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BLOG: March 2007

Cholesterol lowering drugs

They tried it all attempting to curb heart disease with a cholesterol pill. First by lowering so called "bad cholesterol" with statin drugs (Lipitor, Zokor, and others), which are not working as expected. And how could they? The mechanism of their effect is blocking the liver enzyme needed for cholesterol production. Aside that it is not cholesterol itself causing heart problems, stopping this enzyme also blocks production of other substances depending on it, such as coenzyme Q10.

Should it come as a surprise, then, that statin drugs can cause nasty side effects to the liver, brain and muscle function? Despite no independent study confirming benefits of statins in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease (CBS News), they are widely prescribed not only to those with elevated cholesterol, but also as a "preventive".

Then they tried raising so called "good cholesterol" instead. Results? Same old... While the drugs did raise "good" cholesterol, everything else went wrong.

Reportedly, Pfizer Inc. abandons its $800 million Torcetrapib project, due to drug's inefficiency in reducing heart related deaths and hospitalizations, and its serious side-effects. Eli Lilly and Co. experimental diabetes drug raising "good" cholesterol, caused a host of serious side effects, including heart and kidney damage. And direct infusion of "good" cholesterol (CSL Ltd., Australia), didn't help either (New York Times).

Call it stubbornness, or arrogance, or something worse - but pharmaceutical companies keep ignoring well known fact that hearth disease has little to do with the nominal cholesterol levels, and nearly all with the degree of free radical damage, homocysteine levels and internal inflammation, spreading to hearth and blood vessels.

What is called "bad" cholesterol is simply cholesterol carried from the liver to the body cells by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carriers. This cholesterol is not bad; it is vital for proper cell functioning and overall health. And what is called "good" cholesterol is simply excess cholesterol carried by high-density lipoprotein (HDL) carriers back to the liver, to be disposed of.

Higher than normal bad-to-good cholesterol ratio indicates that your body draws in more cholesterol than it disposes of. In other words, cholesterol build up inside your body. Long ago, official medicine jumped on the conclusion that it is the main contributing factor to the arterial buildup and resulting cardiovascular disease.

Since then, this assumption

has been proven wrong by both, scientific studies
and real-life data.

Some folks with elevated "bad" cholesterol never develop cardiovascular disease, and vice versa. Indeed, cholesterol production may be higher simply because your body needs it. One possible reason is that it is part of body's attempt to protect from and repair damage caused by free radicals, toxins and/or pathogens.

Likewise, good cholesterol "balance sheet" itself doesn't protect you from the disease. If your blood vessel inner lining is damaged and/or inflamed, the buildup narrowing the vessels and leading to cardiovascular disease will take place

even if your nominal cholesterol levels are within acceptable.

It has happened - and is happening - to many.

Still, pharmaceutical companies and their extended hand - medical establishment - keep pushing the cholesterol balance concept. Why would they do that? The simple answer is that addressing the actual causes doesn't require drugs. No drugs - no money.

One of the main reasons of  arterial buildup is that cholesterol, normally a non-sticky compound, becomes sticky when oxidized by free radicals. The solution: free radicals reduction, and good intake of antioxidants, especially vitamins C, E and A.

Another real risk factors is the level of lipoprotein(a) cholesterol, nearly identical to LDL cholesterol, except that its carrier has an adhesive protein added. Its function is to protect blood vessels from further oxidative damage when the level of antioxidants are low. It does this by sticking to damaged arterial walls, narrowing and hardening arteries as a result. The solution: again, minimizing free radical level and adequate intake of antioxidants, primarily vitamin C.

Elevated homocysteine levels contribute to cardiovascular disease by damaging arteries. Solution: adequate intake of vitamins B6, B9 and B12, needed to keep homocysteine level in check.

Most other risk factors are also nutrition-related: low magnesium/potassium, low Omega-3 fatty acids, low vitamin K, and so on. And for more urgent cases, there are effective and safer natural alternatives to statins.

Should pharmaceutical companies take the blame for ignoring the actual problem? Yes, but not alone. Much of what they do is responding to the market demand. Most Americans still believe in impossible: staying  ignorant health-wise, keep their bad habits and, nevertheless, be healthy at the same time. They are asking for that "miracle" pill. The drug industry does its best to meet their demand.

Who is really to take the blame is the government, for allowing deceiving practices and unsafe products on the prescription drug market, but even more it is the medical establishment, who violates the very basic principles of medical profession by joining the ride on this ignorance and profit-driven bandwagon.