7 Things You Need To Know if Your Doctor Says Your Cholesterol Is Too High (Before Taking Meds!)

7 Things You Need To
Know if Your Doctor Says Your Cholesterol Is Too High (Before Taking Meds!)
When I first opened my
medical practice in the mid-80s, 
cholesterol, and the fear of having too high a level was
rarely discussed unless your cholesterol level was over 330 or so.
Over the years,
however, cholesterol became a household word for something you must keep as low
as possible, or suffer the consequences. Today, 
dietary fat and cholesterol are typically still portrayed
as the worst foods you can consume.
This is unfortunate,
as these myths are actually harming your health.1 Cholesterol
is one of the most important molecules in your body; indispensable for the
building of cells and for producing stress and sex hormones, as well as vitamin
Since the cholesterol
hypothesis is false, this also means that the recommended therapies—low-fat,
low-cholesterol diet, and cholesterol lowering medications—are doing more harm
than good.
Statin treatment, for example, is largely harmful,
costly, and has transformed millions of people into patients whose health is
being adversely impacted by the drug. As noted by Dr. Frank Lipman in the
featured article:2
“[T]he medical
profession is obsessed with lowering your cholesterol because of misguided
theories about cholesterol and
 heart disease.
Why would we want to
lower it when the research3 actually
shows that three-quarters of people having a first heart attack have normal
cholesterol levels, and when data over 30 years from the well-known Framingham
Heart Study4 showed
that in most age groups, high cholesterol wasn’t associated with more deaths?
In fact, for older
people, deaths were more common with low cholesterol. The research is clear –
statins are being prescribed based on an incorrect hypothesis, and they are not
In his article, Dr.
Lipman discusses seven things you need to know when you have a talk with your
doctor about your cholesterol level. For starters, it’s important to realize
that the conventional view that cholesterol causes heart disease was based on
seriously flawed research right from the start.
#1: Flawed Cholesterol Science Has Done Untold
This includes Dr.
Ancel Keys’ 1953 Seven Countries Study,5 which
linked the consumption of dietary fat to coronary heart disease. When Keys
published his analysis that claimed to prove this link, he selectively included
information from only seven countries, despite having data from 22 countries at
his disposal.
The studies he
excluded were those that did not fit with his preconceived hypothesis. Once the
data from all 22 countries is analyzed, the correlation vanishes. Moreover, as
noted by Dr. Lipman:
“Today’s mainstream
thinking on 
cholesterol is largely based on an influential but flawed
1960s study which concluded that men who ate a lot of meat and dairy had high
levels of cholesterol and of heart disease.
This interpretation
took root, giving rise to what became the prevailing wisdom of the last 40+
years: lay off saturated fats and your cholesterol levels and heart disease
risk will drop.
This helped set off
the stampede to create 
low-fat/no-fat Frankenfoods in the lab and launch the
multibillion-dollar cholesterol-lowering drug business in hopes of reducing
heart disease risk. Did it work? No.
Instead of making
people healthier, we’ve wound up with an obesity and diabetes epidemic that
will wind up driving up rates of heart disease – hardly the result we were
hoping for.”
#2: Cholesterol Is Important for Health
Cholesterol, a soft,
waxy substance, is found not only in your bloodstream but also in every cell in
your body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones (including the
sex hormones testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen), and bile acids that
help you digest fat.
It’s also important
for the production of 
vitamin D, which is vital for optimal health. When
sunlight strikes your bare skin, the cholesterol in your skin is converted into
vitamin D. It also serves as insulation for your nerve cells.  
Cholesterol is also
important for brain health, and helps with the formation of your memories. Low
levels of 
HDL cholesterol has been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, and may also increase your risk of depression, stroke, violent behavior, and suicide.
#3: Total Cholesterol Tells You Virtually
Nothing About Your Health Risk
Your liver makes about
three-quarters or more of your body’s cholesterol, which can be divided into
two types:
lipoprotein or HDL: This is known as the “good” cholesterol,
which may actually help prevent heart disease.
Low-density lipoprotein or LDL: This “bad” cholesterol
circulates in your blood and, according to conventional thinking, may build up
in your arteries, forming plaque that makes your arteries narrow and less
flexible (atherosclerosis). If a clot forms in one of these narrowed arteries
leading to your heart or brain, a heart attack or stroke may result.
Having defined those
two types of cholesterol, it’s worth noting that there’s really only one kind
of cholesterol, as previously explained by 
Dr. Ron Rosedale below.
The division into HDL
and LDL is based on how the cholesterol combines with protein particles. LDL
and HDL are lipoproteins — fats combined with proteins. Cholesterol
fat-soluble, and blood is mostly water. For it to be
transported in your blood, cholesterol needs to be carried by a lipoprotein,
which are classified by density.
Large LDL particles
are not harmful. Only small dense LDL particles can potentially be a problem,
as they can squeeze through the lining of your arteries. If they oxidize, they
can cause damage and inflammation.
#4: Dig Deeper into Your Risk Factors…
Fortunately, once you
know about particle size numbers, you can take control of your health and
either ask your doctor for this test, or order it yourself. Kresser recommends
using the NMR Lipo Profile. All major labs offer it, including LabCorp and
Quest. As noted by Dr. Lipman, if your doctor tells you your cholesterol is too
high based on the standard lipid profile, getting a more complete picture is
important—especially if you have a family history of heart disease or other
risk factors. He writes:
“Press your doctor to
review and assess the other often overlooked but possibly more important
factors that can shed a brighter light on your unique situation – namely tests
which look at hs-C-reactive protein, particle sizes of the LDL cholesterol
(sometimes called NMR Lipo profile), Lipoprotein (a) and serum fibrinogen.
These measurable physical clues will help fill in a few more pieces of the
puzzle, and enable you and your doctor to develop a more customized program to
help manage your risk, with or without cholesterol drugs. If your doc’s not
interested in looking under the medical hood, then it may be time to switch to
a new mechanic.”
#5: Be Very Wary of Pro-Statin Studies
Most pro-statin
studies are sponsored by the drug manufacturers, which will typically skew
results in their favor. Worse yet, conflicts of interest have become more of
the norm than the exception when guidelines are created. For example, the
revised and highly controversial 
 issued by
American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology
(ACC) in 2013 were created by a number of individuals who had conflicting
interests. This includes:
The lead author, Dr.
Neil J. Stone, who is a strong proponent of statin usage and has received
honoraria for educational lectures from Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers
Squibb, Kos, Merck, Merck/Schering-Plough, Novartis, Pfizer, Reliant, and
Sankyo. He’s also served as a consultant for Abbott, Merck,
Merck/Schering-Plough, Pfizer, and Reliant.
The second author
listed, Jennifer Robinson, admitted to the New York Times in 2011
that she was taking research money from seven companies, including some top
sellers of cholesterol pills.
Another author, C.
Noel Bairey Merz, received lecture honoraria from Pfizer, Merck, & Kos, and
has served as a consultant for Pfizer, Bayer, and EHC (Merck). She’s also
received unrestricted institutional grants for Continuing Medical Education
from Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Novartis, Wyeth, AstraZeneca, and
Bristol-Myers Squibb Medical Imaging, as well as a research grant from Merck.
She also has stocks in Boston Scientific, IVAX, Eli Lilly, Medtronic, Johnson
& Johnson, SCIPIE Insurance, ATS Medical, and Biosite.
#6: Assess Your Actual Need for a
Cholesterol-Lowering Drug
As noted by Dr.
Lipman, cholesterol-lowering drugs are not required or prudent for the majority
of people—especially if high cholesterol and longevity run in your family.
“Regardless, don’t be afraid to push back and tell your doc you’d prefer to
avoid drug therapies,” he writes. “Assuming you’re not in a mission critical
situation, discuss the possibility of trying a more holistic approach to get
your numbers down to what is considered a normal or healthy zone based on all
of your specific risk factors, not just your cholesterol numbers.”
In addition to the
tests mentioned earlier, including the NMR Lipo profile, the following tests
can give you a far better assessment of your heart disease risk than your total
cholesterol alone:
HDL/Cholesterol ratio:
HDL percentage is a very potent 
heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level
by your total cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent.
ratios: You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio.
That percentage should be below 2.
Your fasting insulin
level: Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates like fructose and refined grains
generates a rapid rise in blood glucose and then insulin to compensate for the
rise in blood sugar. The insulin released from eating too many carbs promotes
fat accumulation and makes it more difficult for your body to shed excess
weight. Excess fat, particularly around your belly, is one of the major
contributors to heart disease
Your fasting blood sugar level: Studies have shown that people with
fasting blood sugar
 of 100-125 mg/dl
had a nearly 300 percent increase higher risk of having coronary heart disease
than people with a level below 79 mg/dl.
Your iron level: Iron can be a very potent oxidative stress, so if
you have 
excess iron levels you can damage your blood vessels and
increase your risk of heart disease. Ideally, you should monitor your ferritin
levels and make sure they are not much above 80 ng/ml. The simplest way to
lower them if they are elevated is to donate your blood. If that is not
possible you can have a therapeutic phlebotomy and that will effectively
eliminate the excess iron from your body.
An important side
note: if you do decide to take a statin drug, you need to make sure you take
CoQ10 or Ubiquinol with it. One in four Americans over the age of 45 currently
take a statin drug, and most are not told they need to take coenzyme Q10 to
buffer against some of the most devastating side effects of the drug. As
previously explained by Dr. Sinatra, statins block not just cholesterol
production pathways, but several other biochemical pathways as well, including
CoQ10 and squalene—the latter of which Dr. Sinatra believes is essential in
preventing breast cancer.
#7: Focus on Boosting Your HDL
The science of heart
disease is still imprecise. As noted by Dr. Lipman: “Ultimately, the more
HDL-boosting steps you take, the better the odds, and if you’re able to do it
without medicating the numbers, so much the better.” What exactly are these
steps? Needless to say, your diet has a lot to do with it, and step number one
is to ignore conventional advice to eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Dr.
Lipman includes a list of 10 strategies that will help reduce your risk of
heart disease, which dovetail rather precisely with my own recommendations.
This includes the following:
Replace processed
foods (which are loaded with refined sugar and carbs, processed fructose, and
trans fat—all of which promote heart disease) with whole, unprocessed or
minimally processed foods, ideally organic and/or locally grown.
Avoid meats and other
animal products such as dairy and eggs sourced from animals raised in confined
animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Instead, opt for grass-fed, pastured
varieties, raised according to organic standards.
Eliminate no-fat and
low-fat foods, and increase consumption of healthy fats. Half of the population
suffers with insulin resistance and would benefit from consuming 50-85 percent
of their daily calories from healthy saturated fats, such as avocados, butter
made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw dairy, organic pastured egg yolks,
coconuts and coconut oil, unheated organic nut oils, raw nuts, and grass-fed
meats. No- or low-fat foods are usually processed foods that are high in sugar,
which raises your small, dense LDL particles.
Balancing your omega-3
to omega-6 ratio is also key for heart health, as these fatty acids help build
the cells in your arteries that make the prostacyclin that keeps your blood
flowing smoothly. Omega-3 deficiency can cause or contribute to very serious
health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying
factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year. For more information about
omega-3s and the best sources of this fat, please review this previous article.
You also need the
appropriate ratios of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, and all of
these are generally abundant in a whole food diet. To get more fresh vegetables
into your diet, consider juicing.
Optimize your vitamin
D level. Some researchers, like Dr. Stephanie Seneff, believe that optimizing
your vitamin D level through regular sun exposure, as opposed to taking an oral
supplement, may be key to optimizing your heart health. If you do opt for a
supplement, you also increase your need for vitamin K2.
Optimize your gut
health. Regularly eating fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, will
help reseed your gut with beneficial bacteria that may play an important role
in preventing heart disease and countless other health problems.
Quit smoking and
reduce your alcohol consumption.
Exercise regularly.
Exercise is actually one of the safest, most effective ways to prevent and treat
heart disease. In 2013, researchers at Harvard and Stanford reviewed 305
randomized controlled trials, concluding there were “no statistically
detectable differences” between physical activity and medications for
heart disease. High-intensity interval training, which requires but a fraction
of the time compared to conventional cardio, has been shown to be especially
Pay attention to your
oral health. There’s convincing evidence linking the state of your teeth and
gums to a variety of health issues, including heart disease. In one 2010
study,7 those with the worst oral hygiene increased their risk of developing
heart disease by 70 percent, compared to those who brush their teeth twice a
Avoid statins, as the
side effects of these drugs are numerous, while the benefits are debatable. In
my view, the only group of people who may benefit from a cholesterol-lowering
medication are those with genetic familial hypercholesterolemia. This is a
condition characterized by abnormally high cholesterol, which tends to be
resistant to lowering with lifestyle strategies like diet and exercise.

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