Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cholesterol Levels

So, American's cholesterol levels finally fit the neat little government parameters. Americans now have normal cholesterol compared with 1950 when the average 222. Cholesterol is down, but other health problems are up. I'll get to that in a minute.

First, there is no causation associated with cholesterol levels and any disease. None. I know, this is shocking with the obsession-compulsion you hear from doctors, the media and now prominent bloggers. But there's no scientific evidence that high cholesterol is bad.

Second, your body makes the biggest proportion of cholesterol. Diet provides a small percent of the body's need. In fact, when we don't injest enough cholesterol, our body bumps up production. Why? Because cholesterol is very important. Brain function, hormone production and a myriad of physiological processes rely on cholesterol. (A good article here.)

What about statins and cholesterol lowering drugs? Don't they cut heart disease? Um, no. They might help if you don't have heart disease, but if you do, they do nothing. So what's the point of taking them? Most people put on statins take them because they're diagnosed with heart disease.

And then, there are the side effects. Statins and cholesterol lowering medications are not the benign medical marvel they're made out to be. Certainly they work, but if you avoid one potential problem only to face another life-threatening or life-altering one, they might not seem so miraculous. So here's a few things that statins can do:

It is actually this last symptom that people find the most egregious. Without cholesterol to make hormones, a person's sex drive plummets. This is no small thing. Quality of life is nearly as important as quantity of life. A guy who has high cholesterol and trades his sex drive for the right numbers might actually prefer to have a heart attack. The statins aren't the only thing that changes a person's libido. Combined with blood pressure medication (which it often is), the medication taker can feel depressed, anxious and lose vitality.

The solution, of course, is more medication and surgery. Anti-depressants, drugs for erectile dysfunction, and hysterectomies for the female problems sure to surface. It is my belief that statins will be the next big medical hoax following HRT and arthritis drugs.

Be wary of magic pills. Good health comes from good diet, exercise, and happiness. Oh, and good genes don't hurt, either.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just had my eye exam and the good doctor told me there is some cholesterol build up on my eyes. A while back I was told that I am slightly elevated in my cholesterol level. Because I have some heart issues, I simply won't go on anything...and, I agree with you anyway that a good diet, slowing down a bit, exercise and finding some peace is the best prescription for good health.

Bob said...

That is most interesting. I was aware that our bodies produce most of our cholesterol. What are your thoughts on the ratio of HDL and LDL?

sandy said...

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