insane what is going on in the world of Medicine where cholesterol is demonized.

You realize that cholesterol is a vital substance, that every cell in your body relies on it to build its membrane and maintain its intra-cellular environment.  Without cholesterol, animal cells would just dissolve.  Cholesterol is also the building block for all the sterol hormones, and there are quite a few. Cholesterol, as cholic acid, is the main component of bile acids, which are important to digestion. Cholesterol is also extremely abundant in the brain, and it’s so important that the brain has the ability to make its own cholesterol.  And it makes a heck of a lot of it. .It does not depend on the liver.

So, how could such a vital substance, so essential and crucial to human life, also be our doom? And the simplistic way in which they claim it is our doom is really childish. They think that just the amount of cholesterol in the blood determines whether plaque is going to be deposited in your arteries. But, that is ridiculous because a cholesterol above 200 is considered high today, whereas 150 is considered healthy. So, why would a 25% reduction of the amount of cholesterol in the blood make any such difference? Don’t you think it’s far more likely that if there is a tendency for plaquing to occur that it’s going to occur just as readily at blood cholesterol 150 as at blood cholesterol 200? There is still plenty of cholesterol available in the blood at 150.

Here is what the stupidity comes down to: they act as though there is a gradient going on in which having a little more cholesterol in the blood pushes the gradient so that plaque formation occurs, just from having the higher level of cholesterol, and getting below a certain threshold makes all the difference and stops the process. That is really stupid. So, what is the reality?

The reality is that they are confusing cause and effect. It’s not that having more cholesterol in the blood causes plaquing; it is that the conditions which cause plaquing cause more cholesterol to be in the blood.  

Arteries plaque because of irritation, and that irritation can be chemical from toxins, or it can be the damaging effect of high blood pressure.

An example of a chemical irritant that causes plaquing is cigarette smoke. You know about the toxins in tobacco, but in addition, there are toxins in smoke, and it’s true of any and all smoke. Carbon combustion involves the formation of polycyclic hydrocarbons and other toxins which are very irritating. They are so irritating to the very delicate cells of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of your arteries. So, the body lays down plaque as a response to irritation; it’s a coping mechanism, a kind of insulation. 

And there’s no doubt about it because there is no cholesterol in tobacco or tobacco smoke, and yet, we know that smoking tobacco is a powerful instigator of the atherosclerotic process.

And we know that high blood pressure is involved in plaquing because plaquing doesn’t occur in veins, which have low pressure. However, when you take a vein and make it do the work of an artery, such as when they use the saphenous vein to bypass a clogged coronary artery, that vein, now under high pressure, plaques very quickly, and I mean within months.

So, how much does cholesterol itself induce atherosclerosis? Probably not at all in its proper form. However, if cholesterol becomes oxidized, then that’s another irritant, and plaquing may be increased by it.

So, I think the medical practice of forcing the blood level of cholesterol down with a statin drug is extremely misguided. And yet the current President of the United States takes a statin drug and has for years.  So, it goes to show that even a billionaire can’t get decent health care in this country.  

I have blood work done every April, and this April my total cholesterol was 162, and I’m happy with that. But, even if it was 262, I wouldn’t take a statin drug.

And I think the people who celebrate super-low cholesterol, such as less than 100 are misguided too.  They act like the stuff is poison. I’d be curious to know how much testosterone a man with super-low cholesterol has. His testosterone is probably low too, and who wants that? We need to stop demonizing cholesterol. I would be concerned if my cholesterol was below 130. I don't want it lower than that. 

I mentioned oxidized cholesterol. For instance, frying animal foods can cause the cholesterol to oxidize. So, the best way to cook eggs is to boil the water; turn the heat off; then put the eggs in the hot water and let them seep for 7 or 8 minutes. And I think it’s a good idea to get the pastured eggs too.

Studies have shown that taking statin drugs barely lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke at all, that 100 people have to take statins for a year to prevent one heart attack. The very meager benefit, if it exists, is surely due to the anti-inflammatory effect of statins, which is in addition to their cholesterol-lowering effect. Cholesterol lowering probably has nothing to do with it.

But, at the same time, statins raise your risk of diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, and dementia. So, is it worth it to take them? Not to you. To the pharmaceutical companies, yes, but not you.

I predict that someday, the anti-cholesterol campaign is going to be seen as one of the biggest follies in the history of Medicine, and Medicine has had a lot of follies. Let me be crystal clear; I would never ever take a statin drug or any other cholesterol-lowering medicine, ever.