The High Cholesterol Myth – Are Statin Drugs Making You Sick?
By Don Penven (This article originally appeared on EzineArticles.com where I am listed as a Platinum Level Expert Author.)
A frightening number of the U.S. population is plagued with high cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that approximately one in every six adults-17% of the U.S. adult population-has high blood cholesterol. Anyone, including children, can develop this problem. It greatly increases the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
In the form of a disclaimer, I need to make it clear that I am not in any way affiliated with the medical community, have no medical training and am not a nutritionist. The tone of my writing should be proof of that! I chose this topic to write about because I was diagnosed with high cholesterol nearly 10 years ago and the cost for medication busts our budget every month.
Medical science defines cholesterol as a combination of lipoproteins that can be good or bad for your health.
· High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) known as Good Cholesterol
· Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) known as Bad Cholesterol.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Cholesterol
The discussion about cholesterol begins with why is it in our bodies in the first place? Neither medical or paleontological science can tell us when Nature or our Higher Power decided that the human body needed a cleansing mechanism. The blood stream picks up impurities from the environment, so to provide a mechanism to flush away this stuff, cholesterol evolved as “domestic help” that does the housecleaning.
Our Cro-Magnon Ancestors
Our ancient ancestors, probably the cro-magnons, were subject to impurities in their diet that left alone would have certainly shortened their lifespan. Cro-magnon man is considered by paleontologists today “Anatomically Modern Human” (AMH) or “‘Early Modern Human” (EMH) as a way to identify Paleolithic humans who resembled us, but did not exhibit what we view as modern human behavior. Nor did they have ready access to fast food joints and pizza parlors.
The Caveman Diet
A lot of what they ate included meat they hunted and killed first or leftovers from some passing carnivore. Their diet was bereft of french fries, fried onion rings and cheesecake. They supplemented their meat diet with leaves, grasses and roots. Of course they had no need to wash what they ate because there were no insecticides or other similar pollutants to deal with. But chances are they ate some dirt along with these primeval house salads. And dirt is often full of microbes and other creepy-crawly things.
Cholesterol to the Rescue
Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver. The raw material for this concoction is mostly fat from your diet. You might say that cholesterol functions much like a drain cleaner. The liver mixes the lipoproteins with blood purified by the liver and it uses molecules of cholesterol as mini delivery vans. Cholesterol provides protection for every cell membrane in our body. Cholesterol carries away the gunk that has been bombarding our body cells, leaving them healthy, wealthy and wise.
As a healing mechanism, cholesterol also has the job of repairing injured blood vessels that may break or leak for any number of reasons, depending on how clumsy you are. This necessary function is related to “plaque,” which it creates and uses as a kind of superglue. Cholesterol also creates a bunch of hormones, it helps to convert sunlight into vitamin D and it churns out some other neat substances that help with your digestion.
So cholesterol is a very important substance floating around in our blood stream. Without it our fragile body cells would shrivel up and die.
Discovery of Cholesterol.
Some say that a French doctor named de la Sale discovered cholesterol back in the 1700s. He apparently intended to keep the discovery to himself, but it was leaked to the media by someone not authorized to make formal announcements.
Statin Drugs Appear
A little more than two centuries later a Japanese scientist isolated a natural substance that many believed would slow down liver production of cholesterol, but this stuff was a bit too strong for human use, but they did manage to kill a number of dogs during their research. It didn’t take long for one of the big drug companies to grab ahold of the idea and bring it to market. Billions of dollars later, as sales skyrocketed, “statins” became the drug of choice to regulate liver output.
Statin Side Effects
When my cardiologist prescribed a statin drug for my malady I asked about side effects. He named a few: headaches, trouble sleeping, muscle aches and pains, drowsiness, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. All I can say is-why would anyone in his right mind subject himself to this kind of legalized torture? Well… because my doctor said it was necessary.
And yes, I have experienced most of these side effects and a few more not mentioned.
In my recent research I have been finding “second opinions” regarding the use of statins. Some thinking is that statins have become a cash cow for Big Pharma and some doctors are having second thoughts about the efficacy of statins. But the almighty Dollar rules in this situation so it may be a while before enough people learn that there are indeed, natural methods for keeping the cholesterol level down within reason.
Here are a few tips to get you started:Eat a balanced, heart-healthy diet that includes green, leafy veggies, limit meat of all kinds and colors, drink lots of water every day, and avoid processed foods that are jam-packed with salt and sugar.
Get regular physical activity like I do. I walk my dog CindyLou several times a day and I take the stairs in lieu of the escalator or elevator. And on a few occasions I play golf.
Limit alcohol intake. I don’t drink any alcohol because I’m allergic to it. It makes me break out into a rash-a rash of stupidness.
Stop smoking. OK, I am working on this one.
Not long ago I created a website covering my adventures with High Blood Pressure and recently added a section on cholesterol. Please take a moment to drop by. I offer much more Important Information.
Author’s Note: A few months back I kicked the statin habit. I came to believe that the side-effects do not justify the expense that seemingly is putting me more at risk than I need to be. I DO NOT recommend that you take this drastic step before discussing it with your health care provider. I have made several lifestyle changes to keep my cholesterol levels where they should be and as time passes I will keep you up to date.
This Blind Hog is Rootin’ for ya