Women and cholesterol
Critical cholesterol study: no reporting
Did you know about the large study in 2011 that showed women with high cholesterol had fewer heart attacks than those with lower cholesterol? I didn’t either, and I read my daily newspaper assiduously and am frequently tuned into the cable news channels.
Cholesterol blood test
I finally found out through the newspaper, but not in the news sections. The information was contained in a syndicated column by a journalist demonstrating that commonly accepted science often is faulty. The main thrust of the column was that an enormous meta-analysis of 72 studies showed no difference between heart and vascular problems of persons who consumed high amounts of saturated fat and those whose intake was low. I did know about another beta-analysis, albeit not as large, in 2010, which showed similar results. To learn more about the cholesterol study, I had to Google, and found it in the blog of a freelance writer on natural health.
Norwegians debunk cholesterol hype
The author, Elizabeth Walling, reported on a study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, which took data on 52,087 persons aged 20 to 74. The researchers adjusted for health-related factors and found that women with cholesterol higher than 270 had a 28 percent lower death rate than women with cholesterol under 193. The chances of women getting heart disease, heart attacks and strokes also were less with higher cholesterol.
Here is the researchers’ conclusion to their study, as reported in PubMed.gov, the U.S. National Library of Medicine for the National Institutes of Health: “Our study provides an updated epidemiological indication of possible errors in the CVD (cardio-vascular disease) risk algorithms of many clinical guidelines. If our findings are generalizable, clinical and public health recommendations regarding the ‘dangers’ of cholesterol should be revised. This is especially true for women, for whom moderately elevated cholesterol (by current standards) may prove to be not only harmless but even beneficial.”
Top alternative physicians and researchers have been telling us for some time that the so-called bad, LDL, cholesterol, comes in two varieties, one in small particles and the other in large particles. As Walling reported, “Large particles seem to do little harm in the body while small LDL particles do more serious damage and may be a more reliable predictor of heart disease.”
Heart healthy foods
Is “bad” LDL good?
But is even the small-particle LDL harmful? When arteries have been damaged by inflammation, the liver produces LDL, which shoots to those sites to protect those arteries. LDL isn’t the problem, but inflammation, caused by several factors, among which may be bad diet, stress and lack of exercise. Traditionally, however, blood tests don’t distinguish between the types of LDL.
Cholesterol-heart attack link broken
“If high cholesterol itself was a clear predictor of heart attack,” Walling writes, “then you must assume that lowering cholesterol levels is an effective way to prevent heart attacks. This is simply not true.” More than 40 trials investigating whether lower cholesterol levels were tied to less heart disease showed similar rates of heart attack and mortality in the groups who lowered their cholesterol and those who didn’t. She provided specifics on some.
However, Walling warns, “cholesterol levels shouldn’t be ignored entirely. It’s important to have an accurate picture of your overall health, and very high cholesterol may be an indicator of other risk factors.”
But overall, she said, “Our focus on lowering cholesterol to prevent heart disease and mortality is misplaced. It also fails to serve in the best interest of our health and wellness. In fact, the dogmatic belief that cholesterol must be lowered appears to best serve pharmaceutical companies, which profit from cholesterol-lowering drugs.”
And they are aided and abetted by the media.