The straight dope on cholesterol – Part I

I’ve been planning to write at length about this topic for a few months, but I’ve been hesitant to do so for several reasons:

  1. To discuss it properly requires great care and attention (mine and yours, respectively).
  2. My own education on this topic only really began about 9 months ago, and I’m still learning from my mentors at a geometric pace.
  3. This topic can’t be covered in one post, even a Peter-Attia-who-can’t-seem-to-say-anything-under-2,000-word post.
  4. I feel a bit like an imposter writing about lipidology because my mentors on this topic (below) have already addressed this topic so well, I’m not sure I have anything to add.

But here’s the thing.  I am absolutely – perhaps pathologically – obsessed with lipidology, the science and study of lipids.  Furthermore, I’m getting countless questions from you on this topic.  Hence, despite my reservations above, I’m going to give this a shot.

Read more: http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/the-straight-dope-on-cholesterol-part-i

 

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The Cholesterol Myths

Click on the blue arrows if you want references to the scientific literature

 1  Cholesterol is not a deadly poison, but a substance vital to the cells of all mammals. There are no such things as good or bad cholesterol, but mental stress, physical activity and change of body weight may influence the level of blood cholesterol. A high cholesterol is not dangerous by itself, but may reflect an unhealthy condition, or it may be totally innocent.

 2  A high blood cholesterol is said to promote atherosclerosis and thus also coronary heart disease. But many studies have shown that people whose blood cholesterol is low become just as atherosclerotic as people whose cholesterol is high.

 3  Your body produces three to four times more cholesterol than you eat. The production of cholesterol increases when you eat little cholesterol and decreases when you eat much. This explains why the ”prudent” diet cannot lower cholesterol more than on average a few per cent.

 4  There is no evidence that too much animal fat and cholesterol in the diet promotes atherosclerosis or heart attacks. For instance, more than twenty studies have shown that people who have had a heart attack haven’t eaten more fat of any kind than other people, and degree of atherosclerosis at autopsy is unrelated with the diet.

 5 The only effective way to lower cholesterol is with drugs, but neither heart mortality or total mortality have been improved with drugs the effect of which is cholesterol-lowering only. On the contrary, these drugs are dangerous to your health and may shorten your life.

 6  The new cholesterol-lowering drugs, the statins, do prevent cardio-vascular disease, but this is due to other mechanisms than cholesterol-lowering. Unfortunately, they also stimulate cancer in rodents, disturb the functions of the muscles, the heart and the brain and pregnant women taking statins may give birth to children with malformations more severe than those seen after thalidomide.

 7  Many of these facts have been presented in scientific journals and books for decades but are rarely told to the public by the proponents of the diet-heart idea. 

 8  The reason why laymen, doctors and most scientists have been misled is because opposing and disagreeing results are systematically ignored or misquoted in the scientific press.  

 9 The Benefits Of High Cholesterol

How to Interpret Advanced Cholesterol Test Results

After last week’s post on interpreting traditional lipid tests, I promised a follow-up post on interpreting the advanced VAP and NMR Lipoprofile tests that provide measurements of particle size and all the various sub-fractions of HDL and LDL particles. I even hinted that it might be worth bypassing the traditional test entirely and going straight to the advanced stuff if you were going to get your cholesterol measured anyway, because of the greater accuracy and more detailed picture of your lipids the VAP and NMR tests provide.