Cholesterol and Statins
- Created on Sunday, 10 October 2021 13:32
There is a cardiologist in England whom I follow on Youtube. His name is Sanjay Gupta, and that is the exact same name as the famous media doctor for CNN. And they even look alike, so I suspect that many confuse them. But, this Dr. Gupta is a different doctor, and he does videos on all aspects of heart health and medical care for the heart. And I like him because he’s not straight out of the box. He’s not afraid to dispute and challenge Medical Orthodoxy. For instance, he did a video questioning whether it’s prudent to treat moderate hypertension with drugs. He frequently extols magnesium and recommends taking it. And he’s very good at explaining diagnostic and therapeutic procedures relating to the heart.
But, in this video, I feel that he dropped the ball. He makes excuses for prescribing statin drugs, and he didn’t say a word about the many adverse effects of statin drugs: that they increase cancer risk, diabetes risk, and dementia risk, and more.
And then, he made a statement that truly confounded me. He admitted that cholesterol is a natural and vital substance that your body absolutely needs, but that if too much is present in the blood, it will tend to get deposited in the arteries. That claim has never been proven by anybody, and if you think about it mathematicaly, it makes no sense.
Today, a total cholesterol of 200 or more is considered high and therefore statin-worthy. And actually, it doesn’t even have to be over 200. I have a good friend who saw a doctor about something, and she wasn’t a cardiologist, and she prescribed Crestor to him, which is the strongest statin there is. He asked her why she prescribed it when his cholesterol is 165, and she said it was because of his age, which is 70. She told him that she puts all her elderly male patients on Crestor.
Well, he wisely stopped seeing that woman because that is insane. But usually, a cholesterol of 150 or lower is considered ideal. So, if 150 is ideal and 200 is high, the difference is that 150 is 25% lower than 200. Now, why should a difference of a mere 25% in the amount of cholesterol in the blood have any effect whatsoever on whether cholesterol is going to be deposited in the arteries? If there is enough cholesterol in the blood to cause plaquing at a level of 200, I assure you that there is plenty enough there to cause plaquing at 150. The idea that that difference is going to make the difference between plaquing or not plaquing is insane.
Cholesterol is a steroid, and it is the buiilding block of steroid hormones, such as testosterone. And we know that in men, testosterone levels fluctuate very widely. Forget about 25%. There are plenty of men with a testosterone level down in the 200s, while there are also men with a level close to 1000, or even above 1000. And they’re all walking around normally. The idea that the mere mathematical level of cholesterol, that that level, itself, determines whether or not a major pathological process is going to take place, and with very narrow parameters and great sensitivity, is ridiculous.
And let’s remember also that the process of atherosclerosis does not involve cholesterol just “sticking” to the artery. I’ll tell you how it starts. It starts with irritation. Something is irritating the lining of the arteries. It could be cigarette smoke, which is HIGHLY atherogenic. And you know, of course, that tobacco and tobacco smoke contain no cholesterol. And yet this substance is one of the most highly atherogenic substances there is. Why is it so atherogenic? It’s because it’s irritating. It’s because it does damage. And what is the body’s response to damage? Inflammation. So, the first thing is irritation, and the second thing is inflammation. Atherosclerosis starts as an inflammatory process in response to irritation, and the level of cholesterol in the blood has nothing to do with it.
But, of course, there are many things that can irritate the arteries, not just tobacco smoke. And one of those things is said to be oxidized cholesterol. And I am not disputing it. What causes cholesterol to oxidize? Mainly, it’s the way it’s cooked. When people fry and barbecue meats, for example, it causes oxidation of the cholesterol in the meat, and I agree that people shouldn’t be eating those things. But, what does that have to do with the mathematical level of cholesterol in the blood? Nothing.
But, isn’t it true that people with higher cholesterol levels have a higher incidence of heart attacks strokes, blocked arteries, etc.? Well, we know that the healthiest diets contain a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, and that other plant foods, such as nuts and beans, are also cardioprotective. And we know that those foods tend to have a cholesterol-lowering effect. So, having lower cholesterol may be a marker for eating a healthy diet which is cardio-protective. It’s the diet, the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans, that protects you, not the resulting lower cholesterol. They’re putting the cart before the horse.
So, I’m all for eating the kind of diet that naturally results in lower cholesterol. But, that doesn’t mean that if you produce the cholesterol-lowering effect by taking a drug that you have accomplished the same thing.
On my last blood test, which was done in March of this year, my total cholesterol was 152, and my LDL (the so-called bad cholesterol) was 91. Anything below 100 is considered ideal. Obviously, I don’t need a statin drug, although that female doctor in New York would probably put me on one just because of my age.
However, Dr. Gupta did admit that the benefit of statins may be due more to their anti-inflammatory effect than their cholesterol-lowering effect. And that’s been widely said; it’s nothing new. But, he also pointed out that statin drugs are for life; you take them for life. And that is a hell of a big decision to take something as risky as that for the rest of your life. And for what benefit? Even going by their rosiest projections, 100 people would have to take statins for 2 years in order to prevent a single heart attack.
Statins are a racket, and one of the worst in medical history. I would never ever consider taking one. The risk/reward profile for these drugs just plain stinks. They are doing far more harm than good, and much of the harm is untold. I guarantee you that I am going to finish my life, and a statin drug will never enter this body.
Here is the link to Dr. Gupta’s article. This time, he disappointed me.