Worried about cholesterol and/or statins

The vast majority of comments I get on my blogs are about cholesterol and/or statins. I find myself saying the same things over and again, so this post is the one that I’ll now refer queries to – it should answer most of the worries that people seem to have. My top tip is: don’t have a cholesterol test and then you’ll have one fewer thing to worry about.

Worried about high cholesterol

Many of the comments start with people saying that they have high cholesterol. First of all – do you? Or are you part of the scam to make you think that your cholesterol is high because normal has been re-defined? This post may help.

If your cholesterol is anywhere on those normal charts (2-10 mmol/l = 77-387 mg/dl) – you may like to stop worrying.

You should also be aware that the blood cholesterol test doesn’t actually measure LDL (the thing they call ‘bad cholesterol’ – which is not even cholesterol – it’s a Low Density Lipoprotein) – they guess it. See point iv here. You should also be aware that even the total cholesterol, which they do try to measure, is known to be out by as much as 19%.

If you actually have high cholesterol (e.g. 10 mmol/l = 387 mg/dl or above) OR your cholesterol is high for you (i.e. relative to what you know yours normally is – your normal – not the made up normal), remember that your body makes cholesterol for good reason and consider the following: are you injured? stressed? pregnant? recovering from an operation? illness? Any of these will encourage your body to make more cholesterol.

Have you had a cholesterol test taken at the end of winter? in the heart of winter? Vitamin D is made by sunlight synthesizing cholesterol on the skin when you expose your skin to sunlight. Your cholesterol may simply be ‘high’ right now because you haven’t turned it into vitamin D (it’s the low vitamin D that will harm you – not the ‘high’ cholesterol – the high cholesterol can be a sign that you’re lacking vitamin D). Have another test at the end of the summer and make sure you give your body the chance to make some vitamin D with healthy sun exposure (not too much, not burning).

If you know (or think) that you have Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) – take a look at this blog post. It may give you a different perspective on FH. High LDL can be the symptom – not the problem – the problem can be the exact opposite of what is assumed – that LDL is not getting to the cells (including heart cells) where it is vitally needed.

Check out these charts too – read them carefully – yes HIGH cholesterol is associated with LOW deaths and LOW cholesterol is associated with HIGH deaths for men and women, CVD deaths and all-cause mortality. (It’s the same for saturated fat, by the way).

Statins

I’m the wrong person to ask about statins – that’s your decision. It’s the easiest decision in the world for me – a statin will never pass my lips. This may help explain my position – and the fact that I know the utterly vital role that cholesterol plays in the human body and I trust my body to do what it was designed to do WAY more than I trust pharmaceutical companies to forgo profit in my best interests.

You may also like to read this. If you are in the highest risk group possible (men of a certain age who have already had a heart attack), for every 100 of these men given statins for five years, 1.8 men will live, on average, an extra 6 months and 98.2 will gain no benefit. The intelligent thinking in the world of cholesterol is that any ‘benefit’ of statins for this small, very high risk group, results from anti-inflammatory properties of statins; the cholesterol reduction being a serious and unwelcome side effect.

To look at this another way, some September 2015 research showed that you can take statins for years and you might gain an extra 3 days. Again – likely an anti-inflammatory effect; the cholesterol lowering being a serious price to pay.

Talking of side effects, these are substantially understated and those who mention statin side effects are viciously attacked. In March 2014, The Guardian reported Professor Rory Collins as saying “We have really good data from over 100,000 people that show that the statins are very well tolerated. There are only one or two well-documented [problematic] side effects.” Myopathy, or muscle weakness, occurred in one in 10,000 people, he said, and there was a small increase in diabetes.

As a result of the fall-out from this attack on two doctors who dared to mention statin side effects, it was revealed that Professor Rory Collins’s CTSU team, working on statin (and other) studies, has received c. £268 MILLION from pharmaceutical companies that make statins. If you want to know about statin side effects, just read a patient leaflet – by law they have to be more honest than researchers who withhold side-effect data:

The patient leaflet for Lipitor – the most lucrative statin, indeed the most lucrative drug ever in the history of mankind, states the following:

“Common side effects (may affect up to 1 in 10 people) include:

inflammation of the nasal passages, pain in the throat, nose bleed

allergic reactions

increases in blood sugar levels (if you have diabetes continue careful monitoring of your blood sugar levels), increase in blood creatine kinase

headache

nausea, constipation, wind, indigestion, diarrhoea

joint pain, muscle pain and back pain

blood test results that show your liver function can become abnormal

You may also want to google “Statin diabetes lawsuit” to see how that one is gathering pace in the US. Fancy type 2 diabetes with your statin?! Other statin side effects include loss of libido (hello boys?!), loss of energy, muscle fatigue, muscle aches, weakness, loss of memory, loss of cognitive ability – generally feeling that your get up and go has got up and gone – and taken your mind with it. Former NASA astronaut Dr Duane Graveline has written of his experience here and here.

Do also check the patient leaflet for the over the age of 70 caution. I don’t think many doctors are aware of this. If you’re wondering about whether or not you should be on a statin and you’re over the age of 70/approaching this age – even the leaflet will caution against this. That will be because HIGH cholesterol is known to be particularly associated with LOW deaths in more elderly people (and LOW cholesterol with HIGH deaths).

Watch this (just half an hour) to see a doctor tear apart the nonsense in the cholesterol, statins, dietary fat world.

More reading?

If you’d like more free reading, check out anything on cholesterol/statins on Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s site and/or Dr John Briffa’s site.

For books, check out The Great Cholesterol Con; The Great Cholesterol Myth; Ignore the Awkward; Fat and cholesterol are good for you; just for starters – there are many more.

I hope that this answers most of the queries!

99 thoughts on “Worried about cholesterol and/or statins

  • avatar
    December 30, 2016 at 8:53 am
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    Does alcohol raise BP and cholesterol. I drink about 3 glasses a night. Is that too much. Have high BP and take Medstead for these. Have high cholesterol at 8.9.

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    • avatar
      December 30, 2016 at 10:22 am
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      Alcohol can cause damage, which could manifest itself in the symptoms of higher BP and the body making more cholesterol… Always look for the cause, not the symptoms…

      Reply
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    November 23, 2016 at 12:33 am
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    Hi! Zoe

    My concern is in regards to “Why hasn’t healthy diet, regular exercise has not cut my cholesterol?

    My husband is 32 Years old, vegetarian, exercises 5 days a week for an hour. Very active and healthy lifestyle. We simply got his routine checkup done and found that his cholesterol is 8.2 in July16. We further got strict on his diet and after 4 months it only came down to 7.8 in Nov 16. His parents have high cholesterol but their eating and lifestyle is quite unhealthy. Doctor has advised small dose of Lipitor. Dont want to take medication. Its very surprising and not sure what needs to be done about it.

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    • avatar
      November 24, 2016 at 6:41 pm
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      Hi DV
      I can’t write much more about cholesterol and statins than I have in this post. I wouldn’t even measure it. 8.2/7.8 is on the normal distribution, which means it’s normal. Some people are below average, some are above – that’s what a normal distribution is.

      Being veggie might not help. Carbohydrate increases a component part of total cholesterol – VLDL – and everything (other than eggs) a veggie eats contains carbohydrate (only meat & fish are zero carb – eggs have a trace, but are essentially carb free). However, cholesterol is still something I would never personally worry about.

      I certainly would never let a statin pass my lips and given that the most common side effects affect mind and muscles – hubby might not like what statins can do to someone’s ability to exercise – he may suffer no side effects, but as one of the links in this post shows – he may only have a couple of days in 5 years to gain anyway!

      Would you be worrying about cholesterol if big pharma had not made it so?!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
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    October 20, 2016 at 12:05 am
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    I have had to have a stent inserted and have cardiovascular disease though I haven’t had a heart attack. I have a cholesterol level of 10.5 and have refused statins but find all the information a bit confusing because even health care professionals who are opposed to the use of statins often recommend them for people like myself. What do you think? I would really appreciate a reply. I am 65 year old female by the way.

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    • avatar
      October 26, 2016 at 11:03 am
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      Hi Doreen
      Many apologies for the delay – I’m in SA at the Prof Noakes hearing.
      All the key posts I’ve written on this topic are in this post above, so you’ve found my main post on this topic.
      The one thing I can add is that even statin patient leaflets caution against anyone over 70 taking statins. I think they should caution against any human being taking a drug that interferes with the body so drastically, but that’s my opinion!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
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    October 19, 2016 at 1:01 pm
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    Hi, Can you please mention some references to major institutions and or governmental bodies from around the world to support that the LDL level doesn’t have much significance in increasing cardiovascular issues?
    Thanks.

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      October 19, 2016 at 4:56 pm
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      Hi Mike
      It is not for me to show that it doesn’t; it is for those who believe it to show that it does.
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
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    September 14, 2016 at 10:44 pm
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    Hi Zoe

    I’ve been HFLC for three years now. Testing each year has shown lowered triglycerides, higher HDL but also higher LDL and I can’t understand why? As far as I know diet has been constant, as has amount of exercise and stress level. I would really like to get my head around the reason for this as I thought LDL was related to level of carb consumption?

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      September 15, 2016 at 8:42 am
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      Hi Dawn
      VLDL is related to carb consumption.

      I’ve reviewed the evidence as to how certain substances (plant sterols) can lower cholesterol (and raise heart risk) here: http://thescipub.com/abstract/10.3844/ojbsci.2014.167.169%20

      I have found no evidence showing LDL is impacted by food!

      The post is about not worrying about all this stuff that we shouldn’t even measure – let alone worry about! Worry about Syria or pollution but not something your body is making :-)
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    August 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm
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    Dear Zoe,

    I can totally make sense out of your blog here. The only thing that i wish to ask is: As per the symptoms defined by the so called Medical Research, lets say i can relate to seven out of ten. For Eg. Numb Legs, Pain in Jaw, Weakness, etc etc. How do i part these symptoms from the “so-called-problem”, i.e., HIGH CHOLESTROL ?

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      August 23, 2016 at 5:24 pm
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      Hi Ravi
      What do you mean by high cholesterol and why is it a problem?
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    August 11, 2016 at 1:31 am
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    Perhaps I missed it, but you keep referring to the “true normal” but I’m not sure what exactly makes you convinced that it is the true normal. I’m not trying to argue, and I’m not saying you’re wrong. But just because back in, say, the 1960s normal cholesterol was considered 345 mg/dl, that doesn’t mean that was the “true” value. It’s not hard to fathom that as over half a century has gone by, that medical scientists have learned that the old numbers were wrong. I guess where my main concern is that it seems like you’re thinking the old is good, while the present value is just to push statins. And this could totally be true for all I know. And in fact, I hope you’re right, because my cholesterol needs a lot of improvement if conventional wisdom is correct.

    Also, do you think there is any merit to ideal ratios? I can’t remember exactly what, but aren’t there ratios such as LDL divided by HDL or something?

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    • avatar
      August 11, 2016 at 8:28 am
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      Hi Matt
      By true normal I mean the actual normal (peak of the normal distribution) in the normal population. There was a really true normal – before we started trying to lower cholesterol with statins and margarine/plant sterols. Then there is a true normal for today – which is still higher than what has been decreed to be high. i.e. 5mmol/l has been declared as high – but it’s below what even today’s genuine population normal is.

      I don’t think there’s any merit to ratios. I highly recommend Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s The Great Cholesterol Con. He puts it something like this:
      “It’s cholesterol”
      “No it isn’t”
      “It’s bad cholesterol”
      “No such thing”
      “It’s good cholesterol then”
      “See previous answer”
      “It’s the ratio of one to the other…”
      “Oh when will you just shut up and admit you were wrong!”

      My view opened the post – we should not even measure the damn thing!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
      • avatar
        August 12, 2016 at 2:57 pm
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        Thank you for your timely response. I appreciate it.

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  • avatar
    May 12, 2016 at 1:36 pm
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    Dear Zoe

    I spend so much time reading articles about cholesterol and statins to the point that it reduces me to tears because I don’t know what the right thing is to do. I am female, aged 53. I have never had any symptoms of heart disease or heart attack. About 10 years ago I had a cholesterol test out of curiosity and it was 7.3 mmol/L. I was advised to go to my GP. I was not put on statins at that time but advised to alter my diet and lifestyle which I did. Plenty of exercise, low fat diet etc. But I wasn’t obsessive about it.
    My cholesterol did go down slightly but was still above the recommended 5.0. About 5 years ago I was put on statins and tried three different ones but none had any effect until I tried Rosuvastatin. This brought my cholesterol down to 4.7. However, I wanted to consult a specialist for his advice which I did. Simply because my cholesterol didn’t react much to lifestyle changes and that my mother had a heart attack in her early 70’s (it was a mild heart attack and repaired with a stent. She has not had any other cardiac issues before this heart attack or since), the consultant diagnosed me with Familial Hypercholesterolaemia and told me to stay on Rosuvastatin.
    Having read all the recent research and opinions about statins I took myself off it about a month ago. I don’t know what my current cholesterol level is but plan to get another test soon. I am totally confused about whether or not I have FH. Neither parents have high cholesterol.
    I feel just as scared to be on statins as off them and really don’t know what to do. I don’t seem to have any obvious outward symptoms of FH, like fatty deposits.
    Obviously I don’t want to die of a heart attack in the next 5 years! but the highest my cholesterol has ever been without statins is 7.3.
    As for whether I have FH or not I really don’t know. The consultant mentioned the fact that my mother, being German/European, could account for my FH. My father is Indian.
    As I am going to be 54 this year and statistics for people with FH are not that great at this age I am starting to worry!!!
    What would your advice be to me please.

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    • avatar
      May 12, 2016 at 1:37 pm
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      PS: I am 5′ 2″ and 50 kg weight. Always been slim.

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      May 12, 2016 at 3:53 pm
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      Hi Yasmin
      Posts like this make me think there are not nearly enough law suits in the medical world. If I were your lawyer, I would be suing someone for the unnecessary stress that they have caused you. And stress IS a genuine issue with heart disease – unlike many of the things they want you to worry about…

      This is my view – this is not medical advice – you can see what I think about cholesterol and statins from the post that you have commented on, so none of this will surprise you…

      1) This is a fact – not an opinion – 5.0 mmol/l is not scientific. It is not high. It is below the true norm for cholesterol. Someone with a chol level of 5 would have below average chol. They just made up the definition of normal/high etc – that’s still a fact. This bit is opinion: presumably to be able to statinate more people. This is the post showing what is the true normal vs what they made up http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/06/diabetes-cholesterol-bp-normal-is-no-longer-normal/

      2) This is virtually certainly a fact – you do not have FH with a cholesterol level of 7 anything. 1 in 500 people have FH. Typical chol levels are in double figures even when on statins. This is the person I would sue. I would put a lot of money on the fact that you do not have FH. You have bad medical advisors.

      I can’t advise but I can tell you that worrying will do more harm than a cholesterol level of 7. Statins will do more harm than a chol level of 7 (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2013/10/how-statin-drugs-really-lower-cholesterol-and-kill-you-one-cell-at-a-time/). In my opinion the worst thing you ever did was to have a chol test and the only thing you should worry about is getting better medical advice.

      I really could shoot some people when I read how anxious those people have made innocent people like this :-(
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    March 15, 2016 at 8:26 pm
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    Hello Zoe!

    I appreciate your article.

    I’m having a hard time deciding what to do. I’m 24 years old and quite healthy… besides the fact that my total cholesterol is 330 and my LDL-P is over 2000.

    I have normal-low blood pressure, slim enough at 5’7 and 150 lbs. I’m sure I could exercise more than I do and I’m making an effort to increase my Vitamin D levels.

    My father’s cholesterol is high, so are my mother’s and brother’s… but mine remains the highest… as their’s all fall into the range of 240-260.

    My doctor says I should go on Statins and be monitored.

    Someone else has recommended that I try high doses of Niacin.

    This has me extremely stressed out… especially since I’m moving to Australia from the US in about a week, and I’m not too keen on taking statins and I’m worried about my abilities to be properly monitored over there.

    All of this puts me in a high-risk category for stroke/heart disease.

    I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to get away without treatment during the 7 + months that I’ll be over there.

    Now that I’ve finished venting all of that, are you familiar with the Niacin studies? Any advice is welcome.

    Thank you!

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    • avatar
      March 17, 2016 at 2:30 pm
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      Hi Samantha
      I’m still puzzled as to why you want to lower cholesterol? Cholesterol might be a marker of health (as opposed to a maker of health) but these graphs suggest not even that hypothesis golds (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2010/11/cholesterol-heart-disease-there-is-a-relationship-but-its-not-what-you-think/). If you try to lower cholesterol artificially (niacin? who knows, who cares!), you still have whatever underlying condition may be a problem.

      You’re 24 and female so can’t go on statins if you want children. I assume doc thinks the same?! If you really want to understand heart disease – read the set of blogs here (http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/) start at number I…

      Sunbathing will help – it lowers cholesterol by turning it into vit D. In my view (and that of others), the extra vit D is what will help you – the lower cholesterol is just a pathway.

      Stress (as the Dr Malc posts will show) is really bad for heart disease so I want to vent at the doctors/drug companies who made up and perpetuate this entire cholesterol nonsense because the unnecessary stress they have caused you will do more harm!

      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    March 7, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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    I have been taking statins for some years now, following an initial fasting result of 8.9 – I am now at 5.6, and was put on Crestor 40mg plus Exetrol 10 mg by the lipid clinic at Edinburgh Hospital – I was sent there to find out if there was a genetic link – my male cousin had a level of 14 and heart attack at 50 – but in my case it isn’t genetic. I have recently started to see a nutritionist who suggested reading your blog and Matthew Kendrick’s The Cholestrol Con’, and I am wondering if it,is ok for me to come off the statins or at 8.9 would I still be at risk. I have recently been told by my new GP practice that my blood sugar levels are raised and that puts me in the pre- diabetic range, I have raised liver function results and low thyroid. Liver function has been slightly raised for sometime and for years I thought I might have low thyroid but tests with my previous GP always indicated not – although a private slimming doctor did at some stage put me on thyroxin because he judged the tests to indicate low level in the blood. I have always felt I was pretty healthy until now! Your thoughts please..

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    • avatar
      March 8, 2016 at 8:14 am
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      Hi Cathy
      I can’t give any advice – I can share thoughts – as you kindly differentiated!

      I like the sound of your nutritionist – it’s Dr Malcolm Kendrick, but you’ve got the book title right – one of my favourite books of all time. Scottish humour too! Dr Malc also blogs here: http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/
      You may particularly enjoy this blog given your mention of thyroid: http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2015/05/01/treating-thyroid-patients-like-children/

      We are all at risk of heart disease – older people way more than younger people (way, way more!); men more than women; family history more than no family history. Statins don’t prevent heart attacks; nothing can prevent a heart attack in anyone. As one of the linked articles in the post you commented on shares, statins might buy someone an extra 3 days (http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/9/e007118.full) (and – in my view and that of a number of others – this is not because of any cholesterol lowering mechanism, but because of the anti-inflammatory effects). I have still not seen any evidence of any benefit of statins in women.

      You may also like to google “statins diabetes lawsuit” if you have developed (pre)diabetes since being on statins. Check the statins patient leaflet for liver cautions too. Sounds like you’re getting way more than you bargained for with these drugs.

      It’s your decision on the statins – you’re reading the right stuff to counter the existing position. Ask your doc for evidence of any absolute benefit they will give you (doc may not have seen that BMJ article) and ask doc for the evidence on side effects. Given that most docs still think there’s such a thing as good and bad cholesterol, that should be fun!

      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    February 29, 2016 at 8:57 pm
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    Soooooo pleased to have come across this site. Same position 49 high cholesterol 10.6 live in Scotland no sun, moved from SA lots of sun. Cholesterol always a bit high but here they seem to think it needs threating. BP is 154 / 94 heart rate 94 bpm BMI 31, not happy about it but I do not feel grossly obese. I’m active, but do suffer from muscular skeletal pain due to spinal fusion for scoliosis. Cannot imagine more pain from statins. Checking diet and trying to keep fit. Amazing wealth of info. Thanks.

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    February 2, 2016 at 1:29 pm
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    I have read through your posts but cannot see anything regarding the Wholefoodplantbased diet. I was put onto it by a contributor to the HeartUK forum. I had a coronary artery test and came out as high risk, this was a private test. I had a stress test under the NHS and came out as excellent! So my heart is strong even if my arteries are terrible. After four weeks on the WFPB diet my cholesterol came down to 3.6 from 4.9 and my LDL came down from 2.7 to 1.5. I increased the statin from 20mg to 40mg after the cat test and take a junior aspirin. I would like to come off the statins if I can keep my readings down. All the information comes from the USA, can find none from the UK. You opinion please if you have time.

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    January 25, 2016 at 9:02 pm
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    Not sure where you came from Zoe… But you are my hero! I am a 50 yr old healthy woman with “hereditary” high cholesterol. I’d like to know HOW we know it’s hereditary. So my mom and other family members had the same eating habits as me? As far as I can go back, I can’t find an incidence of heart attack or stroke in my family. How can this be hereditary? For the last 3 years I have been on Crestor (half a 10mg pill a day). Just recently I have been having back muscular issues and weaned myself off and stopped. Latest reading was 5.9 total, 4.0 LDL, 2.1 Trig, and 1.3 HDL (2 days after my last pill).. Those numbers are all borderline high here in Canada. Now I’m not sure if that’s with a little trace of the Crestor still in there, or if it’s with the Omega 3, Oatmeal I have for breakie, no carbs and as little sugar as possible, I’ve been doing… Either way, I’m nervous about my next blood test.. I’ve been reading about this “statin rebound”.
    PS.. my doctor doesn’t know I quit..
    Thanks again Zoe.. Finally someone who is compassionate about this situation.. I was trying to figure out how the US’s recession cleared up so quickly.. it was the billions of dollars in statins that paid the bills!!

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 26, 2016 at 8:54 am
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      Hi Lilly
      So good to hear that you can laugh about this! I’d be mad as a bag of frogs!

      You’ve landed on my main post about cholesterol/statins so hopefully you’ve found some interesting stuff – especially the “normal has been redefined” first link.

      I can’t remember if this is referenced anywhere – this is how those oatmeal/plant sterol kind of things ‘work’ http://thescipub.com/abstract/10.3844/ojbsci.2014.167.169
      I personally quite like porridge (as we call it!) but I don’t like knowing what it’s doing to my own cholesterol!

      Don’t forget you’re in the heart of winter too – when cholesterol is highest naturally (funny that they do tests at this time of year!) I wouldn’t go until I’d been sunbathing a while. In fact – I wouldn’t go near anyone who wanted to cholesterol test me…

      Good luck!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    November 3, 2015 at 11:27 pm
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    Hi Zoe, Im so pleased that you’ve exposed this bad science and hopefuly medics & healthy people will take note, I unfortunately took the wrong advice in the eary eighties thinking that I would live long and healthy but now I have Diabetes, Angina, & CVD. I avoided saturated fat & cholesterol and increased carbohydrates as I was advised, I’m 67 years old with a pension from an “anuity” makes you wonder if someone else has a financial interest in this bad science, George.
    P.S. I’ve stopped taking the statins and my GP did’nt comment.

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  • avatar
    October 6, 2015 at 10:48 am
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    Hi Zoe,

    A friend advised me to read some articles on you website regarding cholesterol and statins. I am quite shocked that we have been duped and that statins are in fact detrimental rather than beneficial. My question is that if cholesterol is good why has it been linked with the clogging of the arteries and heart disease?

    Thanks

    Richard

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    • avatar
      October 6, 2015 at 11:16 am
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      Hi Richard – because cholesterol is found at the scene of the crime. When the endothelial wall is damaged (lining of the artery) – by smoking/stress/pollutants whatever – not fat! – lipoproteins (LDL) travelling around the blood stream stop at the scene of the damage to repair things. LDL carries cholesterol, protein, triglyceride and phospholipids – all needed for repair. The person dies from the damage, the autopsy is held and cholesterol is in the plaques.

      View cholesterol as the fire fighters who arrive at the scene of the fire – they’re always there, those pesky fire fighters – but they didn’t start the fire!

      Hope this helps
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
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    September 21, 2015 at 8:50 am
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    Hi Zoe, I am a cholesterol sceptic but a question on the effects of cholesterol in foods. Chris Masterjohn reckons that for around 80% of people dietary cholesterol has no impact on blood cholesterol. I am wondering whether he might be correct. Spending a week on eggs for breakfast and lambs liver for dinner twice saw my LDL go from 3.0 to 4.0, the highest it has ever been. What is your take on Masterjohns theory. I must retry this rather simple home experiment to see if I fluked it or not.

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      September 21, 2015 at 10:08 am
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      Hi there
      This is the seminal paper on dietary cholesterol having no impact on blood cholesterol http://jn.nutrition.org/content/59/1/39.full.pdf – by the man who started the whole hypothesis!

      Don’t even bother with n=1 experiments. Not many people know how inaccurate the test is (www.bmj.com/content/298/6689/1659) try 19%! There are so many things (food in previous 24 hours, time of day, time of year, standing up, stress, running late….) that would impact a chol test and then the whole darn thing is a 19% guestimate anyway!

      I have heard the argument that – if you eat more dietary cholesterol, the body needs to make less, but it still aims for the same amount. Never bothered with any of this personally. I just trust nature to provide food and don’t think she’s out to get me and I trust my body to make what it needs – I don’t think that is out to get me either. Simple person at the end of the day!

      Best wishes – zoe

      Reply
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    September 20, 2015 at 9:36 am
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    Hi, Just got back from the HeartUK conference and it was quite frightening to witness this Cholesterol Fest’. I have made a couple of entries on my blog which gives you a feel for the day.

    https://heartattackandthenhs.wordpress.com/

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  • avatar
    September 15, 2015 at 10:44 pm
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    Apologies for being so direct, but a lot of nonsense here.

    We are born with a cholesterol level of 100 mg/dl. Cholesterol is of course essential to human life, but we make all we need. People talk about normal levels in the US population being 200. That is true in a statistical sense, but the problem with that analysis is the normal (or average) person in the US dies of heart disease. In other words, heart disease is the leading cause of death. The statistical evidence is that up to 150, there is no increased risk of dying from heart disease. As the level rises, the risk rises.

    What is illuminating is to look at populations where heart disease is essentially nonexistent. Guess what, they don’t eat grass-fed beef, or free-range chickens, or extra creamy butter from happy cows. They eat plant-based diets with little or no animal protein. No dairy foods and no oils.

    It is of course very difficult to run controlled experiments on human diet for very long. But during the second world war basically that was done. Diets were forcibly changed by the occupying Germans. They confiscated the meat, dairy, cheese, and other rich foods. What happened during these times of incredible stress? Heart attacks plummeted. What happened after the war ended and diets returned to normal? Deaths from heart disease went right back up to the old levels.

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    August 12, 2015 at 5:29 pm
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    My mother has really high cholesterol in the 300 levels. She did have heart disease. So the doctors told me I need to check mine. Well I also have high cholesterol They have been telling me I am going to die of heart attack for years now. When I was 40 they cajoled me into taking statins. My cholesterol was around 280, LDL was like 200. Well the STATINS caused me to develop prediabetes and muscle pain and oh so many terrible side effects. The doctors just said, oh we will give you another pill for that and now they want to do heart scans. I quit the statins and am now terrified of doctors. I don’t want to go over there EVER. I am supposed to have a blood test, but I won’t go. I can’t even stand looking at the office building anymore.

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    August 3, 2015 at 6:00 pm
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    Hi. Could someone please comment on how the menopause affects Cholesterol levels. I am a 57 year old Female with my last Period November 2014. My latest Cholesterol Test results: Total Serum 8.3, HDL 3.06, LDL 4.7, Trigs, 1.1 and Total/HDL ratio 2.71. FSH blood test was 93.7 and LSH was 43.6. In my head I know that this is all fine, that it is because of my age I get 8.3, nothing to worry about, etc, but I have had to book the obligatory Telephone Consultation with my GP to discuss. I refuse Statins (been there, done that, lost the ability to walk), refuse Ezetrol (been there, done that, no change in results and read horrific stories about Cancer). I eat Low Carb, simple clean eating, lots of green vegetables, meat, fish and eggs and no processed foods or starches. Please, I need something to throw at my GP, preferably not a hardback book but some facts.

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      August 3, 2015 at 7:00 pm
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      Hi Jules
      This may help http://drhyman.com/blog/2012/01/19/why-women-should-stop-their-cholesterol-lowering-medication/

      Better still – I don’t understand why healthy people are seeing doctors?! My first tip in this blog post is don’t have a cholesterol test! I know you’ve now had one – but I’m shocked by the number of people seeking help to manage aggressive/persuasive doctors. It’s your body – doc needs to respect that!

      Best wishes – Zoe

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        August 3, 2015 at 7:26 pm
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        Thanks Zoe for the link. Sadly I started having cholesterol tests many years ago all because my mum had ‘high cholesterol’ and was on Statins. Lack of knowledge back then but now am in the loop of Travel Insurance asking me what my cholesterol levels are and me having to declare the numbers. I truly do wish I had never had that very first test – if I could turn back the clock, if I knew then what I know now etc, etc.

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        August 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm
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        My understanding is that doctors are paid (bribed) to drag in well people for tests, and paid again for eg. getting a sufficient proportion of their patients onto statins etc. Then of course once you’re on regular medication you are dragged in to see the nurse every six months to be talked down to.
        Less than a decade ago we could get to see a doctor within a few days. Recently I needed to see one for a valid reason: the only appointment available with “my” GP was a cancellation the following morning. There were no other appontments available within the month and “the computer” will not permit appointments to be made more than a month ahead. So all other actually ill people were SOL, unless they could be fobbed off on a nurse. A three week wait for a doctor is pretty routine, you have to decide in advance when to be ill.
        Many doctors do not agree with this but their hands are tied. On the other hand patients have been dropped from their lists for not attending “well person” screenings. Little wonder the NHS is hemmorhaging money while letting down their patients.

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    July 16, 2015 at 1:56 pm
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    In my long-running tug-of-war with my statin-prescribing cardiologist, I have now cut down my Atorvastatin from 40 to 10 mg (although I tell him I take 20mg to keep him happy). After a short spike to 9.3 it is now down precisely where we started, at 6.2-6.5, which nicely proves that the body produces the cholesterol it needs. He still thinks this is way too high, and has given me Ezetrol 10mg, which shall make the Atorvastatin more effective. Any opinions on this combination?

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      July 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm
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      Hi Henrik
      Nothing that’s polite! Watch the video link at the end of the article (I just added it this am) to get half an hour of genius on this whole topic. The body is designed to make cholesterol, so leave it alone is my view!

      Find another doctor?!
      Best wishes – Zoe

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    July 12, 2015 at 12:06 pm
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    I had a heart attack back in 2009 and, of course I was put on a statin, along with many other drugs. After years of horrible side effects my doctor took me off the statin six months ago stating that the side effects outweighed the benefits. One of the horrible side effects of statins, that I’ve never seen mentioned before, is gout. I wouldn’t wish the awful pain that gout brings on my worst enemy. I was getting regular attacks every few weeks. But within a very short time of quitting the statin the gout disappeared completely. The painful, swollen red toe was gone. I suspect it’s because my kidneys are now being allowed to function properly without the interference from statins. I just thought I’d mention it because I’ve not seen it mentioned on the web by anyone else. And perhaps there are people out there who are on a statin who are suffering too, and haven’t made the connection. PS: I follow you on twitter. Keep up the good work.

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      July 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm
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      Hi Roy – thanks for this and your kind comments. I have a friend in his 50s who suffers terrible gout – I must ask if he’s on statins!
      Best wishes – Zoe

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        July 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm
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        My mother lived to be 95 and is one of the only people I know who was never prescribed a statin (she did have a whole bunch of other meds though).
        Towards the end she was getting attacks of gout. I was pointed to this
        http://www.britishdalmatianclub.org.uk/downloads/Purine%20Table%202003.htm
        apparently dalmations have a genetic defect in metabolising purines.
        However her attacks seemed to be caused by fruit, especially rhubarb – I’ve seen some research connecting gout with fructose intake – if it’s not the statins to blame then excess fructose may be worth avoiding as a trial, the purine intake is not the only factor in producing high uric acid levels.
        If I remember correctly switching her from lasix to bumetanide helped eliminate the attacks, polypharmacy has many downsides.

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          July 12, 2015 at 2:26 pm
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          Many thanks for this Chris – got 2 suggestions for my friend! :-)

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            July 14, 2015 at 11:20 am
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            Yes the classic explanation for gout is excess dietary purines which must be reduced. But if you’re not eating many of them anyway you have to look further down the metabolic pathway. It may be yet another manifestation of “metabolic syndrome” ie. insulin resistance that increases blood uric acid levels. I’m not sure if the oxalic acid in the rhubarb was a factor, or the sugar she heaped on top of it was to blame, but the frusemide certainly was, fortunately the GP had read the small print!
            When I saw her poor foot all blown up with crystals erupting through the skin I realised I’d had attacks of gout in the past (once in my twenties) but only affecting one joint of one thumb, it’s excruciatingly painful and not “a trivial skin infection” as I was diagnosed with. I was either vegetarian or eating a low fat diet when I got mine – dietary purines were not a factor any more than they were for my mother. Since going low carb/paleo this is yet another condition that has never recurred and I can eat high purine foods with impunity.

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      July 16, 2015 at 7:24 pm
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      Shame our prefrontal cortex is so tone deaf to our bodies and subconscious minds. We would be so much better off as a species if we were aware, in a conscious sense, what was really going on with us instead of suffering and wondering why or just accepting it as it is, not even paying attention to what our deepest thoughts are trying to warn us of.

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    July 10, 2015 at 4:32 pm
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    On June 28, 2015 my blood work came back as follows:

    Cholesterol 235
    Triglycerides = 265
    HDL CHOLEST = 38
    LDL CHOLESTEROL = 145

    My doctor wants me to take statins and I keep refusing. I just can’t bring myself to take the statin medication. However the above results indicates that I am a good candidate for a stroke or heart attack. Of course I don’t want to have a stroke or heart attack and I still refuse to take the statin. Am I really that bad??

    Thank you for your time.

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      July 10, 2015 at 4:48 pm
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      Hi Ann
      So your cholesterol is below the true norm and your doc wants to medicate you!? This statin scandal will one day go down in history as the greatest medical crime against human beings. In my opinion you are sensible and well read, not bad! But as the post says – I’m the wrong person to ask about statins – one will never pass my lips. I’ve read way too much about the value of cholesterol and the horror of statins for that to happen. Hopefully you can find a more informed doc!

      Best wishes – Zoe

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        July 14, 2015 at 4:06 am
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        Hi Zoe,
        Thank you so much for the prompt reply. Thank you for caring about people and thank you for the time and effort you put into this wonderful website and keeping us informed and up to date with mega references. :)

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    July 10, 2015 at 12:44 am
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    Hi,

    I’m 56, female, and just got my cholesterol levels.

    356 total, HDL 69, LDL 258, Triglicerides 142.

    For the past year, I’ve been eating very little sugar and grains, grass-fed meat, butter, veggies, nuts and berries, raw milk etc.

    Instead of going down, my numbers have gone up. Especially the LDL and Triglycerides.

    I’ve been under quite a bit of stress, and have trouble with inflammation on my achilles tendons, which also means I’ve been walking less.

    I’m also very allergic this year.

    My blood pressure is between 110/70 – 135/80.

    Height is 5’6″, weight 145lbs.

    I’m scared!

    There is no history of heart disease in my family, and apart from migraines since early childhood (inherited from my mother), I have no big health issues.

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
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      July 10, 2015 at 1:44 am
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      >>For the past year, I’ve been eating very little sugar and grains, grass-fed meat, butter, veggies, nuts and berries, raw milk etc.<<

      Meant to say that I'm eating what is listed after sugar and grains, which I'm avoiding. No smoking, no alcohol,
      drinking water, herb teas and two homemade lattes a day.

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      July 10, 2015 at 7:32 am
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      Hi Susanne
      This is a classic example of why the world would be a better place if no one knew what their cholesterol level was.

      Your weight and BP are normal. Your cholesterol is at the high end of the normal curve (as one of the links from this post explains). My thoughts? 1) how much have you been sunbathing? not enough? your body makes cholesterol for so many reasons – one of which is because cholesterol is turned into vital vit D with sunshine 2) you’ve identified why your body needs to make extra cholesterol at the moment – stress/inflammation in Achilles.

      “I’m scared” is just adding to stress and will only make things worse – that’s one of the many reasons why the global obsession with cholesterol is so harmful.

      If you can trust your body to make what it needs to make hopefully the fear will subside, the sun will play its part, your tendons will hopefully heal in time… The most helpful thing you can do is to try to manage the life stress you mentioned (always easier said than done) but stress can actually do harm – cholesterol helps that harm

      Best wishes – Zoe

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        July 10, 2015 at 11:26 pm
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        Thanks, Zoe!

        I usually avoid the sun, because I’ve been told to be careful with my skin (many moles, all benign, so far).
        What would be the safest way to get enough sun for vit D, without the risk?
        From what I’ve read, you should “not” avoid the midday sun, and not use a sunscreen (use coconut oil?), and avoid getting sunburn, but not getting tanned?

        Thanks very much for your advice!

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          July 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm
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          Hi Susanne
          I actively try to get time in the sun! I don’t see the sun as risky – it’s been there for 5 billion years, we’ve lived happily with it for c. 3.5 million – I figure (like the food provided by the planet) it’s not ‘out to get me’!

          I seek or avoid the midday sun depending on where I am and the time of year. If the sun shines in Wales in February, I find a sheltered spot and expose arms and legs as the temperature allows. If it’s 18’c in spring I’ll try to sunbathe at midday. If it’s 30-35’c, as we had in Wales recently this July, I’ll get some rays before 11am – just because it’s too hot afterwards. On summer hols (usually the Med in August) I’m also usually inside or in the shade between 11am and 3pm – it’s just too hot. The guide to avoid sunburn but get some colour sounds perfect to me. You skin tells you when you’ve had enough. If in doubt, come in earlier rather than later. You can always get more another time.

          I never wear sun cream. Unless you know what all of these are (http://perfectformuladiet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/sunscreen-ingredients-1-smaller.jpg) and know that they are all safe, you may like to do the same!

          Best wishes – Zoe

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            July 18, 2015 at 12:47 pm
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            Blowing holes in the ozone layer was not too helpful! I’m told that skin cancer is far more common in Australia and elsewhere in the southern hemisphere for that very reason – but I’ve also heard that they often occur on non-sun-exposed skin areas, make of that what you will.
            All the while I ate a low fat diet I would burn rather than tan, yet another thing that has been reversed by low carb/paleo. Whether or not statins were implicated I’m less certain. There’s some evidence that constant exposure is far less harmful than massive acute exposure as on a Mediterranean holiday.

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    June 28, 2015 at 9:16 am
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    Suicide and violent behavior are other less reported side effects from these drugs. Imagine. They get us on cholesterol lowering drugs, then more and people at younger and younger ages report violent behaviors or suicide/self abuse, more drug companies can “diagnose” them as “depressed” or having an “anger” issue and put them on on more antidepressant/antianxiety drugs!! What the f**k?!?

    We already have too many people and children being over and misdiagnosed as having mental “disorders” they don’t even have, that are not even mental disorders (check out “above average creativity syndrome” and “oppositional defiant disorder’…) so if someone reasonably questions or rebels against authority or a hostile ruler they are “disorderly”? Holy crap!

    Is this what they are thinking? I’m betting so someday…seems like just existing is enough to have any disorder. Oh yeah, but the pharmaceutical companies? Yeah, the people making the drugs are ALL just perfectly fine. No disorders whatsoever, even though they may have some touch of megalomania, err but that’s just a scheme developed by “those people”.

    LOL seriously. The people working in and for drug companies are the ones that a screw loose for screwing us over as long as they have, and as long as they will continue to aim for.

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    June 1, 2015 at 10:06 pm
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    Hi I am 55 and female. On bp med but would like to get off these. Have you any recommendations eg supplements I could take. Have ordered your diet book. Have high cholesterol of 7.4 but am resisting statins. Thanks

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    May 15, 2015 at 8:55 am
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    Hi Zoe,

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I will read the information this afternoon. Ive also printed out your thesis on If which is something I have been doing. My original email address is incorrect so I have changed it. Please let know you get it okay.

    Thanks a million.
    Helen

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      May 15, 2015 at 9:02 am
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      Got it :-)

      Reply
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    May 15, 2015 at 8:26 am
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    Came across your page after receiving my blood results this week. Potassium 3.1, low I know but I have had Hypokalaemia for nearly 15 years and despite years of test they cannot find the problem, I take Sando K to compensate. I am a carrier of Haemachromatosis and now have been told my Cholesterol level is at 7. I have been dieting for 6 months with miminimal weight loss despite having no more than 1500 cals a day. I am trying to cover all bases as well as manage stress levels (work and son joining the military this year) keep potassium up, lose weight and cope with the menopause. I am now a non smoker (2 years) hardly have alcohol, female and early 50’s. Please tell me where I am going wrong as I dont want to be on statins.

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      May 15, 2015 at 8:51 am
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      Hi Helen
      I’m sorry to hear you’ve got so many things worrying you. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t comment on your medical conditions. I can share that a cholesterol level of 7 is entirely normal – this may help (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/06/diabetes-cholesterol-bp-normal-is-no-longer-normal/). Especially if taken recently, as cholesterol is highest at the end of the winter – it will drop naturally with sun exposure, as it makes vital vit D.

      The weight thing I can also help with – I’ll email you separately to find out where to send a book called “Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight”. It explains why calorie counting doesn’t work and what does instead.

      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
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      June 28, 2015 at 9:23 am
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      Actully according to Julia ROss we need 2,100 calories a day. The more calories you take in, the more you’ll burn. At 1500 you’re behind.

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    May 10, 2015 at 1:01 pm
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    Having stopped taking Statins for all the known reasons, with ALS symptoms increasing, I have been told to take Ezetimibe (Ezetrol). Instead of blocking cholesterol and many other vital things from the liver it absorbs cholesterol in the intestine. I now read this:

    http://www.drbriffa.com/2011/06/10/cholesterol-reducing-drug-ezetimibe-appears-to-do-more-harm-than-good/

    Yet again I face the decision shall I die of stroke or heart attack or from the effects of medication.

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      May 10, 2015 at 5:16 pm
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      Hi Michael
      I don’t think your decision is as stark as that – and given that stress plays a significant part in heart disease, feeling stressed by this will do more harm than good.

      This may be further helpful reading (http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2014/12/01/what-is-t/)
      Unless you’ve already had a heart attack, you’re not in for any ‘benefit’ from cholesterol-lowering drugs. If you have had a heart attack, you’re in the lottery for a surprisingly small and little known chance of benefit and that won’t be because of cholesterol reduction. The intelligent analysis is that any ‘benefit’ of statins would be from known anti-inflammatory effects. So manage inflammation (avoid smoking, vegetable oils, sugar etc) and don’t take the drugs or get the side effects. A pretty easy and non-stressful decision in my view.

      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
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    April 25, 2015 at 5:05 am
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    I was able to significantly lower my cholesterol through wax matrix niacin. Just contact me if you to want to see the article I wrote about it.

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    April 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm
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    Hi Zoe
    I’ve come across your site while stressing out due to my cholesterol test results. A couple of years ago in September 2013, I was talked into having my blood tested by a GP, which included a cholesterol test, among other things. My LDL was slightly high at 3.6 (I’m in Australia). Total cholesterol was 5.4, which was “ok”. However,last week, I again had my cholesterol tested, because my husband and I are updating our life insurance and the insurance company wanted my cholesterol levels tested because of the slightly high LDL reading of my previous test (how I wish I had not let that dr talk me into having it the first time!). This time my LDL has gone up to 4.7, total cholesterol 6.5, so now I’ve been called back in to visit a dr and probably be pressured into taking statins. I’ve read a bit on your blog and I understand the dodgy way LDL is “calculated”, and that it is not the demon it’s made out to be, but the problem is, the insurance company will go by the official recommended levels and will most likely hike up my premiums because I’m now officially “very likely to die of heart disease” (I’m 40 years old, by the way). I’m worried they might also pressure me into taking statins to “control” the problem, otherwise they won’t insure me? Or hike up the premiums even more…or refuse to pay if a claim needed to be made? :( the thing that I really don’t understand though, is why my LDL has increased by so much, because in the time between the two tests, I started an “exercise” routine by a bio mechanist named Katy Bowman that has already helped me to become so much fitter, healthier and stronger and got me outside way more than I used to (my Vit D reading from the 2013 test was 58, which was too low – I was told it should be 74, this test it came back at 82). A very important part of what Katy teaches is that walking is not optional for proper functioning of the human body, so I have been doing heaps of that, outside on my farm in the fresh air. I also do the restorative alignment exercises that are designed to restore muscle length to shortened muscles due to years of sitting in chairs and wearing heeled shoes. ( I’m not trying to plug her ideas here, just trying to show that it is not “exercise” in the traditional sense of the word, as I read your section that says that exercise is not necessarily good – Katy would definitely agree with you – I won’t link to her site because again, I’m not trying to promote her, but I bring this up because I’m puzzled as to why my LDL would be raised when I’m doing stuff like this :( I’m also normal weight – have always been slim, non smoker, eat a balanced diet. I hope I’ve covered everything here because I’d really love your help with this situation Zoe. What do you think could have raised my LDL so much, and what could I do to lower it if I can talk the insurance company into letting me test again? I have to note here that I did not fast before either of the tests – could that have been a factor in the high reading? Again, I do understand your view that a high LDL reading is not necessarily bad, but my problem is that the insurance co thinks so :( Could stress have caused the high reading (my hubbie and I are under considerable financial stress at present)? Sorry for writing a novel! I’m just really worried and hope you can help me!!

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      April 21, 2015 at 6:38 pm
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      Hi Mandy
      Don’t worry about mentioning the exercise stuff at all. I often get misunderstood on this subject, which baffles me because I’m very consistent with my views – natural activity is great – it will likely help with everything from mood to muscles to heart disease. Move for any reason other than to lose weight! I’m not a huge fan of iron man stuff and running miles on roads – it keeps hip and knee surgeons happy. What you’re doing sounds great.

      Anyway – the real issue – I would be demanding evidence from my GP/insurance company that a 40 year old female with no previous heart disease can gain any benefit whatsoever from statins and demand that they tell you the possible harm. Check a patient leaflet (https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/2498) for common side effects. The above blog links to this post (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2013/10/how-statin-drugs-really-lower-cholesterol-and-kill-you-one-cell-at-a-time/) but really make sure you read it to know what these drugs actually do.

      Can stress cause cholesterol to rise? Absolutely. It’s one of the most well known associations. Your cholesterol is far from high, by the way, as this will prove (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/06/diabetes-cholesterol-bp-normal-is-no-longer-normal/). The UK works in the same units as Australia. Running late for the appointment can affect the test; exposure to sun in recent days and weeks affects it; when you last ate affects it (you asked about not fasting – this does impact the reading); sitting down/standing up – there are so many things that affect it. No surprise therefore that it is known to be inaccurate by 19% (http://www.bmj.com/content/298/6689/1659) Although I’ve yet to meet a doc who prescribes statins who knows this. The ones who don’t prescribe statins do, funny that!

      What can you do? Get as much sun as you can before the next test (cholesterol turns into vit D – which is one of the many reasons we make cholesterol). Minimise carb intake – especially in the days before and fast on the morning. Don’t be stressed (that’s not something you can manage easily), but try meditation? It will be out by up to 19% anyway – you have to hope it’s in your favour this time.

      If not? I can’t advise anyone about what to do. I can only say what I would do. 1) I would not have a cholesterol test but you’ve already done that 2) if prescribed statins I wouldn’t take them. I’ve heard of other people use a term called “devious compliance” when under pressure from the medical profession (which should be a crime in itself). They cash the prescription but don’t take them.

      Whatever you decide to do, the stress that you have been put under is making your health far worse than having an entirely normal cholesterol reading. This is unforgivable in my view.

      Good luck with the stress that is important and the cholesterol that isn’t
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    April 15, 2015 at 2:59 pm
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    The reading list you give at the end of this article is terrificl but you left out “How Statin Drugs Really Lower Cholesterol And Kill You One Cell At A Time” by Hannah and James Yoseph, a book that you yourself reviewed on this blog and called remarkable

    . Zoe does a remarkable job in summarizing the content of this book. I suggest that anyone who wants to know how statin drugs work, what makes them deadly, how they effect each and every cell, how they came to market, and how this giant scam came to be check out this post. The Yoseph’s prove that statin drugs, by virtue of the damage they do on a cellular level are poison, pure and simple. Zoe does a masterful job of condensing this material and summing it all up. Check it out on this blog.

    Thank you Zoe for sharing your wisdom

    Reply
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    April 11, 2015 at 8:29 am
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    Hi Zoe,

    I’m a big fan and have achieved a much better lifestyle following your book. I’m 5’8 47 years and have lost 10lb in total 7 Lb on phase 1. But I have now plateaued and can’t lower from 10’3. I do a reasonable amount of exercise, daily walking, cardio and weights work and definitely see a difference in my body shape but can’t seem to shift this typical female body fat around the stomach and hips. Any further tips to get me a further half stone body fat loss that I want?

    Reply
    • avatar
      May 15, 2015 at 9:13 am
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      Hi Julie
      Hubby dropped you an email to set you up in the club for a couple of weeks to be able to view a couple of articles that would really help: 10 things to work through if you’ve not lost for some time and an article about abdominal fat. The more obvious point is that you’re almost certainly at natural weight! 5’8″ and 143lb is a BMI of 21.7. Losing even half a stone puts you in the 20 something BMI. It may be what you want, but it may not be sustainable. The posts would give you things to think about nonetheless.
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
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    April 2, 2015 at 6:07 am
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    I’m a newcomer to your site Zoe, and would like to compliment you on your work. I would say that all of what I’ve read here is relevant to myself and my wife. Whilst I’ve always been a sceptic, I have been nonetehless, amazed by some of your findings.

    apart from the thank you for a great site, I do have a question. I’ve just read your article “Weight gain is about fat stored”. An excellent explanation of what goes on in our bodies. My question relates to the triglycerides that get stored as fat in our cells, and the fact that they can’t get out again until they are broken back down into glycerol and fatty acids. So how does one approach that objective? Certainly understand the role of carbs = glucose = glycerol in a preventative vein, but how does one reverse what has already happened.

    No doubt I’m being as thick as my 68 years, but anything I can do to assist with my wife’s various problems, weight, diabetes II et al is where I’m aiming. Actually an article on triglycerides would be great reading. Just what do the numbers mean on a pathology report? Because after looking at the so called formula used to obtain some of these numbers, circular references, I’m at a bit of a loss to understand their significance.

    Enough of my rantings Zoe, let me start and I never stop. Again, thanks for a great read, look forward to perhaps hearing from you.

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    • avatar
      April 2, 2015 at 10:55 am
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      Hi Bill
      Many thanks for your kind words. You’re not being thick at all – 99.9% of diet advisors haven’t worked the reverse pathway out. They think that if you just eat fewer calories, the body will lose body fat. If only!

      The reverse pathway is all about carbohydrate. In the absence of carbohydrate, the body will call upon a hormone called glucagon to break down body fat to release the glycerol backbone. If the body has glucose available in the blood stream and/or stored as glycogen, the body has no need to burn fat. Certain states of exercise (VO2 max kind of stuff) aside, I cannot conceive of the circumstances in which the body would burn body fat if glucose is available. So we then advise humans to have 55% of their diet in the form of carbohydrate – this is what happens:
      http://www.theobesityepidemic.org/2014/02/a-calorie-is-not-a-calorie-and-heres-the-reason-why/

      The terminology in this area is really unhelpful because we call body fat triglyceride and we also call one of the blood measurements triglyceride and we also call the blood triglyceride measure VLDL! Just don’t measure any of this stuff and then we’ll all be fine :-)

      Best wishes – Zoe

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    March 26, 2015 at 1:24 am
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    Hi Zoe,

    It was interesting that you mentioned the cholesterol/vitamin D/winter connection; I was never aware of this before- (and I thought I knew everything there was to know about cholesterol!) It does seem logical, though.

    I have also wondered if it’s natural and normal for cholesterol to go up when a woman goes through menopause; based on what I’ve read, it would appear that this is so. Do you know anything about this?

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      March 26, 2015 at 7:20 am
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      Hi Lisa – yes is the short answer! Google “cholesterol and menopause pubmed” and 228,000 results come up – some interesting articles on the first page. Cholesterol also rises with age (and menopause is strongly related to a particular age – c. 50s) – probably because we have more repair needs. So we then stop the repair kit! Don’t get me started… :-)
      Best wishes – Zoe

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        March 29, 2015 at 12:01 am
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        Thanks for the tip; I just had a look at some of the Pub med stuff. It does seem to be the case that cholesterol rises with menopause- (and it rises suddenly with medical menopause)- but nobody seems to know why. I wonder if it’s because cholesterol is necessary for the making of sex hormones, and menopause is obviously a big hormonal change; in any case, it appears to be a natural and normal change that has a purpose, so obviously shouldn’t be messed with! I also read a few mainstream articles, which of course attributed the rise in heart disease in women during menopause to raised LDL, LOL! Of course, I think blood sugar level also rises at this time when women eat a high carbohydrate “conventional” diet, so as far as I’m concerned, that might be more of a cause for concern.

        Apropos raised blood sugar levels as a possible side effect of statins; apparently, I’ve read that women are even more likely to get diabetes from using statins than men are- (I believe it was close to a 50% chance, if I’m remembering it correctly). And as we know, diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease! What kind of “disconnect” is that? I’m constantly amazed at the blindly narrow minded look at only raised LDL, where nothing else seems to matter.

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          September 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm
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          Another plausible theory is blood levels of Iron. The protective aspect of pre menopausal women is that they menstruate and as a consequence this blood loss means their iron levels do not get excessive. Men do not have this protection and it could well be why women become more prone to heart disease after menopause. One possible solution is to be a regular blood donor.

          Reply
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    March 25, 2015 at 7:08 pm
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    I appreciate your ongoing assessments here.
    It was an article on cholesterol by Barry Groves that came through an American newsletter in around 2006 that helped me immensely. My cholesterol has always been somewhat “high” but in an email exchange with Barry he pointed out a couple of things:

    Did you run to the test or walk?
    Were you standing before the test or seated and relaxed?
    Were you stressed that day?

    Even these small things can impact the outcome of the cholesterol test he told me.

    Of course paradoxically, after reading the article I upped my eggs, fat and butter intake to what they had been years before …..and the cholesterol number subsequently declined. It was the threat of statins at the ripe old age of 19 by my then doctor that had me adjust my diet to lower fat years before.

    Live and Learn.

    tw

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      March 26, 2015 at 7:07 am
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      Barry was a legend – I was very sad to speak at his funeral :-( – and they were great questions and there are more – when did you last eat before the test? What did you eat? What time of year was it? What was the weather like?! If it weren’t so harmful it would be funny.
      19 eh?! They get worse!
      Best wishes – Zoe

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        March 26, 2015 at 2:33 pm
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        Yes 19. That was back in the late 80s. After seeing Barry’s article I asked my current doctor why the cholesterol protocols seem to change every time I get tested.

        His answer was informative.

        He said that in the beginning the drug companies had control of the testing which was subsequently determined to be unethical. Surprise surprise. I suspect that was around the time of being threatened with statins by my previous doctor.

        I was sad to hear of Barrys passing. He had an enormously positive impact on my life that has continued to this day.

        tw

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    March 25, 2015 at 10:51 am
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    One thing I thought you might have included (if just for fun) is a mention of Sir Rory’s apparent U-turn (or is it a PCSK9 turn) on side effects as reported in e.g. The Express of 15 Feb under the headline Statins expert calls for safety checks over the drug.

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      March 25, 2015 at 11:16 am
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      Ha ha – I think PCSK9 turn is bang on – this is the perfect red carpet intro for the son of statins – even more lucrative than before…

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      March 25, 2015 at 8:52 am
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      Hi Nate
      Without looking at the original study, I have two first thoughts:
      1) I do believe Natasha Campbell McBride’s view that the gut is the second brain of the body. Check out the work of Dr Fasano if you’re interested (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21248165) and (http://chriskresser.com/pioneering-researcher-alessio-fasano-m-d-on-gluten-autoimmunity-leaky-gut) being good starters. Lustig’s obesity work also features the gut and hormone feedback loops very nicely.

      2) I don’t believe that obesity is about hunger and therefore I don’t buy that suppressing ‘hunger pangs’ (by any method) will solve obesity. I think that obesity is about appalling dietary advice, an obscene and unprecedented intake of carbohydrate, addiction – to carbohydrate…

      I do think that what we’re eating is having a detrimental effect on our gut flora – so change what we’re eating before engineering bacteria for goodness sake!?

      Best wishes – Zoe

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        March 25, 2015 at 6:21 pm
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        Thanks for the reply. I especially liked number 1. I’m not surprised that so many are studying this whole gut/brain/microbiology/hormone system, but it is great to have sources to read about it.

        I must admit that I’m enjoying this whole transformation of nutritional science. I know that many people have been damaged by the old faulty science (me included), even so it is exciting to watch the battles, the wins, the losses and hopefully the truth succeed.

        Yeah as far as number 2 goes, it reminded me of Pollan’s The Botany of Desire where he looked at the world from the point of view of sugar producing plants. The plants used chemical warfare and co-evolution to gain control of millions of acres. One of their main weapons was sugar addiction. Thus, they secretly gained control of many scientists, politicians, industrialists, etc. I know I still occasionally fall victim. So, be careful out there!

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        March 27, 2015 at 12:16 am
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        Y’know what suppresses hunger pangs? A nice fatty steak covered in garlic butter.

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          March 27, 2015 at 7:58 am
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          Ha ha – very good. And my mum used to say – if you’re hungry, have bread, which made me more hungry – for bread!

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        July 18, 2015 at 7:34 am
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        Suppressing hunger pangs will lead to more obesity. The body will store it because when your blood sugar drops it stores in in case we don’t eat like we should.

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      March 25, 2015 at 1:10 pm
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      I stand willing to be corrected on my all-too-brief reading of the article, but I think it basically supports the idea that fat consumption suppresses appetite (i.e. keeps appetite under control). Quick thoughts:

      1) The NAPE hormone seems to have two effects – one is a direct action on the hypothalamus, and the other is conversion to various fatty acids. Both actions suppress hunger, either through hormonal control or through satiety. (I’m not fully savvy here, so it’s a “seems to be” point. Take with salt.)

      2) The article notes that the NAPEs increase in concentration in the colon only, but not the rest of the GI tract. I *suspect* that the small intestine is doing its thing and sending excess into the bloodstream, where it goes to the hypothalamus. (Again, suspicion here.)

      3) The thing I’m more confident of: the bacteria are producing a response similar to that of a high-fat diet. The rats feel fuller as a result, don’t feel compelled to overeat, and (I assume) the usual mechanisms of fat storage don’t get driven as hard.

      4) Finally, Table 1 is a *classic* portrait of how LCHF diets are purported to work: lower insulin, lower leptins, lower glucose, better glucose response, reduced appetite (more accurately in this case: reduced free-will caloric intake), and reduced triglycerides.

      The article is worth a read-through, though. They go into great detail on methods (basically dumping their lab notebooks into the report).

      And sorry for such a long response. I know walls-of-text are unpleasant, but I wanted to put enough for somebody else to correct me.

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      • avatar
        March 25, 2015 at 2:46 pm
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        Hi David – long response much appreciated! I can’t read all of them – fab to have a fellow dissector :-)
        Many thanks – Zoe

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        • avatar
          March 25, 2015 at 4:50 pm
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          Always happy to learn something new. :-)

          I should have specified that Table 1 referred to fasting levels, so leptin and insulin were one-half to one-third the fasting levels of the control and other regimes, thereby giving them more headroom to operate (i.e. more sensitivity). That’s why lower leptin was better.

          On re-skimming, I realized that I also take issue with their conclusion that the effect lasted for four weeks after stopping treatment. Their own data (Figure 2) show that all mice gained weight at the same pace after treatment stopped. The treated mice simply had a lower starting point. Their food intake was marginally lower, but it seems well accounted-for by the fact that they weighed less and didn’t need as much to eat. But everything points to convergence over time, starting about a week or so after treatment ends.

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  • avatar
    March 24, 2015 at 9:33 pm
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    For the past couple of years my cholesterol has been between about 9 – 10. My trigs have been well below one. My cholesterol ratios are allegedly very good as well. I eat LCHF. I also compete (and win) at national level at what is a very intense sport.

    Am I remotely concerned at my cholesterol levels? No. Oddly enough, neither is my GP. I don’t think doctors’ are becoming super enlightened regarding big pharma / cholesterol / food pyramid etc (yet) but our family GP is! Hopefully more will follow.

    I applaud your blog Zoe!

    Reply

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